Sermon - July 1, 2012

Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & Thank you especially for attending today's service. This is our 1st monthly service for July, 2012. I hope you are all enjoying good health and in excellent spirits.

As you probably know I am repairing the gutter of my garage. This has been a long-term project. Though I'm not much of a "do-it-yourself'er" by nature, I'm able to undertake this project with the invaluable expertise of our next-door neighbor Mr. Josvb Babayan. I call him, "Joe-san." He & his family are kind, wonderful neighbors. He owns the apartment next to us and is an expert related to house matters.

I started repairing the gutter last September & with his generous advice the project will soon be done. As Joe-san has told me, if I had not made this repair the gutter would have eventually fallen, probably sooner than later. As I say, I know almost nothing about how to fix it, nor what kind of tools to use. He very kindly offered to guide me through the process & rent the proper tools.

The boards connected to the gutter had rotten very badly. My first task was to separate the gutter from the rotted boards. Step 2 was to remove the boards from the garage's roof trusses. I got these two parts of the job almost done by last November.

While Kanako and I were the associate ministers of KC Portland in the '90's, our family lived in the house a few blocks from the church. My mother called me one time when I'd happened to go shopping to buy some pipes & things to repair the kitchen drain for. She was very surprised when Kanako told her where I'd gone & said, "That's Masanori. He will fix the drain!"

All I'd done in Japan was to study in school & seminary. Japanese people usually ask specialists to make household repairs. That was why she was astonished to know I myself would repair the drain.

But to return to the current project, I was quite busy last fall & there was one board which refused to give up easily & be removed. So it took a long time to remove all the rotten boards required to make a proper repair. There were only three tiny strings on each side of the garage supporting each gutter. I'd wanted to get the new boards in place in November. But the weather turned so cold it was impossible to do so. I had to wait through the winter & finish the repair the following spring.

I wondered if a heavy snow might cause the gutters to fall down completely. If that happened I just knew it would cost me a lot! But thanks to Kami's great arrangement, it only snowed in Chicago very three times last winter. And it didn't snow much each of those 3 times, which was unusual. It was the first time we had such little snow in winter since moving to Chicago. The three strings on each side of the garage miraculously supported the gutter all winter.

I resumed to repair the gutter when spring returned but the next phase of the repair required more labor. Two people are needed to attach the new boards and flashings. During summer vacation Daichi, our youngest, came to the rescue. Together we fixed all three sides of the gutter & now the completion of the job is in sight.

As I said at the beginning, our kind neighbor Joe-san is the expert for house maintenance in the neighborhood & he knows virtually everything about repairs. I learned a lot from him during this repairing work. I was awe-struck with his knowledge and skill, every time I ran into a problem in proceeding with this work. It reminded me over & over of one of the Japanese proverb which says, "every man to his trade."

The Divine Parent of the Universe is the Kami that straightens the heart-soul, not just for curing sickness or avoiding misfortune. Of course the Divine Parent can cure any sickness & avoid misfortune as well. But, when difficulties happen, we cannot be separated from the embracing concern of the Divine Parent! No matter what happens, no matter how difficult it might be Kami is there & Kami cares! So instead of selfishly pursuing blessings such as curing sickness or avoiding misfortune - we should focus on renewing ourselves and deepening peace and joy in the deepest recesses of our heart. This will please Kami most: to see we humans polishing the jewel of our hearts. When we cooperate, Kami will fulfill workings beyond all measure. Just like going to the specialist shortens the route to recovery, having faith in Kami that specializes in straightening the wavering heart or soul eliminates doubt. When we choose to pray for the cure of our heart/soul, we are able to reform our destiny beyond belief.

I have an awesome opportunity as the minister responsible for KC Chicago. Even though I have often felt my efforts have not been enough, I have done my best to polish my heart through everything that happens, whatever it may be & no matter how difficult it might be at the time. Through continuing such a practice of faith I am dedicated to becoming a specialist who straightens out the heart/soul. As we perfect our singleness of heart, problems will be solvable when we agree to do it with the guidance of Kami. I hope to show that Way by emulating the Nature of the Universe; whatever problem people bring here to KC Chicago. May they be awe-struck at the solutions Kami can provide through peace and joy in the heart of this place of worship!

Thank you.

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