Good Morning. Thank you for joining us on the 1st Day of a brand new Week for our 1st monthly service of August, 2013. I hope you are all enjoying good health & excellent spirits.
As you know I went to Japan at the end of June to attend the funeral of my mother, Mrs. Itsuko Takeuchi. I returned home to Chicago on Independence Day, July 4, filled with gratitude to my mother for her example of faithfulness to Kami's workings which, as I can now look back on it, was a perfect mirror of divine virtue. I was amazed more & more with each & every one of those workings I recalled.
Returning to Chicago, I wanted to stop at our International headquarters to extend my appreciation to our Principal Mediator for my mother's exemplary life. I arrived in Konko Town on July 3rd, just before the evening prayer service at 8:00 pm. I joined it. To my surprise I saw two seminary students from KC Airaku there. They were also surprised to see me at this time of the year.
Then I went to the supermarket to buy something for my dinner. I would have a plan to pray at the gravesites of our founder & his successors, & at the worship hall throughout that night. During the Samurai (warrior) era in Japan there used to be such a proverb as "We cannot fight when getting hungry."
After changing my clothes into my suite, I visited those gravesites. During my prayers there I extended my appreciation of my mother's life as well.
Konko-sama, our Principal Mediator, walks from his residence to the main worship hall everyday of the year without exception at 3:45 am to serve Kami & mediates for everyone who comes to the (Gokekkai). Three ministers had gone to Konko-sama's house before he'd left to follow his procession. I looked up as the third minister passed me & our eyes met. It was Rev. Kiyoji Konko, Konko-sama's second son. He seemed surprised to find me in the Headquarters complex at this time of year. We nodded with each other.
After the morning prayer service I took my turn approaching the Mediation Place to seek Konko-sama's Mediation. I said, "Good Morning Konko-sama! My mother, Mrs. Itsuko Takeuchi has just died June 23rd at age 90. Thanks to the Konko Faith she had done her best to accept everything that happened in her life, no matter what, with peace & joy in her heart & had lived with an increasingly grateful heart with each day of life Kami gave her. I have been the happiest person to be one of her children."
He replied, "Yes!"
Then I asked someone to see Rev. Kiyoji Konko, who was in a back room of the worship hall, if I might speak with him. He had studied English at the Meadville/Lombard Theological School in Chicago for a year & half before my family moved here to Chicago to establish a church. He's always said that Chicago was like a second home town for him. Whenever he sees me on a visit to Japan, he usually welcomes me by saying, "You have brought with you the fragrance of Chicago."
While studying in Chicago he had met the Ogawa family. The Ogawa family, especially the late Mrs. Masae Ogawa, welcomed in a way to make him feel right at home. He attended some services at their home as well. It was through this contact that he had met Mr. Tim & Mrs. May Ogawa. This coming October the Ogawa's will visit Japan with me & three other members & renew their friendship. This will be his first visit to Japan even though Tim-san is a third generation of Japanese American.
Our group from Chicago will attend the 130th Anniversary Celebration on October 13 in Honor of our founder's return to Kami as a Mitama-spirit. We will reach Konko town on the 12th. I really want Rev. Kiyoji Konko to meet all of our group, especially Mr. & Mrs. Tim Ogawa.
When I saw him on the morning of July 4th this trip, I asked him if he could see us on Oct. 12. He willingly accepted my offer & said, "I will bring the photos of my time in Chicago to share with them."
I also saw Rev. Nobuyuki Hayaba at the main worship hall. His wife, Rev. Satoko Hayaba is the first daughter of Rev. Katsuhiko Otsubo, head-minister of KC Airaku. He kindly offered to drive me to the Konko train station. On the way back to Chicago my heart was filled with awesome feelings.
During my stay in Japan, thanks to my mother's divine virtue I couldn't help but feel surrounded by Kami's perfect workings.
We are now in one-hundred-day of the faith training period I told you in the last sermon in July that KC Airaku is observing in preparation for the 130th Memorial Service of our founder's demise. You'll remember I've chosen to celebrate this Faith Training too, so whenever we have the prayer services everyday we recite the following 'Solemn Pledge': "Approaching this 130th anniversary of the founder we pray to revive the vivid way he lived so each day we would feel Kami near us and hear the Divine voice. We seek to blaze a trail into the active world of Konko Daijin, and experience the essence of his faith -- as if by touching we'd feel its warmth and by poking we'd draw spurting blood."
During this one-hundred-day faith training, I will do my best to clearly accept everything that happens in my daily life, develop unbreakable peace & joy in my heart & manifest this solemn pledge everyday. Won't you please join me?
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