Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & Thank you especially for attending today's service. This is the first monthly service for June, 2011. I hope you are all enjoying good health and excellent spirits.
Two weeks ago we held our Tenchi Kane No Kami Grand Ceremony which was followed with prayers for Kami's wish to be accomplished in Japan's recovery from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. Thanks to prayers like yours this years' ceremony turned out to be very awesome. The weather cooperated despite forecasts of persistent rain.
We were blessed with clear skies. It was comfortably warm but not hot. More than 30 people joined us for this ceremony. The atmosphere was filled with gratitude and solemnity. I certainly seemed everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves the ceremony and luncheon that followed.
Our good friend Senior Minister Takao Kishii came all the way from Toronto to officiate the service and delivered his sermon both in English and Japanese. His example of the youth who overcame his difficulties through faith in his sermon was a true inspiration.
The young man was disabled at the age 17. Yet in spite of grave challenges this brave young man struggled to overcome his paralysis with a strong will and bright mind. He even sought to cheer up his parents by thanking them for taking such good care of him. This attitude surprised people around him and gave encouragement to his family. The reason he gave for his wonderful attitude was that he had always attended the boys & girls meetings at church as a child, listening to and believing our founder's teachings.
Grown now, he's recently written, "If I had not suffered from the illness, I wonder if I could live these fulfilled days. After I experienced such a severe illness, although I still have the paralysis, I understood how wonderful it is to have life, and what a regrettable thing to live without knowing Kami's divine blessings. The illness gave me an opportunity to practice what I had learned at church. Sometimes I was almost defeated by the illness by negative thoughts. Whenever I was about to be dispirited, I was encouraged by the guidance of Kami, the prayer of our minister, my friends' encouragement, and my parents' love."
As the conclusion of his sermon, Rev. Kishii read the following Konko Daijn's teachings from the Sacred Scripture of Konkokyo.
"If you wonder why misfortunes come to you even through you are devoted to the faith, your faith has come to a standstill. If you continue believing with a single heart, realizing that your faith is incomplete, you will then be ale to receive the divine favor."
"Misfortune could be a divine favor in disguise. View it as such and act toward it positively."
"As you look back on the past, you should understand that all things have occurred in your life due to the divine favor. The divine favors you receive are more unseen than seen. If you come to realize this, you will be a true believer."
On May 15, the Sunday before our grand ceremony, I was invited to join the Chicago Interfaith Celebration. It was held at the J.W. Marriott Hotel downtown in a gorgeous ballroom. I didn't know exactly what kind of celebration it was, even after I'd been there for a while. So I asked a couple of people there how often these kinds of interfaith services were held. The lady next to me answered she thought one had been held 23 years ago. When she said that, it finally dawned on me that this interfaith gathering was to celebrate the inauguration of Mr. Rahm Emanuel, the new mayor of Chicago. Mr. Emanuel succeeded Richard Daley who had held the office for over two decades.
More than 300 ministers and leaders from more than 50 religions gathered together to pray for Kami's wisdom and workings to be manifested through our new mayor's policy and actions.
We were served a luxurious meal. And as I enjoyed it realizing that Kami was very closely watching over & blessing us. I told you a few sermons ago about my plan to help Japan's recovery from the March 11th earthquake and tsunamis by skipping my lunch since March 16 so I could donate an additional dollar each day. It was a small effort but once it reached Kami's heart, I believe Kami's already double its divine virtue for myself & all around me.
Whenever I sit in front of Kami's altar, I pray that we may contribute to the prosperity in all countries, safety for all people and peace throughout the world. And I also pray for peace and the prosperity in the USA, in the Illinois State and the Chicago city & I write those prayers in my Prayer Book at the beginning of each day.
Now, what is Kami's reply? Instead of going without lunch, I had a chance to see our newly elected mayor, Mr. Rahm Emanuel this day. I had the opportunity to see and exchange a few words with our Illinois governor, Mr. Pat Quinn, several times downtown at the Japan Information Center for the Emperor's birthday party. So now when I pray for peace and the prosperity of the Chicago city and the Illinois State I picture the faces of both our governor and our mayor more vividly than ever. Through Kami it's almost like being bless with the chance to speak with them personally, every day.
So, for the sake of human race and the world, please join me & let us pray without thought of ourselves, to have hearts like that of the universe. Sustained by Kami's power may we succeed in bringing to change this world, to help create a more Kami-fulfilled world and contribute to the prosperity in all countries, bringing safety to all people and peace throughout this tiny fragment of the universe, which is our home planet!
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