How do we know if we are maturing spiritually?

TENRIKYO PEARL CHURCH SERMON ‘ 2005 Nov     

Good morning! I would like to thank you all for your kind support and sincere offerings. I am sure that God the Parent and Oyasama is pleased to see you today to participate in this November Monthly Service 2005. As I mentioned in the prayer, our hearts go out to the victims of the recent Pakistan earthquake disaster. We have collection box for our disaster relief drive which will be donated to the Hawaii chapter of the American Red Cross for the specific purpose of relief for the Pakistan earthquake disaster. Please give whatever you can to help those in real need.

HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE ARE MATURING SPIRITUALLY?

What is spiritual maturity? What does it mean to grow spiritually? How do we know if we are maturing spiritually?

Faith is not only for people who are suffering from illness to always ask for help. Some people easily forget about God’s blessings when their problems have been solved. Faith is not a temporary thing to ask for help when you need it. Leading a religious life is to realize that we are kept alive by the omnipotent and divine Grace of God. We should always be thankful to our good health, and also appreciate whatever we have now.

No matter how much faith we have in God; there are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days. Unfortunate things happen unexpectedly sometimes. However, those who have faith in God can take it with joy that God has made a big misfortune into a small misfortune and a small misfortune into no misfortune at all. No matter what the circumstances are people who have faith in God can accept things with gratitude. I think this is what spiritually matured means.

     Here is a story I would like to share about Ms. Mai Motobuchi who experienced a wondrous blessing from God. The story was written in a small Tenrikyo booklet published by the Young Women’s Club at Church headquarters.

     Mai is a 31 year old chamber musician based in Boston, and performs in over a hundred concerts per year. She also teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Mai attended Tenri High school and came to the U.S when she was 18 years old.

After graduating from Michigan State Univ. she earned her masters of music at Rice
Univ. She knew no one there so whenever she felt lonely, she called her parents.
They always said to her: ‘God the Parent handles everything in a way that is the best for each of us.’ More over: ‘When you feel lonesome, you may find yourself complaining that you don’t have this or that. Instead if getting caught up in the things you don’t have, try counting the things you do have.’ These words helped her to overcome loneliness and difficulties. So she was able to encourage herself by thinking; ‘I have my family and friends, as well as this healthy body. How thankful I am.’

     During the summer six years ago, she went on a drive with some friends. Unexpectedly, her friends decided to extend their stay in Cleveland, so Mai decided to rent a car and drive home by herself. She booked a small and inexpensive rental car beforehand, but when she arrived at the rental car shop, the type of car she had booked, was not available. The store clerk apologized and rented her a bigger car from another shop.

     She started out on an unfamiliar journey by herself. No sooner had she got on the highway than it suddenly became pitch dark all around her, she found herself in the middle of a big storm. The heavy rainfall made it difficult to see the road in front of her, so she drove slowly. Before long, however, the trucks and cars around her slowed to a stop one after another, as if the drivers had sensed danger. In the next instant, her car skidded and spun around at a terrifying speed. It finally smashed into the guardrail and came to a halt.

     Later she found out that she had been caught in a tornado. The front of the car was completely smashed in, but she managed to crawl over to the passenger seat and climb out of the car. When the ambulance crew and the police officer saw her climb out of the car, they shouted with joy saying; ‘Oh, my God! She made it!’ One of the police officers said to her; ‘I don’t know if you are religious or not but you should thank God. It’s a miracle that you are alive!’

     The tow truck driver who came to tow away her car said, ‘You could have died if you had been driving a smaller car.’ What if a small car had been available at that time? What if the other shop had rented her a smaller car? These thoughts sent a chill up and down her spine. She expressed her gratitude to God the Parent from the bottom of her heart for having been able to be on her feet without injury. She could feel that God the Parent was actually protecting her by always taking the lead ahead of her.

     Mai accepted her parents’ words as the truth and counted her blessing and was grateful.

No matter how much faith we have in God; there are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days. Unfortunate things happen unexpectedly sometimes. However, those who have faith in God can take it with joy that God has made a big misfortune into a small misfortune and a small misfortune into no misfortune at all. No matter what the circumstances are people who have faith in God can accept things with gratitude. I think this is what spiritually matured means. I encourage everyone, please accept God’s words as the truth and walk on the path of spiritual maturity that will lead you to the Joyous Life.



Announcements:
1.     The Boy’s and Girl’s Association will be conducting their twice annual Leader’s camp and band leader’s camp during the Thanksgiving weekend on 11/26 & 27 at Dendocho.

2.     We are in the last year before the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama and I would like to ask all of you to participate by returning to Jiba in 2006. We hope to form a pilgrimage group for the children’s summer pilgrimage and hope that many of you can join us. However, you can return anytime during the year. I will be returning to attend the 120th Anniversary on January 26, 2006. If anyone wishes to join me on this trip, please let me know.

3.     There is no BGA Hinokishin this month due to the leaders’ camp.

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