Good Morning, everyone! Thank you very much for joining today's 50th Day Unification Service for the late Mrs. Masae Ogawa.
Ogawa Masae Magokoro Isaone Ouna no Mitama no Kami-sama, arigatougozaimasu.
Beloved dearly Mitama spirit of Masae Ogawa, thank you very much for the wonderful life you lived while here on earth.
You have been a most meritorious inspiration person for all of us who knew you here at KC Chicago. You remain a most meritorious person for our church even after you entered the next world.
This day fulfills one of my most long-cherished dreams. I have long dreamed that someday all the descendants of Mr. Shinkichi and Mrs. Ume Nishimura would gather at the KC Chicago Worship Hall together with all related Mitama spirits whose memory we honor to ask Kami to bless their eternal rest. Today's 50th Day Unification Service for Masae-san has brought most of the Nishimura families here together. I can hardly imagine how deeply Mr. & Mrs. Shinkichi Nishimura, Mr. Terry & Mrs. Masae Ogawa and all related Mitama spirits are pleased to see all of you here. Today's service can be not only for Masae-san's Mitama spirit unifying to her ancestral spirits after training herself for almost 50 days in the next world but also for unifying the Nishimura families to the Konko way of life, that is, to understand the purpose of our life to deepen our peaceful and joyful hearts through everything that happens in our life. When I think of this, my heart becomes too full for words.
You all know Masae-san's personal history so I'll just mention her wonderful contribution to the Konko faith. How deeply we appreciate the dedication of her life to the devotion to the practice of the Konko faith.
Masae-san was born in Seattle July, 19, 1920. Her father Shinkichi Nishimura, owned the Lane Hotel in Seattle during those pre-war years. I've even heard that the first gathering of the Konko Faith in the United States was held at his hotel.
Masae-san was very young when she started learning to play the koto, Japan's famous, traditional stringed musical instrument. She studied with the late Mrs. Komatsu Hirayama. Mrs. Hirayama's husband was Rev. Bunjiro Hirayama, founding minister of the Konko Church in Portland, OR. Masae-san often played the koto for special ceremonies at the Seattle church while she was growing up.
This & everything else in her life all changed for Masae-san, of course, with the bombing of Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, Sunday, Dec. 7th, 1941. She & her family were deprived of their civil rights, most all of their possessions of value & were virtual prisoners without trial or due process of law for the next 4+ years. After the war all the Nishimura families moved to Chicago.
There Masae Nishimura met Terry Ogawa and they were married on April 9, 1950. They remained in Chicago where their 1st son Timothy, was born to Terry-san and Masae-san in July 1952. Their 2nd son David-san, arrived in June of 1954.
Terry-san died in 1995 & Masae-san remained single, livng on her own for 15 years until her death at age 90 on June 5th, of this year. Masae-san and her family suffered severe hardships early in life & she battled through health problems in her later years. But she lived a full and rich life in spite of her many challenges &, perhaps because of them, touched the lives of many people.
Since 1960's, several Konko ministers have come from Japan to study at the Meadville Lombard Theological School, an affiliated of the University of Chicago. Masae-san, haruko-san, Hideko-san, Shizuko-san and their families took it upon themselves to extend a genuine tradition of Japanese hospitality, care for each of those minsters & make them feel at home in Chicago. That was one of the defining reasons KCNA gave top priority in selecting Chicago as the place to esatablish a keystone-church in middle America. That's what brought my family & I to Chicago in 1997when I was assigned to do missionary work in Chicago in hopes of founding that pivotal church in the heartland of America.
Masae-san received the greatest blessings of life here on earth through her faith. One proof of that is the wonderful generations she raised that have follow her. I have always admired her family. It's been a privilege and opportunity to meet each & every one of them. Our founder taught us, "The foundation of faith should be harmony in one's family," Masae-san and her family have become a shining example of this teaching by her life; lived throughout her lifetime & reflected in the wonderful descendents who followed her.
We appreciate & admire her sincerity to Kami. The Konko Church of Chicago would not exist as it is without her sustained devotion to Kami. Her contribution & her inspiration have been tremendous!
I met her family through Kami's great arrangement, which began with her grandson, Kevin. Kevin entered the Northside College Preparatory High School the year after my older son Mitsunori became a student at the same high school. Through this happening I met Masae-san's older son, Tim-san and his family at the school orientation meeting. Since then Masae-san and Tim-san's family have faithfully attended Grand Ceremonies and Memorial Services, our important events.
How wonderfully sincere she has been. I believe it was primarily because of her faithfulness that the Konko Church of Chicago was established in April 2009. That is why she should be known by the divine name, Ogawa Masae Magokoro Isaone Ouna no Mitama no Kami. Magokoro means sincerity. Isaone means that her great contribution to Kami is the root that nourishes this center of faith in our city. Ouna means an old lady.
I believe Masae-san was chosen by Kami to be the guiding spirit of this church. I have no doubt her influence on the birth of this church was NO coincidence. Consider: Masae-san was married April 9, 1950. Fifty-nine years later to the day, I was named head-minister of the Konko Church of Chicago by our Principal Mediator in Japan; April 9, 2009. Want more proof… think back a few minutes… remember I said her wedding day was April 9th, 1950. Masae-san & the Chicago Church's anniversaries are the same date! What a wonderful blessings Kami can arrange for those who believe with their whole heart!
My wife, Kanako and I miss Masae-san very much; surely not as deeply as her wonderful family, but our family miss her just as sincerely & profoundly. We miss her gentle smile. I miss the soft sound of her voice when she called me "Sensei." She introduced me to her doctors and nurses as "my minister," when I visited her at the hospital. How deeply grateful I was for the honor of that title and how responsible I feel to uphold the privilege.
June 6th, the morning after Masae-san passed away, I prayed for her during our regular Morning Prayer. Then I opened the Wagakokoro Sacred Book to receive a revelation about her from Kami. I received Kami's answer for Masae-san by turning directly to the following poem; which was a teaching written by my parent minister Rev. Soichiro Otsubo.
In English it says:
Those who overcome obstacles with peace at heart
Beckon prosperity and respect.
Never lose the Wagakokoro heart.
Wagakokoro means our own peaceful and joyful heart. I believe Masae-san's Mitama spirit now focuses on developing peace and joy in her heart in the next world. Therefore from now on I will keep this message in mind and devote myself to deepening peace and joy in my heart until becoming unbreakable like that of Kami.
Let us pray for her eternal peace and happiness. May she live in the spiritual presence of Kami's delight with Konko Daijin as her eternal Mediator in the next world.
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