New Year Service
Su no Hikari Church Headquarters Altar Room, Atami
January 1, 2020
Happy New Year, everyone.
As it was also said in President Narii’s greeting, we are finally going forward under the name Sekai Meshia Kyo or World Church of Messiah from next month’s Risshun (Beginning of Spring).
Right now, what is each one of you feeling?
I don’t know about you, but in my heart is a burning feeling, something ablaze within me.
70 years ago, 1950, like a lion roaring out to the world, Meishu-sama voiced out the following decisive words: “World Church of Messiah will work in concert with Christianity and advance the salvation of humanity.” And with those words, he founded Sekai Meshiya Kyo, World Church of Messiah.
That was in 1950. From there, in the five remaining years of his life, Meishu-sama advanced divine work under the name of World Church of Messiah.
However, it was March of 1957, two years after his ascension that Sekai Meshiya Kyo was changed to Sekai Kyusei Kyo or World Church of Salvation. 63 years have passed since then.
The name of the church that Meishu-sama had chosen, just two years after his passing – only two years – was changed.
Now, 63 years later, we are allowed to use the name Sekai Meshia Kyo, World Church of Messiah. I believe that this is, in essence, a resurrection of Sekai Meshiya Kyo, World Church of Messiah, that Meishu-sama was truly wishing for.
Within you, perhaps, there may be some people who think that the World Church of Messiah that Meishu-sama founded 70 years ago is a little different from the World Church of Messiah that we are about to start this Risshun.
However, I do not think that is so.
Meishu-sama gave us various messages in his teachings on why he chose the name Sekai Meshiya Kyo, which he founded 70 years ago. In one of those teachings, he touches upon the Chinese characters used for Meshiya, meaning “Messiah,” usually pronounced “kyu-sei,” meaning “salvation.”
The reason why I am talking about this is because the three phonetic syllables for Meshia or “Messiah” that we use in Sekai Meshia Kyo is not “me-shi-ya” but “me-shi-a.” Sekai Meshiya Kyo that Meishu-sama founded 70 years ago uses the three syllables “me-shi-ya” for the Chinese characters of kyusei meaning “salvation.”
So, for some people, the church name is different. The name is different so the church that Meishu-sama founded and the church that we are about to go forward with are different. There are some who may think this.
But as I just said, when Meishu-sama founded Sekai Meshiya Kyo, he gave a message about this name.
In it, there is a point I’d like to mention. Meishu-sama said that a name such as Sekai Kyusei Kyo having the two Chinese characters of kyusei read as “kyu-sei” would be “Eastern in nature and uninteresting.”
Furthermore, he said that, with such a name, salvation would be limited to the East. In other words, it is not a suitable name for the salvation of all humankind. And so that is why he assigned the phonetic syllables “me-shi-ya” meaning “Messiah” to the Chinese characters of kyusei meaning “salvation.”
That is to say, we have been using Sekai Kyusei Kyo or World Church of Salvation for 63 years and use it even now as if nothing was wrong; the name in which we read the Chinese characters for kyusei as “kyu-sei” meaning “salvation;” the name that Meishu-sama said was “Eastern in nature and uninteresting” and was not suitable for the salvation of humankind.
I feel that we have done a truly regrettable thing to Meishu-sama.
We often say, “Meishu-sama’s teachings this, the teachings that,” “That is in the teachings” or “That is not in the teachings.” However, this is an issue that stems before talking about the teachings. This is an issue of our identity.
For Meishu-sama, this is the cherished identity of our church. We changed it, ignoring the will of Meishu-sama, and went on for 63 years.
Or there are also people who think there is a difference between “Meshia” and “Meshiya.” We are “Meshia” with an “a” and Meishu-sama was “Meshiya” with a “ya,” so some might say that there is a difference.
But it is not this either. In the first place, the word “Meshia” with an “a” did not exist during Meishu-sama’s lifetime.
Some of you may already know this, but during Meishu-sama’s lifetime, words of that kind such as Itariya (Italy) or Ajiya (Asia) were all spelled using the “ya” syllable. In 1991, the nation’s policy changed and all those words are now spelled with the “a” syllable. Today, we no longer use Itariya, but rather, Itaria; no longer Ajiya, but Ajia.
As such, Meshiya is now Meshia. So, if you look for Meshiya in the dictionary, it will not come up. It will come up as Meshia. Conforming to his time’s customary practices, Meishu-sama used Meshiya. Were Meishu-sama here now, he would naturally follow today’s practices and use Meshia.
Or there may be the following opinion: Meishu-sama used Chinese characters for Sekai Meshiya Kyo. But Meshia of Sekai Meshia Kyo does not use Chinese characters, rather phonetic syllables. There’s a difference there.
Unquestionably, at the beginning of the church’s founding, Meishu-sama said that the Chinese characters kyusei meaning “salvation” expressed the East. Assigning to the Chinese characters phonetic syllables, in other words, the syllables for the Western word Meshiya, it would combine the East and the West.
However, less than a year after the church’s founding, from around October of 1950, within his teachings, alongside the use of the Chinese characters read as “me-shi-ya” in Sekai Meshiya Kyo, he clearly uses only phonetic syllables for Meshiya, in phrases such as Meshiya Kyo or “our Meshiya Kyo is” without the Chinese characters. Even in the hymns we offered today, only the phonetic syllables were used in the first hymn. (“The world came to a standstill / With no way forward or back. / Alas! / What would become of the future of humanity / if Meshiya Kyo (Church of Messiah) does not appear!”)
The words of this hymn, themselves, are direct words from Meishu-sama, and here, too, he uses the phonetic syllables for Meshiya Kyo.
And so, at the beginning of the church’s founding, there may no doubt have been a significance in using the Chinese characters and the phonetic syllables together. For Meishu-sama, “At any rate, I want to put forth the word ‘Meshiya (Messiah)’. I want to put forth the sound of ‘Meshiya (Messiah).’” I believe these thoughts were very strong. That is why in less than a year after the founding of the church, Meishu-sama started to use the phonetic syllables for Meshiya in Sekai Meshiya Kyo in his teachings.
So, I regard the use of these phonetic syllables in Meshia Kyo, our Sekai Meshia Kyo, as Kyoshu-sama receiving Meishu-sama’s wishes, and thus, what Meishu-sama believed to be the most fitting name for the church to advance his religious activities, he bestowed upon us. I believe this is what will begin from this coming Risshun.
70 years ago was the first Risshun since Sekai Meshiya Kyo, World Church of Messiah, was founded – the very first Risshun when the church was founded. At that time, Meishu-sama released several hymns. The first hymn read as follows:
“How joyous it is! / This year, / Today, / On Risshun when spring begins, / I have founded Meshiya Kyokai (Church of Messiah)!”
Meishu-sama uses the phrase Meshiya Kyokai (instead of Meshiya Kyo, both of which mean Church of Messiah). He may have been intending to go with the term Meshiya Kyo (more literally, “Messiah Religion”) but as you can see, when he announced the inauguration of Meshiya Kyo, in the very first hymn he uses the words, Meshiya Kyokai or literally “Messiah Church” (The word kyokai has a strong connotation of a Christian church).
Today, all of our centers of religious activities are called “church,” and of course, the word “church” is a term with a Christian ring.
70 years ago, Meishu-sama used this word “church” in the very first hymn for the inauguration of Meshiya Kyo. In the very first hymn that the members who became part of Meshiya Kyo sang had the phrase “I have founded Meshiya Kyokai (Church of Messiah)!”
As Meishu-sama said to the point that Church of Messiah would work in concert with Christianity, he was so bold as to choose a sound with very Christian overtones in the first hymn to be offered commemorating Meshiya Kyokai, Church of Messiah, and then have his followers offer those hymns to God.
Whether Meishu-sama was present or not at that service, I don’t know, as he usually did not attend the services themselves, but he had his followers offer those hymns to God. As his followers, we must take Meishu-sama’s thoughts and feelings in composing this hymn very seriously.
From here on, from Risshun, we will be advancing activities under the name of World Church of Messiah. There is this question: Are we worthy enough existences to be using the name that Meishu-sama used?
Is it because we have some kind of merit that we are allowed to use this name? Did we have the right attitude toward Meishu-sama? Or the right attitude when serving? Did we have some sort of accumulated virtue? Or maybe Meishu-sama recognized something in us? Is that why we are allowed to use the name World Church of Messiah? Are we worthy enough existences to use this name? Or not?
I believe that we are not actually worthy existences to be inheriting the name that Meishu-sama chose.
That is because, in these 63 years, we have ignored and cast aside the church name that Meishu-sama chose, and we have used the church name Sekai Kyusei Kyo – the name that Meishu-sama even said in his very own words was “Eastern in nature and uninteresting” – like nothing was wrong with it.
Also, the year before Meishu-sama passed away, even though he was truly suffering from brain hemorrhaging, he left us with words that he believed to be an important message: “to be born anew.” At the same time, he also left us with words regarding Johrei. He said, many times, that “Johrei is not as important now. From here on, we enter the world of sonen.” Even in regard to these words on Johrei, just how much did we seriously receive Meishu-sama’s will and wishes?
Rather, haven’t we come all this way until today doing divine work the way we wanted?
Also, what about this: After Meishu-sama passed away, Sekai Kyusei Kyo established Kyoshu-sama as the one who succeeds the sacred work of Meishu-sama and the one who is the central existence of the church. To this Kyoshu-sama, a few people have been taking actions such as secretly following him and ousting him. But actually, this is a reflection of ourselves.
With Kyoshu-sama as the center of the church – and of course, Kyoshu-sama is not God; he is not, but – our posture and attitude toward the central existence of the church is a reflection of our posture and attitude toward the central existence within us, that is, God.
In this sense, we have truly rebelled against God, against Meishu-sama and against Kyoshu-sama. We have rebelled, but, in order for God to advance His salvation, He one-sidedly united us to the name of Messiah, forgave us and is wanting to use us in His divine work. He is doing this one-sidedly.
However, regarding this re-inauguration of World Church of Messiah, each one of you is being entrusted in deciding whether you take in what I am saying now or not.
As an example, if you were a child, you have a father. Let’s say you don’t listen to him and have long rebelled against him. But to you, his own child, he says, “I’ve forgiven you. Won’t you come live with me in my house?” To that, as his child, we say, “I haven’t seriously rebelled. So I don’t need to go back. I’ll continue doing things the way I want.” And we wander about endlessly – there’s this option.
Or it is like this: We may say back to him, “You say that but I haven’t rebelled against you. I haven’t done that so, as expected, I will return to your home, and I will use your things – God’s love, His power and His light, so to speak – as I have been using all this time.”
But in actuality, God is saying to us, “I think you have been rebelling against me all this time. But I have forgiven you so won’t you return to me and live together with me?” To this, if we are able to think something like, “You have forgiven even someone like me, united me to the name of Messiah, and I can live with You, God, my true parent. Please use me hereafter in Your divine work,” and if these thoughts of ours extend to the surrounding people, I believe that this is God’s true love that spreads and is conveyed to the people around us.
To go forward as World Church of Messiah means that we gather under the name of Messiah and go forward under the love of God. This is a truly grave matter.
We have, until today, rebelled against God, rebelled against Meishu-sama and rebelled against Kyoshu-sama. But God forgave the likes of us. He forgave us one-sidedly. And so that is why, with sincere repentance – with sincere repentance – let us be used in the divine work of World Church of Messiah. I believe that we must go forward as World Church of Messiah with this in our hearts, not only now, but from now on and forever.
If we do so, there is no doubt that this would make God happy. And if God’s happiness spreads throughout the world through us, I believe that World Church of Messiah will surely become a great religious organization.
Holding tight to these hopes, I want to walk together on this path with all of you hereafter, and, together, with these sentiments, I would like to welcome the day of Risshun next month.
Thank you very much.