Keeping the Faith by Returning to the Origin – February 2013 Sermon

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the February Service here at Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings. I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama are really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!

Keeping the Faith by Returning to the Origin

In this busy world we live in, how can we keep our faith? How can we believe, when the world is telling us, “No need faith! It’s a waste of time!”? How can we keep our faith strong, vibrant and meaningful?

Faith is important and I will tell you why.

When we go about in our daily lives sometimes we’re so busy we might forget or just skip doing the morning or evening service or skip doing our weekly house chores. So what? It’s not such a big deal! When we think it’s not such a big problem, we don’t try to fix it.

Of course when a big problem happens suddenly, it catches our attention and we try to solve it. Most of you have heard of the story the frog thrown into hot water. To save itself, it jumps out right away. But when placed in the lukewarm water it stays in the water even if we raise the temperature. But the temperature is raised so gradually that the frog does not notice and it dies. It’s the same in our life, when our bad habits happen slowly, we don’t notice how it’s affecting our personality, our faith, our behavior and then our destiny. Then it becomes so difficult to correct our bad habits and we say, “That’s just the way I am.”

How does it start? It starts with putting things off, like, “I’ll do the dishes tomorrow, I’ll do the yard next week, or I’ll deal with the problem the next time it happens.” And when the time comes to do it, we never do. It also starts with small white lies, such as not cleaning your room when you said you did. Saying, something you bought was just $10 when it was a lot more. No one’s perfect and I would be first one to admit that I’ve done all of these at one time or another.

It starts with small things like this, when we think that, we’re not doing anyone any harm so it should be okay. But if we neglect it, it will become a big problem.

The story about the frog is not true story, but a metaphoric one that serves to illustrate a point, which is that small seemingly harmless bad habits can lead us on the wrong path if we do not redirect ourselves.

So how can we keep our faith in spite of everything that is happening around us? We keep our faith by returning to the “origin.”

What? What do I mean when I say go back to the origin? It means to go back to the original intent in God’s creation of human beings. By knowing of the origin, we will know what the purpose of our life is and what we must do. That’s why we say that Jiba Pilgrimage is important; because it means to go back to the “origin…” not only in the physical sense of the word, but in a deeper spiritual sense which is to learn of the origin. Every Tenrikyo church has the truth of the Jiba, which means that it has the received the sanction to be a place where the Service can be performed and where God’s teachings can be conveyed. This makes going to church also an important part of returning to the origin.

One of the major means of returning to the origin in the spiritual sense is to perform the seated service. In the first section we sing 21 times: “All ills sweep away and save us, please, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.” This first section helps us to prepare our minds by cleansing and purifying it, thereby returning our mind to its origin or its original pristine state, like brilliant diamond. Preparing our mind for what? To receive the precious truth about our creation, which is described in the second section.

We sing the second section just once: “Just a word to you, to what God is saying, listen please. Any wrong thing to you, I will never say. With this world’s earth and heaven as a model, husband and wife were created and thus came to be. This is this world’s beginning. Namu Tenri O no Mikoto.”

This second verse, first tries to capture our attention by saying “Just a word to you.” Then it says to listen to what God is saying and to trust in God, because God will never tell you anything wrong. Representing earth and heaven, God has created human beings and this is how we came to be. This is how the world began. The verse is so simple, yet so profound. We don’t notice how profound it is until we have purified our minds.

And in the third verse we sing: “All ills sweeping away, salvation I hasten, one and all purified, then Kanrodai.” We sing this verse nine times in groups of three. It says to keep sweeping for God is hastening. When all minds, one and all are purified; we can build the stone Kanrodai and realize the joyous life world. The Kanrodai is a sacred stand which marks the spot where human beings were created at Jiba. The present Kanrodai is a temporary one, made of wood, but when all humankind is purified, it will be replaced with a stone Kanrodai.

If you are lost and don’t know what to do, keep the faith by returning to the origin!

Return to Jiba, go to church and perform the seated service. These are simple but important ways we can return to the origin and thereby keep grounded in our faith. We will know what is important, what matters, and we will know what to do to achieve our goals in life.

This about Mrs. Taeko’s personal story. When she was 28 years old, her uncle who was head minister at that time, suggested that she attend the three-month spiritual development course in Jiba. Her parents were just members and did not talk much about the teachings, so she didn’t know much about Tenrikyo while she was growing up.

After entering the spiritual development course, she learned more about the teachings. One day in the second month of the course, during the morning service at Church HQ, she suddenly thought, “This is the true faith.” And at that time she didn’t know why but she decided to dedicate her life to this faith. That is why she is here at Pearl Church working for God. Now she understands that it is because she received the truth of Jiba, through purifying her mind and God taught her what is the most important thing in life and what she must do. She is the middle of three children and she feels that she is the most happiest and most fortunate among them, having dedicating her life to this faith.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Announcements

  1. Thank you for bringing your deposit cans and bottles for our fundraising drive. We are still continuing our fundraising efforts to recoat the roof in preparation of the solar panel installation later this month. Please continue bringing your deposit cans and bottles and any yard work referrals.
  2. Also thank you very much for helping at the BGA Leadership Camp and annual New Year Park Cleanup and BBQ Picnic held last month. No children from Pearl Church participated but three adult volunteers helped to conduct the camp. About 80 persons came for the Moiliili Stadium park cleanup of which 13 were from Pearl Church. Thank you very much. Thank you for volunteering your time to do nioigake in the community and contribute to world peace!
  3. This Saturday, February 16th a special lecture by Church HQ staff will be conducted for yoboku to help us prepare for the Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary. Those who are not yoboku, but have a basic understanding of the teachings, are also welcomed to attend. We’d like to encourage as many of you as possible to attend.
  4. The annual Tenri Cultural Center cleanup is scheduled for President’s day February 18 from 9am. Lunch will be served at 11am.
  5. The annual BGA Spring Camp will be held next month on March 29-31, during the Good Friday, Easter weekend. We would like to ask for everyone’s hinokishin.
  6. Please take advantage of these activities accomplish several tasks at one time:
    1. a. Sweep away your mental dusts and further your spiritual growth.
    2. b. Do nioigake by inviting friends and family.
    3. c. Transmit the faith to the next generation.
    4. d. Plant seeds of sincerity by sharing the joy of faith to the people around you and the community.
  7. Please welcome new faces: Kyoko Gakuen students Youichi Okamoto & Kinsuke Ito. Also two students staying at Setsumi’s place: Kiko Nakanishi and Ayako Kojima. A total of 26 students are visiting staying at various churches and families.

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