Monthly Service : January 15, 2012

Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special, "Thanks," for attending today's service. This is our 2nd monthly service for January, 2012. I hope you are all enjoying good health and in excellent spirits.

As you know, 2012 is the year of the Dragon. Unlike the Western image of the Dragon as an evil creature, in Asia, it is seen as strong & wise. Images of Dragons are usually shown holding the Pearl-of-Wisdom in the claws of a front foot. And the most famous dictionary in Japan says that the Dragon shows its strength by climbing up to the Heavens on the clouds. Like the Dragon that I hope we here in Chicago can climb up our faith, develop our faith so deeply that we can spread the Konko religion across the North America Continent. Let me begin with a deceptively simple question.

How useful is your faith in your daily life? Do you put the Konko way of life into daily practice, first & foremost? Is your primary focus to always have peace and joy in your heart? These questions, as I said, are simple, but the answers we show to the world in our actions can make them very difficult. So often, in spite of the best intentions over time, our faithfulness in every day life, when we are very honest with ourselves, can be awfully hard to achieve. So what is the answer.

In practicing faith it is important to come to church, hear the teachings &, of course, it is the right place to start. But it is only a start. It is vitally important to put the teachings into practice of daily living in faith until they become an inseparable part of 'who we are.' It is necessary to train ourselves to have an unbreakable peace and joy in our hearts at all times & in any circumstances. When we succeed in doing so, divine virtue is naturally gained.

We've looked at wisdom of acquiring Kami's trust through our depth of faith for two years. We focused on emulating the heavenly, earthly and orderly nature of the universe for some time now.

The heavenly nature of the universe, you'll remember, is characterized by inexhaustible generosity. It is a natural, limitless giving. We can say it in more concrete and easier way as, "It is the heart that can say 'Thank you.'" The earthly nature of the universe is the ability to accept everything calmly. Again, a simpler way is to say, "It is the heart that can say 'I'm sorry,'" And MEAN it with every fiber of our body. Then finally, the orderly nature of the universe is to develop a heart that can reflect the value of everything in the universe with sincerity.

This year I'd like to propose that we build on the truth of these foundations & concentrate on emulating the nature of the universe in our daily lives. My wife, Kanako, came up with a wonderful suggestion that, thinking it over, just might be a very good 'Faith Practice' for the next 12 months. At the end of this year, if we practice it faithfully, we just might be to measure how deeply we've learned to say: 'Thank you'; 'I'm sorry' and treasure everything, whatever may happen to us in the 366 days of this leap year of 2012, no matter how difficult it's challenges may be.

In order to begin today, I've prepared individual copies of our founder's teachings for you to focus on. Each small piece of paper includes one of our founder's teachings.

Please take one at random, without looking at it. I've prayed to Kami all this last week for each of you to take the teaching that Kami wants you to practice this year.

Please keep the teaching you pick & find the best way to keep it in your mind all the time, throughout this year. The goal is to master it & become aware of trying to come closer & closer to Kami.

Kami is most pleased to see people practice faith & deepen their peaceful and joyful heart through every daily happening. Whether it's reward for correct behavior, or discipline to lead you to change attitudes & behaviors to more perfectly reflect the Divine Nature of Heaven & Earth. Everything that happens in our lives is Kami's doing & Kami wants us to deepen peace and joy in our hearts to reflect the Nature of the Universe.

When we are genuinely committed to peace & joy within ourselves... THEN we can be willing workers in repairing the peaceful and joyful heart of the world. Surely this is the way that Kami's glory will appear, and human happiness & true world peace will become a reality.

Come, let's begin, take a Teaching & let us start a year's adventure of practicing this faith to develop peace and joy in our heart through everything that happens in our life. May we become better examples of faith for the entire human family.

There's a saying, "It doesn't matter how many times you fail, or are knocked down, Life only counts how many times you get back on your feet & get on with it."

So, no matter how often we stumble, let us do our best to continue to stay on the path of, 'Thank you', 'I'm sorry' & polish our hearts to deepen the peace & joy in them until they become unbreakable... just like the Divine Heart of Kami. Thank you!

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