Hello, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying good health and excellent spirits. Thank you very much for attending today's second monthly service in June.
The other day I received a request from our Headquarters in Japan. It was a fact-finding inquiry asking for details about the Konko Church of Chicago and the family members of the head-minister and associate ministers. Konko Headquarters carries out this every 5 years to detail the actual situation of each church around the world. As I filled it out emotions of both gratitude and apology welled up in my heart.
The Divine Reminder says, "Kami's blessings begin within our grateful and caring heart filled with harmony and joy," or to put it another way, our individual peaceful, joyful heart. This means that opening this way of Faith begins within our own peaceful, joyful heart.
Therefore I have been focusing very intensely on developing peace and joy in my heart since I opened this worship hall in Chicago 13 years ago. But I still have not reached the point where I feel my unbreakable heart of peace and joy that agrees satisfactorily with Kami's Divine heart. Even so we have received tremendous divine blessings beyond measure. As my parent minister, the late Rev. Soichiro Otusbo often said, "Just by trying wholly to deepen peace and joy in our heart, even if we frequently fail to do so, we can receive divine blessings more than we expect as if we can achieve our peaceful and joyful heart."
And we have received a constant shower of divine blessings for 13 years. The epoch-making blessing, of course, was the changing of our status last year when Konkokyo celebrated the 150th Anniversary of its establishment. Our Propagation Hall became the Konko Church of Chicago through Kami's Divine will.
What an honor it was! How grateful we were! Whenever I think of it, feelings of awe, gratitude and joy well up in my heart. This is gratitude I felt as I filled out the request form from Headquarters.
But when I filled out the information about how many people became members, came to our church everyday to seek mediation, or attended our monthly services and grand ceremonies, I could not help but realize that the tremendous achievement we have longed for had not yet been accomplished. And I feel the reason why Kami's real glory has not been appeared yet is totally due to my lack of an adequately peaceful and joyful heart.
My heart still easily gives in to anger. When frustration comes my way, I too easily end up to blaming others or complaining even though I know and believe our founder's teaching that everything that happens is Kami's doing. I try to focus wholly on developing peace and joy in my heart through every happening. I also totally believe another teaching of our Founder which says, "Kami's glory will appear through deepening our peaceful and joyful heart on this very day."
Still I seem so far from reaching that unbreakable stage of peace and joy in my heart. So what should I do to achieve this goal of faith?
While I have been praying for Kami's answer lately my oldest son Mitsunori suddenly had a swollen cheek on his left side. Then this past week our younger son Daichi severely injured around his left eye. He was playing football with his friends during the lunch break and one of them accidentally "kneed" Daichi in the eye while trying to catch the ball.
He was taken to Swedish Covenant Hospital by ambulance and when the doctor saw him, he couldn't find any severe damage with his eye. I felt that the doctor might question why we needed to have bothered with the ambulance. But while they were testing his eye sight, he threw up and it even included some blood. This got the doctor's attention and took CT scan. The results showed that Daichi did indeed require special care and so another ambulance transferred him to Children's Memorial Hospital.
During this whole time I did my best to direct my heart toward Kami as deeply as possible. Then it occurred to me, "This accident is Kami's way of allowing me to develop peace and joy in my heart!"
Then I thought, "What if this could be my last chance?"
Through both events of my sons I realized Kami wanted me to deepening my peaceful and joyful heart at the risk of my life.
Ultimately the doctors found that Daichi had a fractured bone under his left eye. He didn't need to have surgery. So the bone there will not be cured, but if some tiny muscle is holding his eye and his eyesight are not disturbed everything should be OK. That tiny muscle should heal in 6 weeks. When the plastic surgeon told me this I realized I had to deepen my heart at the risk of my life, thinking that if I easily gave in to anger or complained to any happening, Daichi's eye could easily end up not supporting his eye in its socket.
My parent minister, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, received the following revelation from Kami:
"With the thought that you are at the risk of your life,
Devote yourself and make efforts.
You will gain divine virtue, help people and open this Way."
I will devote all my time to developing peace and joy in my heart through everything that happens, always thinking I am as if I were at the risk of my life.
There's one final, remarkable blessing I would like to share with you to see what you think of it? It may, at first, seem totally unrelated, but as I'm sure you know, the Blackhawks, the professional ice hockey team in Chicago, has recently won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years. It came to Chicago for the first time in 49 years. Now here's the unbelievable blessing part of it. Because of Daichi's injury... I not only got to see it... I touched it! Don't you think how wonderful it was!
Daichi stayed over night at the Children's Memorial Hospital and released the next day, June 16th. I stayed with him at the hospital and needed to go home to get my car to drive him home. I left his room on the third floor around 11:00 am and took the elevator. When the door of it opened on the first floor, the door of the next elevator next to mine also opened. I was STUNNINGLY surprised... the big, silver, Stanley Cup came out of it.
Many people stood there cheering. Many, many flashes were going off, aimed at the Cup and me as well, of course. At first I couldn't figure out what was happening. Turns out that the coach of the Blackhawks brought the Stanly Cup to encourage the young patients at that hospital by letting them see it. Through Kami's great arrangement I not only saw it just in front of me but I reached out and touched it.
Like the coach of the Blackhawks and the Stanly Cup; I too would like to become a champion of developing peaceful and joyful hearts all over Chicago that totally reflect that unbreakable, peace and joy of Kami's wonderful, Divine Heart.
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