We Tend to Forget Our Obligation to God

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for making the time to attend the Spring Grand Service 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!

     I would also like to take this time to thank all of you for your support of Tenrikyo Pearl Church during the past year of Oyasama 120th Anniversary. And I wish everyone a Happy New Year in this 170th Year of Tenrikyo. So you could say that it’s been 170 years since Tenrikyo started.

WE TEND TO FORGET OUR OBLIGATION TO GOD

Last month, we talked about how science confirms rebirth and causality. Today we will discuss our obligations to God the Parent.

God the Parent taught us that this world and universe is the body of God. In the Ofudesaki, it says,

     This universe is the body of God.
     Ponder this in all matters. III: 40

Heaven, earth and everything that exists is the creation of God. Accordingly, the creatures, plants, fruits and human beings grow due to natural phenomena which originate from God’s blessings. However, God’s workings, i.e. natural phenomena, are too enormous for us to comprehend that we cannot actually feel it.

     For instance, the air we breathe. We hardly notice it; we don’t really appreciate its importance. The banana tree bears bananas, the avocado tree bears avocadoes, and the bougainvilleas bloom. This does not happen by human effort, but by the work of nature. When we put fertilizer and water for the papaya tree, it grows and bears fruit.

     Generally speaking, people will explain that this is simply natural phenomena. But those who have faith in God believe that the working of the natural phenomena is the working of the God.

     Under the sun during the hot days, we get thirsty and we ask for glass of water. And when we drink the water, it quenches our thirst with a sigh of relief and satisfaction, we say thank you to the person who gave us the water. However, we were actually relieved by the water, not the person who brought us the water. So generally no one says thank you to the water.

     Let’s say we have a bag of air and a bag of bread. Which one will you choose? Sure enough, especially if you are hungry, you will choose the bread. You can still live even if you don’t eat bread for one whole day. But you cannot live for one minute without air. You will die fairly quickly. Most of us tend to forget the importance of air in our daily lives, except for those who need oxygen tanks to help them breathe. These people are probably more conscious of the importance of air and breathing.

     Last year we had a long spell of rain which lasted for 43 days in Honolulu. We had a hard time drying our clothes. Reluctantly we took our laundry to the Laundromat to dry our clothes. Using the many quarters needed to run the dryers, I keenly felt the importance of dry and sunny days. In only a few hours the wind and sun dries our clothes.

     These are the blessings of fire, water, and wind.

     When we talk about faith, people pray to God: to bless the family, to keep healthy, or for protection from disasters. Some people say that their illness was cured due to their faith, but it is only the result of having faith. Curing of illness is not the purpose of having faith. Having faith in God is not only to ask for blessings or to be cured of illness, but to appreciate, to be grateful, to give thanks to God for our daily blessings and fulfill our obligations. But people tend to forget our obligations to God and appreciate just the small deeds and favors by our friends. For instance, if a friend gives us some avocadoes, we may pay him back with tangerines. If we borrow ten bucks, we give back ten bucks.

     God’s benevolent blessings are unlimited. We cannot put a price on it. So how can we not take our blessings for granted? What can we do and what should we do to show our appreciation to God for the benevolent blessings?

     We are taught that we borrow our body from God. To appreciate our healthy bodies, we do Hinokishin to help others and help each other. This is what God wants us to do.

     Since we tend to think that we are living by our own power, we forget about being grateful or we don’t realize that we are being kept alive by God’s grace. This will cause a big mistake in our life.

     There was an article in the Star Bulletin on December 28, 2006, titled ‘Fight the Stupor: Teen Care take sobriety to school’ The article was about how school counselors help troubled teens in high school. The article explained that students often have problems with their parents. Most of them are from single parent homes with a lot of drug abuse in the family, including the parents.

     When I read this article, I couldn’t help but feel that the parents are not teaching their children about appreciation and gratitude. For instance human beings cannot create rice, vegetables, fish, or meat. Because of this, we shouldn’t waste food. From this sense of appreciation for food and things, we can learn to appreciate and respect others: such as our children, our parents, our friends and neighbors. Once we as parents can teach and practice appreciation and gratitude to our children, we can bring them up in a responsible and nurturing environment. The children in turn will grow up to be responsible and nurturing individuals who care about people and the things they use.

     Of course we as followers of the Tenrikyo faith take it to another level by being grateful for being kept alive by God’s grace and perform Hinokishin in appreciation. This adds another dimension the nurturing of our children. Let’s not forget our obligation to God the Parent and work to build a joyous world through hinokishin.


Announcements

1. The Aloha Band has committed to sending the band again next year in commemoration of the 170th year of Tenrikyo. If you or your child, or a child you know wants to join the Aloha band, please let me know. There will be a practice held next Sunday at 1pm after the Dendocho monthly service.
2. This coming Sunday is Dendocho’s December Monthly Service.
3. The BGA will be having their leadership camp and New Year Hinokishin and BBQ Picnic on January 27 & 28. The leadership camp will be held from 10am 1/27 and end at the time of the New Year’s picnic on 1/28. The New Year’s park clean up and bbq picnic will be held at Stadium Park on 1/28. meet at Dendocho at 9am or at Stadium Park at 10am.

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