Aloha, and good morning everyone. Thank you for presence at today’s Monthly Service. Your attendance is very much appreciated especially by the ever-living Oyasama. Each month there is some concern, whether or not we will have enough people to perform the service completely, so it really means a lot to have everyone join in.
In The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, we read: “The church is a place where the truth of single-heartedness with God is conveyed and where single-hearted salvation is practiced.”
In carrying out its mission to convey the truth of single-heartedness with God, and to practice single-hearted salvation, the monthly service is granted to be performed as the most important ritual of the church. This is so that the brothers and sisters of the path may come together with a unity of a purified mind, in order to receive the truth of the Jiba in our own locales. For those who are members of bunai churches, it may be up to three services per month, including Dendocho, so I thank you three times as much!
A further interpretation of the mission to convey and practice single-heartedness with God is to have a place where followers can meet and deepen their faith together by discussing the teachings with one another. In Japanese, they call it “Danji-ai” (discussing with one another).
So this church, and other churches, which have this connection with the truth of the Jiba, are crucial for cultivating and putting the faith into practice. Remember that when cast away our self-centeredness and go through each day with joy in our hearts, that joy is reflected to God and back to the earth as abundance and prosperity, so we are doing our part to save the world. Trying to learn the teaching by ourselves may lead to complacency, or it may even distort our faith. Also, since we are working for the salvation of others, this effort, too, is best facilitated through a church connected to Jiba.
In song 5, verse 10:
Dodemo shinjin suru naraba, ko musubo ya naikaina.
Since firmly we are determined to believe, let us form a brotherhood.
In this verse, the word Ko, translated as brotherhood, refers to a fellowship, a place where followers of Oyasama could gather in solidarity. It’s not known when the first fellowships were established, but from the early 1860s, Oyasama began urging followers to form fellowships. This eventually led to the formation of churches in 1888, just a year after Oyasama hid Her physical presence.
In the olden days of Taiheiyo Church, even before the time when bunai churches were formed, I imagine the church was a bustling place, full of activity and, of course, joyousness. We had many carpenters so I’m sure some kind of construction was going on all the time, and the women were probably busy preparing meals or doing handicrafts. Through the efforts and sincerity of the early followers, we are now blessed with this spacious property, located in one of the most convenient, yet tucked away places on the island.
My dream, ever since I took over the church, has been to make the church a place for gathering, to foster this mission. It has been, the inspiration for the changes and activities that have been going on at Taiheiyo:
- from the creation of the kids’ play area downstairs
- to the narimono/otefuri practices
- to the mini-garden that I planted
- to participating in the joint-church curry lunch fundraiser
- to having the garage sale
- to our weekly talk stories (now talk story Tuesdays)
- and our latest initiative – the food pantry
All of these are grounded in the pursuit of making Taiheiyo a happy gathering place for our members to engage in Danji-ai, and Hinokishin at the church. Even the daily Facebook videos, which may seem counterintuitive because it allows followers to connect without physically returning to Taiheiyo, is rooted in the desire to have members deepen their faith, which might then foster a yearning to seek more by coming to the church.
I recognize that people work, have busy lives, and that many families live far away from the church but I believe that if we listen for Oyasama’s voice, and really ask ourselves how we can cultivate our faith by planting seeds of sincerity, I’m sure we can find a way to make it here. Joining us for morning or evening services; on the weekends to help with osagari. Or just to come and have a cup of coffee and talk story.
One thing brought to my attention on several occasions is the lack of order of things that come about. Specifically, I have received feedback that most of the initiatives that I had mentioned previously, were spearheaded by and carried out without properly discussing enough with others in the congregation – for this I apologize, as I tend to rush into things when I have these ideas. However, Tenrikyo believes in discussing any matter together before making decisions about it, which helps to unify the minds, and results in each person becoming spirited – that is the goal, to make everyone who comes here spirited.
So I have some “homework” for everyone during the luncheon downstairs. We have some pens & papers prepared, so I would like to ask each person to write down at least one thing you would like to see at Taiheiyo Church that would interest you; that would make you want to participate. I cannot guarantee that all suggestions will be implemented, but I can review the ideas with the other head minister and further pursue those that are feasible.
If we want to bring joy to God the Parent, so that God accepts our sincerity and bestows blessings to our community and our world, we should offer our sincerity by increasing the joy and substance of this church, and the way to do that is to gather together and discuss. Thank you very much for your kind attention.