Monthly Service in August : August 17, 2014

Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & a special, "Thanks" for attending this service. I hope you are all enjoying good health in excellent spirits.

The theme of today's monthly service is to encourage all students to do their best as they return to their studies. I pray for students to be healthy, enjoy learning & be good friends with each other at school.

Konko Daijin gave a special teaching for us to pray diligently, "For young people, have them become smart & able to remember things well."

So let us add our prayers for our promising young students to improve themselves in all aspects of their learning.

KCNA held its Annual 2014 Conference in Toronto last weekend. KC Chicago was honored to act as co-host church. Before the conference proper began we had several activities: Youth Camp, Young Adult Seminar (YAS), Family Camp & Spirituality Bridge (SB). Daichi flew to Toronto on an early morning flight Wednesday, Aug. 6 to join YAS group. Tim-san, my wife, Kanako & I drove to Toronto Wednesday morning to join SB. I was one of the staff responsible for this year's Spirituality Bridge. I'd planned it with Dianne Yoshida & Megumi Segawa, the other members of the staff.

This year's Spirituality Bridge focused on one of our Founder's most important teachings: "Everything that happens is Tenchi No Kami's doing." This was also the theme of the keynote speech given by guest speaker Rev. Motoo Tanaka from Tokyo set the tone for our conference; which I'll tell more about later.

SB started at 2:00 pm on Thursday, Aug. 7, with an opening service which I lead. Eight ministers & 14 lay people attended.

The 1st activity was an 'icebreaker' of two games led by Tim-san. They helped us become friendlier & showed us not to rely too heavily on our first impressions. Even though the first impressions are important, they can often be interpreted in a great variety of ways.

Participants were given their homework assignment. It was to think of & write about, "Who inspired your faith?" The attendees then divided into 5 groups & listened to each other's story. If you've ever participated in an activity like this you know it can be very enlightening.

Then I delivered an hour & 15 minutes speech about my father & his faith of life titled, "All is Divine Love". Tim-san brought his projector & we showed photos of my father & his family. Everybody seemed greatly interested in my speech & was impressed with my father's beautiful walk of faith very much, in spite of my English pronunciation being difficult to understand.

After dinner we had group discussions about "Living Daily with Faith." Each person discussed their own difficulties of developing a faith worth living for.

Friday morning all participants came together for a discussion focusing on the teaching, "Everything that happens is Tenchi No Kami's doing . This includes major upheavals."

I believe Kami's true nature is revealed in its most complete depth in this teaching & that when we clearly understand this teaching, we can grasp the essence of our Founder's faith.

So we thought it important just to listen to each person's thoughts about this teaching, so we talked about it together in one group.

I prepared three topic materials for this discussion. One was the excerpt from 'Term-Dictionary of the Konkokyo Sacred Book.' A Second was our prominent leader Rev. Masao Takahashi & his son Rev. Ichiro Takahashi's writings about this teaching. Rev. Ichiro Takahashi wrote, "Ikigami Konko Daijin was sent as the light & the true central source between the human world & the world itself. I reverently realize that Ikigami Konko Daijin appeared in this world to let us understand that everything & every happening alike is Tenchi Kane No Kami's doing." The third topic brief was a short outline of our Founder's personal history. Using some parts of it I talked about how our Founder had reached this teaching by practicing his faith to pursue Kami's heart through each & every happening in his life.

For two hours we had I believe, most fruitful discussion. Looking back on it, I think I was the person most blessed by this year's SB. I think that the longer it takes a person use their time constructively to prepare for anything, the more that person is blessed & it seemed to me that Dianne & Megumi felt the same way.

As I said in my introduction, KCNA's Conference started Friday afternoon. We divided the English adult groups into three for our discussion session. That meant one group consisted of 19 members from 13 years old to 80+ years old. This made our conversation very meaningful & fruitful. Every program including any games was well prepared. Everything turned out great & it became a very successful conference.

Among them the highlight of this conference was Rev. Motoo Tanaka's keynote speech. Through group leader's discussion the title of his speech was decided as follows: "Realizing Blessings in Misfortunes"

He started his speech about the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami that happened three year's ago, because it gave him much deeper insight of our Founder's faith. He showed many photos of it. When he visited the disaster site, he sensed a kind of fear, dismay & shock that he had never experienced before. That experience fundamentally affected his outlook on life, his world-view & his faith. It gave him the opportunity to realize the true meanings of our Founder's teachings.

He was also afflicted with duodenal cancer last year & went through a nine-hour operation. He wanted to get through the surgery with his faith. It was a difficult surgery & he truly thought if he wouldn't wake up, that would have to also be the blessing. He felt blessed because he could accept everything as Kami's arrangement. This experience made him realize one could transcend the matter of life & death by being one with Kami & that with faith we could get relief even in a life or death situation. In conclusion of his speech he encouraged us to become Kami by saving others.

His speech was awesome & we could hardly stop applauding him. Then he showed some videos of the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami. It touched all of our hearts very much.

Throughout this year's conference I had more than 100 % satisfaction. We will have our 5th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, Nov. 2 this year. So I left Toronto with my strong determination to welcome this anniversary as follows:

"Fearless of death,
           Exert & strive.
   Divine virtue is given.
       People are saved,
    The Way is open."

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