March 2016 Monthly Service Prayer
God the Parent, standing in the presence of Your Greatness, I, Rev. Wesley Mikuni, on behalf of the congregation, pray to You with wholehearted devotion.
In the beginning, this world was a sea of chaos and darkness, along with every other world in the universe. Longing to create something new and exciting You drew forth instruments and raw materials to produce human beings who would, over time, populate the earth. Our bodies are an incredible gift: each one unique from all the others, and yet functioning all the same through your heavenly grace. Even more grateful are we for the gift of free thought. Having created and sustained us for an immeasurable amount of time, You relinquished control over Your children by granting them the free use of mind; truly a testament to Your divine care and love.
Our original state of mind was indeed pure, and though the first-born human beings numbered over 900 million, we grew, matured, and passed away for rebirth all together, in unison. Our unity of mind is further evidenced as we all passed away for rebirth a 3rd time, together yearning for our original Mother.
Today the number of souls and free minds in the world has multiplied nearly tenfold. We have branched out to every corner of the earth and thus, have lost sight of the fact that we are all one family; children of the same Parent. The struggle to survive has led mankind to use our minds in ways that do not with accord with Your divine intention. Thus, we were drifting further away from the goal of the Joyous Life until you appeared in this world again, and through Oyasama, taught us the Truth concerning Your creation.
At this time, we are thankful and delighted to perform the Service as taught by Oyasama, and return our minds to the original state of purity and unity. Let us blend our hearts together and allow the words and meanings of the sacred songs resonate through our core, and may our single-hearted prayers to save the entire world reach up to the heavens and bring You joy and happiness. Please bless all those who are suffering, and give them strength to carry on. Please draw them to us so that we can comfort and guide them on the path to true salvation. And please let them experience the joy of salvation so that they can someday join us in working to save others.
MARCH 2016 SERMON
Good morning and thank you all for returning to Taiheiyo Church. Today we will hold our spring memorial immediately following the regular monthly service. Before we begin, I just want to spend a few minutes to convey my thoughts on this special day.
The spring and autumn memorials afford us the opportunity to honor those who came before us – in particular those who had worked hard for and contributed tremendously to the path so that it continues today.
In his sermon at the Oyasama 130th Anniversary Service, the Shinbashira stated: “This path is a path that seeks to realize the Joyous Life World by saving all humankind, regardless of how many generations it might take to accomplish it.” From the Osashizu, he quoted, “Because it continues, it can be called a path.” Then he went on to say, “The path – which our predecessors helped to build by working to spread the teachings – would not lead to the destination if we let it come to an end. Admittedly there will probably be twists and turns along the way, but the main thing is to ensure that the path continues without interruption and leads to a broad path that will take us all to the Joyous Life.”
Many years ago, the memorial services were actually separate services held on the fourth (last?) Sunday in March and September. The difference is that unlike the monthly services, the seated service symbolizing the Truth of the Kagura service around the Kanrodai, is not performed. Only the Teodori was performed, that is, dancing the Yorozuyo and 12 chapters.
In response to the busy schedules of the followers, and consequent low turnout at the memorial services, it was decided to combine the memorial with our March and September monthly services.
Nowadays, during the memorial segment of the service, we spend just a few seconds in prayer to pay our respects to the memory of our ancestors, friends, and colleagues. However, those who came before us, some of whom I have not even had the chance to meet, for example the founder of Taiheiyo Church, Rev. Matagoro Mikuni, dedicated their lives to spreading the teachings and doing salvation work – helping and praying for others. Even those who were not head ministers or heads of mission stations still went to great lengths to raise us and nurture us along the path, to instill in us the faith and the hope for the Joyous Life World. Surely they deserve more than those few seconds of our thoughts.
Today we are remembering loved ones, to whom we have said farewell 1 year, 5 years, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years ago. The seated service, as I mentioned earlier is to pray for the salvation of the people of the world; however, when we sing and dance through the Teodori today, let’s pay tribute to the memory of those lost loved ones and thank them for their long, long years of dedication and effort they put forth during their lifetimes. Let us also renew our vow to continue their efforts to spread these teachings to the community and deepen our own faith – and importantly to pass along our faith to our children – so that the path continues during our generation and beyond.
Lastly, as you may know, we have just observed the 5th year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which occurred on March 11, 2011. It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world in the last 100 years. The earthquake triggered tsunami waves that reached heights of over 40 meters: that’s 3 times bigger than the waves on the north shore during the Eddie Aikau held last month. Today as we perform the service, let us also honor the memory of the nearly 20,000 people who lost their lives to that earthquake and tsunami. Thank you.