Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the January Grand Service here at Tenrikyo Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings. I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!
Significance of Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary
Near the end of Her physical life, Oyasama urged the followers to perform the service despite the strict enforcement by the police not to performed it. After much discussion, the first Shinbashira, Shinnosuke, said to the followers, “Only those should perform who are willing to risk their lives no matter what measures the police use to stop the Service.” The service was finally performed on January 26, 1887. Oyasama withdrew from physical life at the same time the Service had ended, at about two o’clock in the afternoon, as if asleep. She was in Her ninetieth year.
We cannot see her physically but we believe that Oyasama is “ever-living” working day and night for world salvation. In the Osashizu, we read:
“Sah, sah, I am still living here. I have not gone anywhere. You must look at the path of daily life and ponder.” Osashizu, March 17, 1890
To commemorate the day of Her withdrawal from physical life, we conduct the January Grand Service. In 2016, two years from now, we will commemorate Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary. Let us all make firm resolutions to grow spiritually and receive blessings during this seasonable time; and return to Jiba for the 130th Anniversary.
Each Tenrikyo church has a shrine for Oyasama on the right side of the sanctuary. Although we cannot see Her, She is ever-living and working day and night for world salvation. Because we cannot see Her, it’s easy to forget that She is always with us. But when I see the shrine with the doors open, it reminds me that She is always here with us. The shrine doors are all open for all the shrines during the monthly service, but only Oyasama’s shrine remains open every day.
The Acquisition of the Back Property
As we announced last month we were able to complete the purchase of the back property in a timely manner with the support and assistance of certain key members, the seeds of sincerity planted by our predecessors, the moral support of the entire congregation and the mysterious guidance and blessing of God the Parent and Oyasama.
The mysterious blessing of God the Parent and Oyasama, was shown through the good timing of how this was accomplished. First was the fact that the sale of the property occurred at a time when we were able to gather people essential to make the purchase. Second, all key members of the church agreed to the purchase and support it with unity of mind. Lastly, we cannot forget the seeds of sincerity planted by our predecessors which made this possible. Also, the fact that we will be commemorating our 80th Anniversary later this year, the purchase gives it greater meaning and significance.
A little over a year ago, my son, Lewis, returned from Japan after serving in Jiba. While both of us were outside near the back property with my father, my father suddenly said to Lewis, “Lewis, buy the back property!” I kind of laughed, silently, because I thought it was a long and far off dream.
Our quest to obtain the back property which is 5,000 square feet and has two small houses, probably started when we first considered rebuilding the church in 1989, about 25 years ago. I remember my dad, the former head minister and I visited the former owner of the back property who lived across the street at that time to ask if he and his wife, wanted to sell the property which they were renting out. But they refused, saying that they were interested in purchasing our property. For that reason we decided to rebuild. As you can see we went ahead with rebuilding this church.
Years passed with many different tenants, some were friendly and some were challenging. Through it all we tried to get along with whoever lived there. The most challenging was the last tenant who played loud music late into the night and often invited friends over for loud conversation, music, playing The Beachboys live music, and drinking parties. Neighbors would tell me to call the police. Although, at times, I wanted to call, I didn’t, saying that we are indebted to him because he signed a letter supporting the church when we applied for the zoning variance. The zoning variance was required because we didn’t have enough space to operate as a church. Also, we make our share of noise as well whether it’s our service or some project I’m doing in the back. In addition, he saved his bottles and cans for our recycling fundraiser. Every couple months or so, I would give him a 12 pack of Kirin beer thanking him for saving the bottles and cans for us. He was really happy, but a neighbor said it didn’t make sense to do that because of his noisy behavior. Although, it wasn’t clear to me, I felt that, somewhere, in the back of my mind that my relationship with the tenants may have a direct influence on us acquiring the property.
In July last year, the tenants of both houses told me that they received notice from the managing company that they had to move out in 45 days, without any reason.
In September, the realtor representing the owners came to inspect the property and told us that the owners want to sell and that she will be listing the property very soon. Without really knowing whether we could afford it or not, I said that we would be very interested in purchasing the property. She then asked that we make an offer as soon as possible.
Later that month we held a church sale and by coincidence, the realtor held an open house for the property on the same weekend. Observing how well our members worked together for the garage sale, she later said to me that she had a good feeling and good impression of our church. She also donated some items for the garage sale.
In pondering over the purchase of this property, I thought that if another person or family purchased the property, it could be decades or another lifetime before we could get another chance. It was a chance we couldn’t miss. From about that time we started to do prayer service consisting of the seated service and 12 Songs teodori every night at 7:30pm.
After discussing the purchase of the property with key members of our church we decided to make an offer matching the asking price which we thought was very high at $680,000. A few days later, the realtor called saying that the owners really want the church to acquire the property and asked that we submit another offer. After discussing with our key members, we made a higher offer and they accepted. Later we found out that the owner, had two other offers that were much higher, but for some reason the owner still wanted to sell to us. For whatever reason, it was a great blessing for us.
Generally speaking, people can buy property, if they have the money and the highest offer. But in this case, the owner sold the back property to this church, even though they had higher offers. This is God’s miraculous working.
Oyasama once said, “If you believe in God, God is here for you, if don’t believe in God, God is not here. Also, “If you believe that whatever you receive as a grateful blessing from God, that held thought is God.”
Whatever miraculous and wondrous things happen, it proves that God is here. We should not forget that this wondrous acquisition of the back property did not happen overnight, but it is due to the seeds of sincerity, the performance of the salvation service and administering the sazuke, from the time of our first head minister, Rev. Tsugi Nagayama till now.
Thank you for your attention.
- Happy New Year! I would like to thank everyone for your support given last year. The major activities were the BGA Spring Camp & General Meeting, the install of the photovoltaic panels on June 29, the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba and the annual Tenrikyo Bazaar. Thank you very much!
- I would like to thank everyone for your support in helping with the MHQ and Pearl Church spring cleaning, the mochi pounding on December 30 and your generous New Year offerings. Thank you very much!
- Thank you for bringing your deposit cans and bottles for our fundraising drive. We are still continuing our fundraising efforts to fund our stone pavement project on the side of the church and repair the air conditional units downstairs. Please continue bringing your deposit cans and bottles and any yard work referrals.
- The BGA annual New Year Park Cleanup and BBQ Picnic will be held on Sunday, January 27 from 10am, please meet at Mission HQ at 9am for prayer service. This is open to everyone; however, please contact me to let me know who is coming so that we may prepare enough food. Meet at MHQ at 9am or go direct to Moiliili Stadium Park by 10am. If you have them, please bring your own cleaning tools such as rakes and dust pans. The LC will from start from the day before on Saturday, January 26, for kids 12 and above.
- The annual Tenri Cultural Center cleanup is scheduled for President’s day February 18th from 9am.
- Please welcome new faces: