Good Morning, everyone! Happy new day & week! This is our second service for the month of August, 2011. Thank you very much for attending today's service & I hope you are all enjoying good health and excellent spirits.
When we moved to Chicago 15 years ago, my first thought in deciding how we would use our living space would be, "where to set up the Worship Place," since our new dwellings were to become a church as well as our home. Since the front entrance to the house led directly into the living room, I thought that room would be the best place in the house for our most important room.
But we discovered that "indirect lighting" was not popular in the US when this house had been built. There were no ceiling-light fixtures in the living room where I had intended to set up the Worship Place. At first I wondered how I could have a light for the altar. But I did find one tall, standing, floor lamp & one desk in our new home which had been left by the former residents.
The more I thought about it, the more I believed Kami had decided the tall lamp should be the shining illumination for the new altar. The desk was obviously Kami's gift for the Mediation place where I would sit & seek Mediation between Kami and people in Chicago.
All my family & I worked to clean up inside and outside the house during the month of July 1997. We were especially in painting the living room and dining room. We cut the grass in the back yard which had grown more than one foot tall. I set up the altar and Mediation place when we were finished and officially began mediating between Kami and the people of Chicago on August 1, 1997.
Then I received the letter from our Headquarters in Japan that our Principal Mediator appointed me the minister-in-charge of the Konko Propagation Hall of Chicago affective as of July 30, 1997.
The day before August 1st this year I looked back my 15 years of dedication to Kami here in Chicago. From the beginning of propagating Konko faith here I wished to prove by example that the key to success depended on nurturing the depth of peace and joy within one's own heart. So I have always focused on deepening the peace and joy in my heart through each and everything that has happened in my life.
But I was constantly reminded that the peace and joy of my heart was so weak and not enough. I believe that's why Kami has brought only a few so far seeking mediation. However, I realize that solitude has been, when I have felt, in the best position to look into myself and to perfect the integrity of my heart. For this I am profoundly grateful.
However I realized how fragile my heart had been for 15 years. I had just focused on developing peace and joy in my heart from the first day until now. But it was mere intention and I saw it was no good to continue this on this way. I felt very sorry to Kami for that. I finally understood that the correct way to develop my faith was to keep Kami as the focal point of my heart & mind all the time instead of myself. I decided to follow the advice I've been preaching in sermons for the past several months by emulating the Divine Nature of the universe. That is, of course, practicing the heavenly, earthly and orderly nature of the universe each & every moment of each & every day. That nature of the universe ultimately leads me to pray for even those who are against me. By respecting every happening, I believe I can acquire a way to polish my heart to live day to day with total & complete sincerity. Since that decision I have sensed a fresh new breeze of faith blowing forward my desire to minster to the Konko Church of Chicago.
Kami has tried to build the foundation of this church more firmly than I had ever realized before. The late Masae Ogawa left many valuable matters such as some letters to her from her father, Mr. Shinkichi Nishimura and many photos especially owned by Mr. Yoshito Nishimura, the oldest son of Mr. Shinkichi & Mrs. Ume Nishimura. Yoshito studied at the Waseda International Institute in Tokyo between 1936 and 1938. At that time he roomed at the Konko Church of Kanagawa. After he returned back to the USA, it is sad to say that he passed away on Oct. 27, 1939 due to the tuberculosis. These staffs revealed many important facts about Nishimura's.
Mr. Shinkichi & Mrs. Ume Nishimura were the sincere believers of Konko Faith in Seattle. Shinkichi-san owned the Lane Hotel where the Konko gatherings were often held. Ume-san became a church elder when the Konko Church of Seattle was established in 1928. Masae-san kept all the letters that Shinkichi-san sent to her from in 1943 & 1944 while he was in the hospital in Seattle. One letter dated Nov. 25, 1943 said, "Thanks to Kami's blessings I am allowed to live today. If Kami didn't exist, I would have passed away two years ago."
It also said, "Please have faith. All results in Masae's divine virtue. Masae & Hideko left the camp on April 5 this year to work at the house where you are working now. Since then I have been praying to Kami for both of you. Please be patient well."
In another letters Shinkichi-san emphasized, "Masae, don't forget Kami-sama. Please extend your appreciation to Kami, saying, ‘Kami-sama, thank you very much today for being allowed to work everyday thanks to you.'"
I was surprised & very pleased to find out Shinkichi-san had such deep faith in Kami. Shinkichi-san died on January 5, 1945, in Seattle. He was forced to live alone separated from his family who had been ordered away to live in an interment camp. But, though alone, he lived with deep gratitude, sustained by his strong faith in Kami.
I now clearly realize that it was the sincere faith of Mr. Shinkichi and Mrs. Ume Nishimura that brought our family to Chicago to establish the Konko Church in the Heartland of America. The Nishimura family's earnest faith is a valued & trust worthy foundation for this church.
Masae-san's older son, Tim-san and his wife, May-san attended the first monthly service in August. They donated many of Masae-san's belongings to the church. Tim-san created the Website of the different-makers-America to help people for their better lives and be of service to Kami & I am tremendously grateful for that.
So what do you think? Chicago has long been known to the world as "The Windy City." Don't you think a hopeful new spiritual wind of faith is now blowing here in the Konko Church of Chicago?
Like the beautiful sailboats on Lake Michigan, I am looking forward with anticipation to blessed power of Kami to carry us forward on this great, new spiritual wind.
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