Aloha, everyone. Thank you for returning to Taiheiyo Church, and for your dedicated performance of the Service. I’m sure God that Parent and Oyasama are smiling down on us seeing such a joyous performance!
We are approaching the culmination of the 130th anniversary year of Oyasama. How much have we progressed along the path of spiritual growth? Can we look back, through the 1,000-day season leading up to this year, and be certain that we have brought joy to Oyasama and God the Parent by our actions and the development of our faith? I hope the answer inside you is a resounding “Yes!”
It has certainly been a season of blessings. Personally, God has shown me miracles of salvation through administering the Sazuke. In the past few years I had been given many opportunities to pray for people diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is such a terrible disease – just hearing the word makes us cringe because it’s always so unexpected, and it adversely changes people’s lives in an instant.
But what is cancer? It’s a cell that continues to divide, whereas normal cells eventually die off. Cancer cells are immortal, so they lack the providence of Taishokuten, of severing or cutting-off. Who knows, someday in the future, cancer cells and the mechanisms that keep them dividing indefinitely might hold the key to prolonged or infinite life, as suggested in the Ofudesaki, Part IV versus 37-38:
- After that, you may stay as long as you wish, without illness, death, or weakening.
- Further, after the passage of long years, there will no aging at all.
For now, though, cancer is simply one of the most dreaded diseases in the world today.
Each time I administered the Sazuke for a cancer patient, I had to reach out to people and ask if I could pray for them. Every day after the morning and evening services when I offer prayers to Oyasama, I always ask for Oyasama to provide us with the opportunities to convey the teachings to other. And so we need to be on the lookout for Oyasama’s workings. If I hear that someone is sick or injured, I take it as Oyasama presenting me with that opportunity.
Once when we were living in the condo I learned that a young couple’s baby had leukemia. I met mom and baby in the elevator going up and as they got off on their floor I felt a push by Oyasama, and asked if I could pray for baby. So right there in the elevator lobby I administered the Sazuke and baby was a bit apprehensive of this stranger who was chanting and stroking his head and body. I was only able to administer the Sazuke once, but when I saw the family a few months later, mom said that baby was doing well and should eventually be cancer free. I felt so thankful for the blessings by God the Parent and Oyasama!
Another time, a friend of mine was diagnosed. Because she lived far away, I couldn’t visit often, but Keiko and I went over and prayed for her on a number of occasions. Although I didn’t see her much, I emailed almost daily to keep in touch, see how she was coping, and convey the teachings. She was tough but the combination of the cancer and also the chemotherapy made her really depressed. What made it worse was that doctors found that the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. She was at her lowest point then. I remember telling her to lean on God and that everything would be ok. Thankfully, the additional cancer cells were discovered during surgery, so they were able to remove everything they saw. That was about 2 years ago and now she is back to work, and getting back to a normal life.
Again, I was so happy she was blessed with a physical cure, but although I prayed for her during the 6 month ordeal, each time I suggested coming to church, attending shuyokai, or returning to Ojiba, she would change the subject, or be non-committal. She did come the day of my installation service, for which I was thankful. But I wondered why it was so hard to get someone to come to church, even after experiencing such a miraculous salvation.
Continuing to work at my job has proven to be fruitful, though. The days are longer and busier, and I have to rely on my father to perform kosha matsuri, which are all held during the day, but working a day job is a good way to find opportunities to pray for people, because you meet folks you may not otherwise get a chance to.
One work friend actually came here with their family each night for the 3-day prayer prior to undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer. She, too, received the blessing of becoming cancer-free. Then I thought, Oyasama drew them here to the church, how wonderful!
Then last year, my classmate told me about her father’s battle with cancer. He had been sick many years ago, and made a remarkable recovery; however, the illness came back and he was much older by this time. The first time I met him was about a year ago. He was a nice man who smiled a lot, even when just making conversation. Soon after, his health took a turn for the worse and he was hospitalized. We went to visit and administer the Sazuke, and we kept him in our daily prayers. Even after he was released into rehab and then returned home, we visited on occasion and listened to stories he liked to tell of his youth. I wished I had met him earlier when he was healthy, and a tennis champion. Despite our efforts and prayers, his condition did not show improvement, and I learned that he had passed away for rebirth while we were away during our summer pilgrimage to Jiba.
Although we were saddened by his passing, true to Oyasama’s words, buds did sprout from this knot, because I was able to officiate his memorial service, and through the prayers and conveying of the teachings, my classmate began coming to church. Not only that but she introduced me to others who needed prayers, learned to play some musical instruments, and began attending monthly services. Again, I cannot help but feel that God the Parent and Oyasama drew her to the church by way of her father’s illness. I hope that she can one day join us on a pilgrimage to Ojiba, and that she can continue on the path to sever the root of illness in her family.
I’m sure in your daily efforts you, too, have experienced stories of salvation through the Sazuke and prayers. In order to continue the momentum we’ve created during the 130th anniversary of Oyasama, the Missionary Department of Shuto Grand Church, has created and provided us with the Salvation Prayer Card to God the Parent and Oyasama. Through these cards, we will be able to enrich the substance of our churches, and enhance our salvation activities by putting an emphasis on praying for others. This is a salvation activity that can be practiced by everyone, young or old, regardless of whether or not you are a Yoboku. By promoting the use of this card, the spirit of salvation will surely blossom in our respective churches.
So, to explain a little how the card will be used:
- Fill out the card. Date, your name, church name, name of the person you are praying for (or initials). Circle the type of prayer (cure from illness, resolution of a problem, achievement of one’s wish, or “other”). Achievement of one’s wish…I guess this could mean praying for the conception of a baby, or maybe even passing a certain exam.
- One the backside, you are asked to circle the things you are trying to do in order to receive God’s blessings. You should make an offering of your time, your efforts, your labor, your sincerity, even a monetary donation known as ridate (upholding the truth), these are all ways we give of ourselves in order to receive the blessings of salvation. One of the well-known Osashizu says: Sah, sah, where there is sincerity, you shall receive sincerity. You may not know what My sincerity is. It is My providence – fire, water, and wind. Sah, sah, you are to purchase My sincerity. Purchase My sincerity with your own sincerity.
- After completing the card, hand it to the head minister of your church. For bunai churches, the head minister will then place the Cards on an offering tray (sanbo) and offer to God the Parent on your Monthly Service day, taking care to protect personal information. Other than the monthly services, you may offer the Cards when you are doing a prayer service or at daily services.
- After the bunai churches’ Monthly Services, place the Cards in a sealed envelope with the church name and the number of cards written on the envelope, then bring them for Taiheiyo Church on the 2nd Following the Monthly Service here, we will send all cards to Shuto, to be offered on the Monthly Service day of our Grand Church, after which, the Cards will be incinerated.
- If blessings are not seen for the illness or problems one month later, you may fill out another Card and offer it again. And please contact your head minister if you need more Cards.