Greetings for the Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony!

Hello, Everyone!

Thank you very much for attending our Chicago, Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony. It's a great pleasure to see so many friendly faces. I trust that you are all enjoying the best of health and good spirits on this beautiful autumn day.

How wonderful Kami's workings are! My heart is filled with gratitude to welcome all of you to today's ceremony. Especially when I realize that just 11 brief months ago we had a memorable Dedication Ceremony transforming our Propagation Hall into the Konko Church of Chicago. Where does the time go!?

At that time we welcomed many guests from Japan and from all over the North America. Today, as we are celebrating our first anniversary of the Konko Church of Chicago with this Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony we welcome another wonderful guest from beyond our shores. Kami has brought Rev. Tateo Suenaga as our speaker today all the way from Brazil. I've known him for many years & know you enjoyed listening to the sermon he'd brought us, because he's an inspiring speaker.

I say this is Kami's divine plan, because beginning this month JAL does not have a direct flight from San Paul, Brazil to Narita, Japan. So he has a chance to be with us by making his connecting flight to Japan in Chicago. Rev. Suenaga was the senior trainee for my wife, Kanako and I, under the guidance of our late, great master, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, founder of our home church in Japan. Rev. Suenaga and his family went to missionary work in Brazil in April of 1977, three years after I became a trainee.

He was moved to tears of gratitude on the flight to Brazil and those tears never stopped until they landed on Sao Paulo. He succeeded in building the Konko Church of Birigui from almost nothing. At first no one came to seek Mediation while he sat at the Mediation Place. But he continued directing his heart toward Kami & his heart remained filled with awesome gratitude. Then finally, one by one people came to seek his Mediation. The church soon flourished.

Airaku Church celebrated its 10th anniversary of establishment in October that year. Rev. Suenaga and his family went back to Japan for the celebration because their visas were due to expire in 6 months. But when they tried to return after that celebration the Brazilian authorities stopped them. It looked for a while like it would be impossible for them to reenter Brazil. However there was one great arrangement of Kami. His third son, Mitsuru was born in Brazil during his stay there for 6 months. That brought his family back to Brazil in 1979. Since then, he has done his best to be of great service to Kami and people in Brazil. The more Kami has trusted him, the more people have drawn to his church and the Konko Faith has spread throughout Brazil. He worked tirelessly to establish the Konko Churches of: Ron-Donia, Mogi das Cruzes, Butanta, Curitiba, and the Konko Propagation Hall of Rio De Janeiro and Juquitiba. He also helped to rebuild the Konko Church of Sao Paulo.

In 2008 the Japanese-Brazilian celebrated its centennial Anniversary of their immigration. Rev. Suenaga was chosen that year as a recipient of the Kasadomaru Prize. I heard Kasadomaru was the name of the ship that first brought Japanese immigrants to Brazil. This prize was the highest honor given to those who had made the greatest contribution to the Japanese-Brazilian communities.

In 1986 I visited Brazil with Rev. Mitsuaki Otsubo, the second son of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo for 40 days. Rev. Mitsuaki was the speaker of the open lecture meetings that were held in 6 different cities there. I helped him as a MC in Japanese. At this opportunity I really wanted to know how Rev. Suenaga had been doing as a Mediator in Brazil. I found that he was doing his best to emulate the nature of the universe, that is, to apply the heavenly, earthly and orderly nature of the universe in his daily life and thus to deepen his peaceful and joyful heart. When he succeeded in doing so as a Mediator, he believed that, through his Mediation, Kami would provide people blessings and teachings so that they might prosper.

Rev. Soichiro Otusbo taught that Kami's heart is the nature of the universe. By that he meant that there is a heavenly, earthly, orderly foundation of the universe. He explained it this way, "The heavenly nature of the universe is characterized by inexhaustible generosity. It is a natural, limitless giving.

Second, the earthly nature of the universe accepts everything calmly, like keeping surface of the earth silent & placid. No matter how filthy we humans might feel something is, the earth never says of it, 'I hate foul smelling things like this,' or 'Dirty things like this are unacceptable!' And the response isn't just complete silence either. The earth receives things that are repulsive to us as nourishment.

Orderliness is the third nature of the universe. There is nothing more faithful and trustworthy than the way Heaven & Earth work together. For example, we'd be in real trouble if the sun had an attitude, 'I'm too tired... I'm going to take the day off.' The sun works constantly day & night! It showers our entire planet with the energy that makes life possible as we know it. The sun doesn't take a minute... or even one second of 'vacation.'"

Konko Daijin said, "Everything that happens is Kami's doing."

Since this is true; we need to learn to cooperate with the nature of the universe we live in. We must learn to accept things that happen as expressions of the heavenly, earthly, orderly nature of the universe. By practicing faith this way we respect everything that happens as Kami's doing. This is the way to gain divine virtue... and when we succeed, Kami's glory appears in our lives beyond all measure!

My senior minister Rev. Suenaga's success in propagating the Konko Faith in Brazil proves this fact. Like him, I would like to become of great service to Kami and people right here in Chicago by emulating the nature of the universe. And after you heard his wonderful words you knew why... and join me! Thank you.

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