2018-03 Rev. Hironaga’s Sermon

This month, we receive a wonderful sermon delivered by Rev. Ken Hironaga, head minister of Shuto Grand Church, speaking about the importance of husband and wife, and the family.  Please enjoy.

Congratulations on your March Monthly Service.  I will now begin today’s sermon. I ask for your kind attention. Today, I would like to speak on the Joyous Life which is the purpose of our faith.

In Chapter Three (The Truth of Origin) of The Doctrine of Tenrikyo it is written:

In the beginning, the world was a muddy ocean. Tsukihi, God the Parent, finding this chaos unbearably tasteless, taught of creating human beings in order to see the Joyous Life and thus share in that joy.

Looking carefully through the muddy ocean, God saw a fish and a serpent amid many loaches. Planning to make them into models of husband and wife, God summoned them. Discerning their single-heartedness, God obtained their consent and received them, promising that when the years equal to the number of their first-born had elapsed, they would be returned to the Residence of Origin, the place of original conception, and would be adored by their posterity.

Also, a passage from The Songs for the Service (Mikagura-uta) reads,

Representing heaven and earth

I have created husband and wife.

This is the beginning of the world.

In other words, with the divine intent of seeing human beings live the Joyous Life, God the Parent created the first couple, that is, the first family. Moreover, husband and wife perfectly equal to each other without one being superior over the other. Because husband and wife were created on that premise, they were not brought together after creating male and female separately. That human creation began with husband and wife is a distinctive feature of the Tenrikyo teaching. Therefore, the Joyous Life began with husband and wife, that is to say, the family.

This is also shown in the life of Oyasama. Tenrikyo began in October 1838 when God the Parent was revealed through Miki Nakayama. Upon becoming the Shrine of God the Parent, Oyasama said, “Whoever comes to this house shall never leave without being filled with joy. To Me, the Parent, all human beings in the world are My children. She continued giving to the needy ever more generously until finally every storehouse on the Nakayama property was completely emptied. Life continued without having rice for the following day. Eventually friends began to distance themselves and days continued without anyone coming to visit.

Together with Her family, Oyasama went through a period in those circumstances. When God the Parent was revealed through Oyasama, She was a 41 year old mother of four, Her youngest child was then less than a year old. Please imagine what you would do if you were in the same situation. For me, I may choose to live alone and leave my family rather than having the children go through such hardships. However, Oyasama chose to endure any hardship together with Her family.

The fifty years after becoming the Shrine of Tsukihi until Her physical withdrawal is called the Divine Model, a model way to help us in our pursuit of the Joyous Life. It is a model way of how to live together with our family.

Of course, by simply having a family does necessarily guarantee that we will be happy. Even between husband and wife, parent and child, and very close siblings, it is not unusual to have an unpeaceful situation.  Regarding human relationship, in Japanese they say, “Siblings have a good relationship”, or “Husband and wife have bad relationships”.

In regards to this saying, my late father said, “When they say the relationship between husband and wife is bad, it is not the husband who must rectify, nor is it the wife who must straighten out oneself. It is the relationship that must be corrected, and it is the duty (role) of we, the faithful to help them in that resolve. It’s a delicate expression, but to create a joyous family, this effort is indeed necessary.

On an earlier occasion, I had a discussion on the topic of family with about twenty ladies. One woman pointed to another (I will call her Mrs. A) and said, “Rev. Hironaga, Mrs. A and her husband is the happiest couple here.” Then the other ladies followed in unison, “Mrs. A and her husband are really a loving couple.”  I said, “Is that so? “ Then I asked Mrs. A, “Would you kindly share your secret behind your happy relationship with your husband?”

“There is no secret”, she replied.  Then I said, “But everyone says you do, so surely there must be a reason. Is there anything that you have been mindful of and continue to do from the day of your marriage until today? It could be anything, however trifling.”  Mrs. A thought for a moment and replied, “Nothing in particular but there is one thing I’ve always continued to do. My husband drives to work early in the morning and returns in the evening. Iam a housewife and therefore always at home. It’s a small house so I can hear the car when he returns and I greet him at the door, always taking a glance in the mirror before I do so. That’s about it.”

I thought to myself, “What’s unusual about that?”  However, the other ladies said surprisingly, “That’s amazing !”  I wondered why Mrs. A looked in the mirror before greeting her husband when she didn’t have time enough time to put on her make-up. It was to check what kind of facial expression she had. I’m sure she wanted to make sure she had a pleasant look when she greeted her husband after working hard throughout the day.

I once heard a psychology scholar say, “A person’s feelings unexpectedly passes on to others. Feelings of like or dislike especially, is often passed on.”  Mrs. A’s husband probably doesn’t know that she glances in the mirror before greeting him at the door. However, I’m sure Mrs. A’s feelings toward her husband is felt by him. And because it has continued for many years, it is without doubt the foundation (basis) of their harmonious relationship.

My eldest daughter was married on March 11 last year. When she was born after two older brothers, being our first daughter, I was very happy. There is a saying in Japanese, “The apple of one’s eye” (Even if it is put into the eye, it causes no pain at all). That’s exactly how I felt. My daughter also loved me and never left my side.  However, when she reached the age of 14, her attitude on life took a sudden change. During Middle School she suddenly left to play with friends till late hours and often didn’t return home for 2-3 days.

That same daughter left high school after 2 months and said suddenly that she was going to live in Nagoya with friends. Nagoya is approximately 600 kilometers from Yamaguchi Prefecture where Shuto Grand Church is located.  To have a 17 year old daughter depart to a place that far away is an extremely worrisome matter. She is one who would not listen once her mind was set, so we decided reluctantly to let her go. Her friend was an excellent student who studied earnestly and because I knew both of her parents, and with a strong hope that they might help her to turn over a new leaf, I drove her to Nagoya on my car.

As I started to drive home after dropping her off at the apartment, I felt a loneliness like I’ve never felt my whole life. However, when I look back, I think that she must have earnestly felt the need to experience life in a different environment.  At Nagoya, my daughter worked in the office at the Ote Furniture Store, then moved to Tokyo several years later where she was employed by a printing company as a designer, which was her long-cherished desire. She is now happily married after meeting her husband three years ago.

The relationship with my daughter who, as a child always use to say, “I love you daddy” seems to have returned to those days of our loving parent-child relationship.  What did I do for my child who left home at the age of 17? First of all, I refused to cut our bond at any cost and went to Nagoya and brought her to Ojiba to worship and attend the Besseki Lecture. I also enshrined a family shrine and continue to visit her whenever I’m in the Nagoya-Tokyo area on church business.

That’s the extent of what I did, but there is one more thing that I continued to do during the entire period. I never used the words, “Do whatever you want.”  The regular complaint of my then 14 year old daughter when she began to act rowdily was, “Just leave me alone”. Everytime she said that, I was tempted to say, “If that’s what you say, just do what you want”….However, I felt that if I answered her in that way, I would lose my role as a parent, so I made sure to never use those words ever.

I think it’s the best resolve I have made in this lifetime. The bond between two people cannot be severed no matter how one tries to do so if the other makes a determined effort to retain that bond. But if both sides relinquish that effort, the bond will be severed simply.

To create a joyous family, effort is required.   Then, who is to make that effort?  Is it the husband? Is it the wife?  Is it the parent? Is it the child?  No, the only one who can do it is the self.  If one desires to create a joyous family by any means, one must first make repeated efforts in that endeavor.

Of course if the entire family makes an effort, a joyous family can surely be attained. However even a loving wife or a pretty daughter have different minds, therefore, outside of the self, it is not certain whether the others will make an effort, nor can you assign them roles. For that reason, there is no concrete method other than making the effort by oneself.

Whether it is guiding your family to joyousness or in making your church become a joyous place of worship depends upon your minds.

It is written in the Ofudesaki,

Ponder and come follow Me with firm resolve.

There is a path of hope in the future.                            ( 5-24 )

Believing in tomorrow’s Joyous Life, look forward to tomorrow’s Joyous Life.  Resolve your mind to begin making a sincere effort.  Let us walk the path of faith.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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Taiheiyo Church

I am a fourth generation American of Japanese descent. My great-grandfather immigrated to Hawaii in 1907, and founded Taiheiyo Church in 1931. My grandfather became the 2nd head minister in 1956, and my father succeeded him as the 3rd head minister in 1981. On November 7, 2015, I was installed as the 4th head minister.

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