Monthly Service : January 19, 2014

Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special, "Thanks," for attending today's service. This is our 2nd monthly service for January, 2014. I hope you are all in good health & excellent spirits.

As I told in my sermon for our New Year's Day Ceremony, this year 2014 is one of the most significant years for us. The Konko Faith celebrates our founder's 200th year birthday this year. Also our parent church in Japan - KC Airaku celebrates the 100th year birthday of our parent minister, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo under whom I had trained myself for nearly 20 years. We here in the Konko Church of Chicago will honor our church's 5th Anniversary Celebration Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Besides, 20 years have passed since our family moved to the USA to serve Kami and people here in the USA. Welcoming such a fantastic year, gratitude and passion toward Kami always well up in my mind.

The bright white snow covered all over the ground when I opened the front door of our church just before 4:00 am on Jan. 1. "A brilliant year is open" was my immediate realization to see it. Then I had a strong determination to make this year more memorable and I prayed for Kami's wishes for us and the world to be fulfilled. For that we should put the teachings of Konko Daijin into practice to deepen our faith.

After our New Year's Day Ceremony each attendee was asked to randomly pick a teaching of our founder; or one from the teachings of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. I prayed asking Kami to give each of us the teaching that Kami most wanted us to think about & put into practice for the Kami's fulfillment of this year. When I found the teaching each person picked, I was amazed with the fact each of us picked the most suitable one for each one of us.

First I'd like to tell you of the teaching Mr. Tim Ogawa picked. Tim's the president of our Believers' Association. In this capacity, Tim-san is the representative of us all. Therefore, I believe, his teaching is not only for him but also all of us. Kami wants all of us to put not only our individual teaching but also this special universal teaching for us all into practice in our daily life in 2014. Even more, I believe his choice is foundation of this congregation to our KCNA's new faith project titled, "Let us receive Kami's blessings & unconditional love; living a joyful life of appreciation."

Tim-San & his wife May-San couldn't attend our New Year's Day Ceremony due to their own party at their house. However they came to exchange the new year's greetings with each other on Tuesday, Jan. 14. They picked up the teachings of theirs and their family members then.

As you know, I described my New Year's resolution in my poem as follows: "That I may deepen my heart through peace and joy in twenty-fourteen! May I be grateful each day for everything that happens!" "Have a grateful heart for everything that happens to us" is a teaching of the fourth Konko-sama that is the translation in Japanese as follows: "世話になる すべてに礼を 言う心"

This is the core concept of my poem and the faith theme for us this year like the last year. When I prepared all the teachings for each of us to pick up, I had thought Mr. Tim Ogawa might pick this teaching up. Among 40 teachings Tim-San surely picked this right teaching up. Kami sees everything in Heaven and Earth at a glance.

The teaching I picked up was as such, "The foundation of faith is to be in harmony with one's family." The harmony in one's family is the foundation of all. The peace of the world starts the peace in one's family. To have harmony in one's family we should deepen peace and joy in our heart through everything that happens to us, whatever happens and no matter how difficult it might be.

The teaching that my wife Kanako picked up was as follows: "Without virtue, you will worry. With divine virtue, you will not worry." She is anxious about each and everything. Kami really wants her to pray for everything to Kami instead of worrying. For me her worries sometimes bother me and make me irritated. Therefore I should respect her worries as Kami's doing to develop my heart. I would like to reach to such a state of my heart that I could develop my unbreakable peace and joy in my heart through her worries and appreciate her worries.

I heard a story about our founder that I cannot forget. Here are the contents of that story: "Our founder sat at the Mediation place late at night on the cold winter day. There was a visitor. After the mediation our founder invited him to the dining room to continue to talk in a Japanese foot warmer there. There his wife Tose took a snooze. Our founder said to him, 'She is sleeping because she worked so hard during the daytime.' Let us go back to the worship hall to continue to talk, eating oranges incidentally because it was cold. The visitors amazed our founder's attitude because if he had been in such a situation, he should surely have scolded his wife."

We rang in the New Year with such marvelous workings of Kami. I now have great expectations of this year when we will celebrate our 5th Anniversary Celebration in November. In order for Kami's wish to be fulfilled for this year I will do my best to put my teaching and Tim-San's teaching into practice each & every moment & deepen unbreakable peace & joy in my heart, whatever happens & no matter how difficult it might be. Thank you!

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