Spring Memorial Service : March 27, 2011

Let Us Honor All the Departed Souls

Good afternoon, welcome and thank you very much for joining this annual Spring Memorial Service of the Konko Church of Chicago.

First of all, let us pay one minute's silent tribute to the victims of the recent catastrophic earthquake & tsunami in Japan.

The biggest earthquake in the Japanese history hit near the seashore of the Tohoku region on Friday, March 11. It caused devastating tsunamis that swept away houses, cars and everything in several towns & cities near the coastline. The size of the devastated area is beyond belief. The number of confirmed dead is more than ten thousand & the number of people unaccounted for now exceeds that number.

It also brought a threat of crisis to six Fukushima nuclear power plants. The magnitude 9 earthquake far exceeded the limits these reactors were designed to withstand.

As the news reports of this terrible disaster revealed this tragedy over nearly two weeks now, it pained us greatly to think of the unspeakable suffering that those who survived were undergoing. I prayed, have prayed and continue to pray for the victims every waking moment, and I'm sure all of you feel that way too.

Yet, I have sought Kami's wish through this catastrophe at the same time. Konko Daijin taught us, "Everyone around the world is a child of Tenchi Kane No Kami. Everything that happens is Kami's doing. It includes major upheavals."

All the disaster victims were children of Kami. Therefore I can hardly believe how much greater the depth of Kami's pain must be. Our earthly way of living will have to change sooner-or-later from human-centered living to building Kami-centered lives. A bright future for the human race will not open until we do. Human beings must come to live mutually reliant between Kami and people. Only then, by having a heart like that of the universe; emulating the heavenly, earthly and orderly nature of the universe will the human condition change. Each human being must come to live a life full of gratitude in harmony with the universe.

To some degree it's really difficult to know how, where and when this could happen.  Still there's no other way than we human beings receive the protection from Kami; regardless of whatever happens and no matter how difficult things might be.  The grandson of our Founder once said, "When people leave everything to Kami, Kami trusts them with everything."

That's so true. There is no other way of living but to trust completely in Kami so faithfully that Kami can trust us.

"When, in the face of catastrophe,
Our human knowledge is shown to be useless,
Using the teachings as a mirror,
The path will open up to us,
Putting, each day, sincerely and joyfully,
Everything in the hands of Kami."

For the sake of human race and the world, I do pray without thought of myself to have a heart like that of the universe.

One year will soon come after Mr. Masao Nishimura passed away on April 2, 2010. Forty years have passed since Ms. Charlotte Nakaoka passed away on Feb. 19, 1971. Fifteen years have passed since Mr. Terry Ogawa passed away on March 14 and Mr. Jiro Kusumoto passed away on May 7. Three years have passed since my father, Mr. Michinori Takeuchi passed away on March 26. With this Spring Memorial Service we are having their Memorial Anniversary Services to extend our appreciation to each Mitama spirit, as well.

Each day, morning and evening, I extend a prayer appreciation to the Mitama spirits that are the foundation of this church. I do this especially diligently during March and September, which are memorial months. I say special prayers after each evening's regular service, and read teachings of my spiritual mentor, the late Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. As I pray to the Mitama spirits I encourage them to continue to develop their peaceful, joyful hearts. I have found great inspiration in the Mitama spirits of those whom I called out during my special prayers.

Kami gave Mr. Masao Nishimura his divine name as Nishimura Masao Kikune Okina no Mitama no Kami last April. Kiku means "everlasting joy." Ne means "root." During my special prayers this year, every time I called upon his divine name, I could not help but feel that not only the Mitama spirit of Mr. Masao Nishimura but also all the Mitama spirits related to this church are doing their best to develop peace and joy in the next world and become the foundation of everlasting joy of the Konko Church of Chicago and the world, which I sincerely appreciate.

My father, Mr. Michinori Takeuchi passed away on March 26, 2008. As I've said before, he served as Mayor of Imari, Japan for 24 years.

One thing I most admired about my father was that he constantly searched for the real faith of our Founder, Konko Daijin all his life. He believed that somewhere there existed a minister whose faith and patience was a true reflection of Kami, like that of our Founder. He willingly went on pilgrimages throughout Japan in order to find this person. He finally met Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, founding minister of the Konko Church of Airaku. In him, he found his ‘genuine mediator'. I don't know any person that better who so clearly understood Rev. Ostubo's faith as pursuing the essence of what our Founder stood for than my father.

I happened to find a book here in this church in February last year that was published by the Konko Church of Katsuragi in Wakayama Prefecture. I had forgotten I had it. In it were two of my father's speeches that he'd given during the time he was the mayor of Imari. Reading them again I was amazed by the depth of his faith.

My father was very thoughtful whenever he spoke. These speeches were filled with logic and conviction. They were reasonable and very understandable even though his ideas were complex and he was not afraid to use difficult language to express them.

I knew I had to translate them from Japanese into English after I read them through several times. I believed they would be of great value to many English-speaking people around the world.

I hoped the Takeuchi family in Imari would celebrate the 3rd Annual Memorial Service for my father around March 25th of this year. By that time I wanted to translate at least one of his speeches into English in honor of his memory. I believe my father would be very pleased to know that English-speaking people would, at last, have access to his message in their language.

I asked Mr. Jamal Leki-Albano to translate one of my father's speeches into English. Jamal is a 29-year-old sincere gentleman, bilingual in English & Japanese, who is talented in linguistics. The title of my father's speech that we chose to translate was "The essence of the Konko Faith," in English. Thanks to Jamal's dedication the translation was completed in the middle of February this year.

I received a phone call from Rev. Tateo Suenaga, head-minister of the Konko Church of Birigui, Brazil a short while later. During our conversation Rev. Suenaga offered to translate my father's speech into Portuguese. Suenaga said he had a most intelligent believer named Carlos who would be able to translate our work from English to Portuguese. He was as good as Suenaga claimed.

Carlos completed his translation very quickly, in time for my father's 3rd year Memorial Service, where they were piled in three printed drafts of Japanese, English & Portuguese in front of the Mitama altar in Imari. I know my father will be both surprised and pleased to know what a large number of people can now understand his message.

I cannot properly express my great appreciation to all the Mitama spirits we have invited near to join us here today. But together, by being part of today's Memorial Service in this world and the next, we can support the Mitama spirits of those who have gone before to accumulate divine virtue and more perfectly become one with Kami.

So, let us reverently honor these precious Mitama spirits. They are our heritage. As they are now, we someday shall be. May we so live that we too become spirits, worthy of being one with Kami.

Let us begin by caring for all those who live with us between heaven and earth. Let us then add together with them the spirits, past, present and future, in a pledge that beginning now, we shall work to create a new era.

An era in which the Divine Will of the Tenchi Kane No Kami will be fulfilled! May we create an era in which peace and joy will shine forth from the hearts of all people in this world, together with the power and virtue of all the Mitama spirits who have gone from this world into the next to show us The Way!
Thank you.

I happened to open my computer this morning and found the message from Mr. Ben Vose who lives in Astoria, Oregon with his wife, Robin-san. He was home room fourth grade teacher of our oldest son, Mitsunori when he entered elementary school just after we moved to Portland from Japan. By the end of the school year Mr. Vose had discovered Mitsunori had come to Oregon without formal English training in Japan or the United States and he offered to visit our home weekly to tutor Mitsunori.

He ultimately became my private English teacher and editor as well. He knew I was a Konko minister and was very interested to learn about the Konko Faith. He is an earnest believer of the Presbyterian Church and we talked a lot about religion, the two different cultures we'd grown up in and much, much more. After studying the Konko Faith on his own, he told me he felt he had gained a clearer insight into the early years of the Christianity. In return he and I spent many hours discussing and studying the great differences between our two languages. Now he very kindly edits all my English writings. That's why you feel my English writings are smooth and polished although my every day English is still Japanified-English.

Here, with his permission, is the message and poem he'd sent by email  about this month's historic disaster in Japan.


Between the earthquakes in Japan, the tsunamis coming into Cayucos the next morning, the unfolding news of the troubles since & working with you to edit your invocation & prayer for the Memorial, I've been thinking about you a lot! Last night when I was 1/2 asleep, this haiku kept running through my head. Please accept it as a prayer for normalcy to sustain the spirits of those suffering & those departed.

May many people attend your Memorial & may this poem lift up the spirit of Heaven & Earth in guiding us all toward a stable future!

Love, Peace & Joy... From Ben Vose
Here's the haiku:

Moon smiles through cloud veil,
Modestly lighting the way,
Guiding my feet home."

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