New Year's Day Ceremony on Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year! Thank you for joining us to welcome in the New Year. Thank you also very much as always, for the prayers & support you've given for KC_CHI throughout the past year. May each & every one of you enjoy a happy, healthy & prosperous New Year - 2018!

A new year 2018 arrives. I have been excited for today even before waking up this morning. Furthermore I was moved to tears when I stepped out of the entrance of our church just before 4:00 am this morning and saw the super moon shining brightly in front of me. Therefore not only will Kami be pleased but my heart is filled with joy also to see all of you at this New Year's Day Ceremony in KC Chicago.

One family living near is kindly joining us in this celebration for the first time. Young members, some new members had earnest desires to come all the way from the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa to join us in this ceremony They tried to do so until the last minute and I appreciate their efforts. However due to the ice storm from the Midwest to the East Coast they couldn't make it. Even so I hope all of you will take home a meaningful and enjoyable memory of today's service.

Every morning in my daily prayer, I pray sincerely that I can be of great service for many young people in today's world. May they come to know the essence of the Konko Faith. In it may they be lead to a world of true peace & live lives filled with Kami's blessing. I hope KC Chicago become a Wagakokoro Center, where many young people come together to learn real fulfillment with Kami & live their lives truly in service of true world peace.

I have recited the following poem daily for three years:

"To you young people!
Your true Way to happiness
Is found in this Faith.
Come & learn it faithfully;
Become a light of the world!
        若者よ 真実の道
            来たり学びて 世の光となれ

I have exchanged emails with five new young people since I returned to Chicago from Japan last October. I realized again that once people would get to know the Konko Faith, they would be interested in our faith. I think it very important. So once they contact with me, I do my best to respond to them as sincerely as possible. That is because they have their desire to learn our faith among many religions in the world.

The year our Founder died, he gave this farewell poem to his older son, Hagio Konko:

"The true way of Konko
Has been made clear,
Shines through Heaven,
And will last forever."
        金光の 真の道は
           天に貫き 幾世久しき

What a marvelous conviction our Founder had about the true way of Konko.

Ten years before this, our founder faced the greatest challenge to his life of faith. He was ordered by the Meiji government to remove all of the altar fixtures. He accepted the government's order and did his best to deepen his heart through this very difficult order. Kami said to him, "You have shown sincerity even to the government."

Then Kami revealed the Divine Reminder to our founder for the first time in human history. It was written in 34 Japanese words. During this service we recited it, but here I would like to make it short as follows: "Through Ikigami Konko Daijin, To Tenchi Kane No Kami, Pray with a single heart, Divine blessings are within our own peaceful & joyful heart, On this very day, pray." It shows not only the essence of the Konko faith, but also the composition of Mediation.

The peaceful & joyful heart is the highest level of one's heart and can be received when being one with Kami. The peaceful & joyful heart is the essential foundation for human happiness. All the conditions of human happiness come about limitlessly & sufficiently through peace & joy in our heart.

For ten years our founder had put the Divine Reminder into practice by respecting each & everything that happened as Kami's doing with gratitude. Then he had such brilliant conviction about the true way of Konko. The Divine Reminder itself is really the true way of Konko.

This year 2018 is the one when Konko believers do their best to embody the Divine Reminder day by day, make it public, and manifest it to the world.

With this spirit in mind, I wrote the following poems as a resolution for every moment of the coming New Year; 2018:

A New Year arrives!
My peaceful, joyful heart
Echoes the universe,
And brightens the whole world,
For which I sincerely pray.
        年うつり 天地に響く
           世を照らせよと 祈り奉らん

We've deepened our hearts in faith
For fifty years.
Let us fulfill Kami's truth
In the Divine Reminder.
        ひたすらに 心みがきて
           今ぞ発さん 天地書附  

This year KC Chicago will host the KCNA Conference for the first time with KC Toronto as co-host. The theme is "Smile from Within, through Power of Positive Talking." We are fortunate enough to have Rev. Kiyoji Konko, the second son of our Principal Mediator, the most Reverend Heiki Konko, as the keynote speaker for it. Kami has already started working vividly for the conference.

While we smile from within, let us prepare our conference as sincerely as possible and have a successful conference together.

Beginning this first day of the brand new year 2018, let us help each other develop our faith more & more perfectly in the coming 365 days. May this Konko Church of Chicago be filled with the peaceful & joyful hearts to welcome all who enter here. May this spot on our miraculous earth become a place where Divinity & Humanity will meet together in prayer, rejoice together in gratitude & delight together in mutual satisfaction. Thank you!

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