New Year’s Day Sermon
Happy New Year! Thank you for joining us to welcome in the New Year. Also, thank you very much for all 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!
Furthermore there are many people who were unable to attend this service, but are praying with us in spirit from near & far as well. Five days ago, I received a letter from a young American living in another state. From Konkokyo chat rooms and my December sermon, he knew that thieves had entered KC Chicago & stolen some money. They decided to pitch in and raise some money to send a New Year’s donation to KC Chicago. There were 8 young Americans who joined together. That precious donation was included in his letter, which said, “As an offering of sincere gratitude to Tenchi Kane No Kami and as a token of our thanks to you for the guidance you have given us this past year.” I was moved to tears with the sincerity of those young members.
The New Year 2019 arrives. This year will be the most com-mem-or-a-tive year for us. Here in Chicago we will hold the 10th Anniversary Ceremony on Nov. 3. Konkokyo will celebrate the 160th Anniversary of the Divine Call during October & November, especially on Nov. 15 for us, because we believers in North America will make a pilgrimage to Hombu on the exact day when our Founder received the Divine Call 160 years ago. And KC Airaku will celebrate the 25th Memorial Anniversary of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo on Nov. 29.
Whenever I think of it, feelings of awe, gratitude and joy well up in my heart. A strong determination wells up in my mind to embrace the world with this faith, as did the Founder. Could there be any better time or way to remember Kami’s wish to manifest this way of faith through our Founder? In order to understand the essence of our Founder’s faith we now have all his handwritten materials. We already have both “Memoirs of Konko Daijin” and “The Record of Revelations.” Three years ago, our Konkokyo headquarters received new materials of our Founder's own writings from one of the Konko families. They were so important and may be the final handwritten ones of his.
What happened at his age of 42 in 1855? He was stricken with such a serious illness that the doctor gave no hope for his recovery. However, he was saved by Konjin through his sincere faith in that deity, even though Konjin was thought the most fearful deity at that time. He realized for the first time that he had come across the deity who would help people. Since then he did his best to seek & understand Kami’s true heart with all his heart.
Then on October 13, 1857 a man from Kameyama Village came and said, “Your younger brother Shige’emon bas become demented. He claimed that Konjin had possessed him. Deranged, he asked Bunji to come see him.” Our Founder rushed to him and through his voice, Konjin spoke, “Bunji, I’m glad you came. I had you brought here because I have a request for you. Will you fulfill My request.” Our Founder replied, “I will do whatever I can if it is Your request.” Konjin explained, “Shige’emon must build a new house, but he has no one to borrow any money from. What I want to request is for you to take care of the construction costs.” Our Founder affirmed, “I shall do so.”
Later Kami was pleased with our Founder’s acceptance of this request. It’s called Kami’s first request. Through the new materials we now know our Founder thought that this event was his first blessing from Konjin-sama, and the start of his faith. Since then he tried to respect each & every happening in his daily life as Kami’s sacred doing, whatever happened & no matter how difficult it might be. Through these efforts he always felt Kami near him and heard the Divine voice. He became closer & closer to Kami and communicated with Kami.
Then he received the Divine Call on Nov. 15, 1859. After receiving the Divine Call, Konko Daijin began to mediate between Kami and people for their mutual fulfillment. He did his best, day and night, without thinking of himself, to fulfill Kami’s wish for everyone to be saved and become a living spirit.
Fourteen years later he was ordered to remove the altar fixtures and stop the mediation by the government. This was the most critical moment in his ministry. Leaving the worship room and praying to Kami, he asked if there were any other way for people to be saved and fulfill their lives, even without a place for worship or a mediator, like himself. In reply he received the following Divine Reminder:
Tenchi Kane No Kami
-Divine Parent of the Universe-
Ikigami Konko Daijin
With all your heart.
Be one with Kami.
Kami’s blessings begin within
Hearts grateful and caring,
In harmony and joy.
Look to Kami always,
Now and forever.
On this very day, pray.
This Divine Reminder has become the central teaching of the Konko Faith. It creates a core of grateful and caring hearts, united in joy and harmony. Demonstrating this Divine Reminder (or in short, our peaceful joyful heart) is the essential foundation for human happiness.
We now can realize that our Founder had done his best to respect each & every happening in his life as sacred workings given by Kami with gratitude for his faith practice to deepen peace & joy in his heart. The year our Founder died, he gave this farewell poem to his older son, Hagio Konko:
“The true way of Konko
Makes the world bright,
Shines through Heaven,
And will last forever.”
金光の 真の道は 明らけき
What a marvelous conviction our Founder had about the true way of Konko. This true Way is the way of peaceful & joyful hearts of all people; it’s the way of mutual fulfillment between Kami & people, and the way of Mediation.
Our Founder once said, “I am aspiring for a blessing to embrace this world with this Way.” I believe this Way of a peaceful, joyful heart is the best one for this great city, which is at the heart of this wonderful country. In this Way, anyone, young or old, in good health or not, that is regardless of their situation, can practice and improve their lives when they choose to do so.
Therefore, in these next twelve months I shall do my very best to develop the peace and joy in my heart through everything that happens in my life towards an unbreakable heart, which is always seeking to connect with Tenchi Kane No Kami through Ikigami Konko Daijin. That is the essence of the Divine Reminder. I pray that Kami will be most pleased for us to open such a church in Chicago manifesting such a spirit this New Year.
As an expression of that spirit, I would like to share my New Year’s poems for 2019.
“A New Year arrives –
The commemorative year!
With singleness of
My peaceful and joyful heart,
Let me open this true Way!”
新玉の 記念（かたみ）の年に 和賀心
“No matter what things
I come across from now on,
Let me respect them
Thankfully, brightly with grace
As Kami’s sacred workings!”
いかならぬ 事に出会うも 鮮やかに
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. Through the faith may they be lead to a world of true peace & lives filled with Kami’s blessing. I hope KC Chicago becomes a Wagakokoro Center, where many young people come together to learn how to find fulfillment with Kami & live their lives truly in service of genuine world peace.
I have recited the following poem daily for three years and will continue to recite it every day:
“To you young people!
Your true Way to happiness
Is found in this Faith.
Come & learn it faithfully;
Become a light for the world!
若者よ 真実の道 ここにあり
Now and in the future, may this Konko Church of Chicago be filled with the peaceful and joyful hearts of all who come. May it become a place where Divinity and Humanity will meet together in prayer, rejoice together in gratitude, and delight together in mutual satisfaction. I am a happy human, simple & innocent. I am a human being that can’t but put trust in “All is Divine Love” & “All are Kami’s sacred doing.”
[Return to Sermons]