Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & "Thank You" for attending today's monthly service for December, 2015. This is the final monthly service for the year. I hope each of you is enjoying good health & excellent spirits as we prepare to welcome in the New Year of 2016.
As you know, we had our Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony of KC Chicago on Sunday, Nov. 1. No matter how busy it'd been in preparing for the service, this time - strangely enough - my heart was filled with peace & joy to overflowing. I woke up with my heart full of the best gratitude early morning of Nov. 1st. When I stepped out of our church entrance & prayed between Heaven & Earth just before 4:00 am, a half moon was shining brightly.
Refreshed by the cool air I couldn't help but extend my appreciation to Kami. Then I stepped back in front of the Kami altar & offered my silent prayer. I sincerely prayed that we would have the ceremony filled with peace & joy as I'd been praying every day. I wondered what kind of divine workings Kami would manifest in today's ceremony.
The weather was indescribably beautiful & the ceremony was filled with a peaceful, joyful spirit of all attendees. Three young members from St. Louise came to join us & 17 adults & 6 kids solemnly witnessed this ceremony with divine gratitude. As we enjoyed a luncheon, it was served with harmony, constant smiles, & lively conversation.
I couldn't have asked to conduct a more beautiful ceremony through Kami's superb workings even though my faith could not, I feared, sufficiently express my thoughts to Kami's divine workings. However there was much more.
After the ceremony our son, Mitsunori's friend had brought a lot of persimmons. At our Parent Church of KC-Airaku, the persimmon is seen as representing "single-heartedness"... which I felt was Kami's message directly to me. I realized Kami wanted me to single-heartedly seek peace & joy in my heart to the extent my peaceful & joyful heart might benefit my surroundings near & around the world.
There's another more important story related to the beginnings of our church. It was about persimmons. Konko Church of Chicago was opened as a propagation hall on Friday, Aug. 1st, 1997. The former owner of our house had left behind, a floor lamp & a desk. I enshrined the Divine Reminder in our living room. I put the lamp as Kami's lamp in the Divine Altar & the desk, I used as the Mediation seat. When I sat for Mediation the 1st time, I was moved to tears with the feelings of my growing sense that Kami provided me this new worship hall. I have continued to sit at that Mediation place in high spirits to serve Kami & people in Chicago.
But no one came to seek Mediation. It was as though each & every day, I started from the scratch. Kami didn't seem to be working through the peace & joy I had in my heart at that time & I had to accept the fact that I had no power, no ability & no talent before Kami. As for looking into my heart, I came to realize I was blessed to train myself in the best possible place.
We came to conduct the Opening Ceremony of the Konko Propagation Hall of Chicago on Sunday, Nov. 2 in 1997. All the ministers in KCNA prayed heartily & many ministers & believers would come to Chicago to celebrate. One day I thought, "If no one living in Chicago will join that celebration, I will be very sorry for them." Therefore I prayed to Kami during that time; a silent morning prayer service.
Then Kami showed the following scenery in my spiritual eyes: "Persimmons were growing around the propagation hall. They seemed delicious. Thinking this was a gift to each attendee of the ceremony, I tried to eat one as a test. It was neither sweet nor astringent. Through this revelation I felt Kami told me the following: "It is more important to gratefully fill my heart with gratitude, than trying to deepen it by counting the number of people who were attending our ceremony.
I received such Kami's revelation that I had never forgotten. Therefore through these offerings of persimmons from my son's friend I realized Kami was pleased with the fact that my heart became grateful even a little bit. I couldn't help but swear to Kami that I would like to continue to develop peace & joy in my heart so that it would benefit both my surroundings & the world.
On Friday November 13th a world-shaking event happened in Paris. Eight Islamic State militants attacked separate places where people were enjoying a Friday evening's entertainment; including the Bataclan concert hall, in one of the busiest sections of the city. A coordinated series of shootings & suicide bombings killed 130 innocent people & severely wounded 352 more. The militants were shouting 'God is great!' while shooting. How could they do such brutal, inhumane things in the name of 'God' at the cost of their own lives?
They were all young people. It is natural to expect youthful days to be the time to most constructively pursue the truth of life which welcomes them to the world. Once given the precious view of the world, normal young people tend to do their best to accomplish the potential of their time allotted to their lives.
I have felt great responsibility as a religious leader; for desperate waste of these young people from countries all over the world who join IS & do such brutal, willful behaviors in the name of "God."
I am now sincerely praying that I may be of great service for many many young people in the world to know the essence of the Konko Faith which will surely lead to true world peace & live fulfilled lives as Kami intends. Konko Daijin, knowing the deep & vast teachings that were directly given by the Divine Parent of the Universe, set them down in words & deeds so that everyone could understand them. If our real message to live the Konko life of faith would reach those young people, I believe they would stop joining IS. I hope KC Chicago becomes a sanctuary for many young people in the world to gather together to learn the real human fulfillment with Kami & serve the true world peace.
I would like to show you two poems to describe this feeling of mine:
To you young people!
Your true Way to happiness
Is found in this Faith.
Come & learn it faithfully;
Become a light of the world!
Study how to live
By respecting everything
As divine will
That happens in your life,
Value it eternal life.
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