Good Morning, everyone! Happy new day & happy beginning of a brand new week. But even more importantly, Thank You most especially for attending this first monthly service for July 2011. I hope you are all in good health and excellent spirits.
Today is July 3rd. July 3rd has a very special meaning for me. I have an unforgettable memory with this date which happened 4 years ago. I went shopping a couple weeks before the 3rd at the Dominick's Store. When I got my receipt, it said, "Congratulations!"
I'd gotten a voucher worth $7 to the "Taste of Chicago" scheduled for Independence Week and it was enough money for my wife, Daichi and me to go and enjoy the Taste of Chicago on July 3rd. We could see the fireworks display, accompanied by the music of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra for our first time. What made the experience even more special, I also took a test to become a US Citizen on July 3rd... and passed.
The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra played in the Petrillo Music Shell in the Grant Park. We were listened to it at the lawn there until it was dark. At first I thought the fireworks display would be near the Buckingham Fountain which was a little bit far away from where we were sitting. But it turned out that the fireworks were actually shot off just in front of us. As each display went off so close to me I was overwhelmed by the beauty & the brilliance. It was the best fireworks display I'd ever seen. My heart was too full for words when I thought about Kami's great arrangement to celebrate my American citizenship with these fireworks. I resolved then & there to be the best American citizen I could possibly be.
Skipping ahead to this year, I was invited to join the annual Interfaith Peace Prayer Ceremony on Saturday, June 18th. It was held at the Theosophical Society in America in Wheaton, IL. Participating faiths included the America Baptists, Baha'i Faith, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and our own Konko Faith. I was asked to deliver the Peace Prayer part of the service from the Konko tradition. I also gave my official greetings during the service as well. I'd like to share them with you.
"It is my great honor to have been invited to this Annual Interfaith Peace Prayers and an even greater honor to offer prayers and blessings of peace.
It has been a long-cherished dream of my life to contribute to the creation of true world peace. During my university days I struggled to find the way to unite two ways to bring peace and justice to the world. One way is to fight together with people against any suppression and discrimination and to try to reform the world for the people. I joined radical student movements to try and bring peace and justice to our society and the world through active opposition. The second way was to have faith in the healing path of total, nonviolent acceptance. I had to learn that acceptance of even the suppressed or isolated situation of people was also necessary for the nourishment of the heart. My heart was torn as I continued to struggle between those two ways of living.
Since then I have sought a more perfect answer to all my questionings. Finally Kami led me to find the proper way to human fulfillment in my life. For me, I found them in one of our Founder's teachings to unite those two very different ways.
To my great surprise and relief, our Founder, Konko Daijin, spoke of this splendid unifying way over 100 years ago. He taught, "If people lose their belief in the teaching, ‘Pray on this very day with a single heart. Divine blessings are within your grateful and caring heart in harmony and joy or your own peaceful and joyful heart,' the world will be in turmoil. The glory of Kami will be gone."
In other words, when people believe through daily practice every moment, the truth of, ‘On this very day pray with a single heart,' Divine blessings blossom within your own peaceful and joyful heart. This is the essence of our Divine Reminder, Tenchi Kakitsuke, and by faithfully pursuing this path, the glory of Kami will appear and true world peace will be attained.
Kami's workings or appearance of Kami's glory through our prayerful faith and action definitely need to be the foundation to accomplishing peace and justice throughout the world. When the entire human family is deeply committed to the peaceful and joyful heart of the world and that through Kami's glory human happiness and true world peace will become a reality.
Therefore I have been practicing this faith to develop peace and joy in my heart through everything that happens in my life to become a good example for the entire human family. No matter what happens and no matter how difficult it might be I will do my best to continue to deepen the peace and joy in my heart until it becomes an unbreakable… just like that of Kami. This way I hope I can be of real service to both Kami and humanity in Chicago… and true world peace.
Let me introduce to you some of the peace activities that the Konkokyo, our international church organization is doing currently. Konkokyo has joined in the growing efforts around the world to support global issues, promote peace, and save our precious earth.
Konkokyo Peace Activity Center (KPAC)
KPAC is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, which works together with counterparts in Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand to promote projects in these countries. These projects include: nutrition supplement and sanitation programs for the entire population as well as welfare and educational support systems for children. One KPAC project sponsors "Give A Meal." This project combines the donations of various Konkokyo institutions and churches in Japan. KPAC provides nutrition-rich meals for the undernourished children in the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia. One yen (or about one penny US) provides these children with one meal with this funding. KPAC hopes to expand this project overseas beyond the Konkokyo organization.
Konkokyo holds annual Peace Gatherings at various locations throughout Japan. At the gatherings, participants offer up sincere prayers and discuss ways to improve their surroundings. They then work on implementing these suggestions within their communities.
This project was initiated by Konkokyo to bring Konko believers and non-believers together, with Japanese and non-Japanese volunteers of many different nationalities. They help find, identify and reclaim the remains of World War II victims scattered throughout Okinawa. Prayers for the deceased and the eternal peace of their souls are offered onsite. This program started in 1977, and the number of participants has grown ever since.
Let us pray together that we may contribute to the prosperity in all countries, safety for all people and peace throughout the world."
These are my greetings for the Interfaith Peace Prayer Ceremony. For all the attending religious leaders it was their first time to witness a Konkokyo service. Later some of them told me that they had been impressed a lot with our service.
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