Good morning, everyone.
As I said at yesterday’s Risshun (Beginning of Spring) Service, the resurrection of the name of Meishu-sama’s World Church of Messiah is a resurrection of not just the name. It is the resurrection of Meishu-sama’s will embedded in the name.
And that will, as I said yesterday, is to “work in concert with Christianity, strive to save humanity and lead it in the right direction; I ask God to use all my heart and soul to achieve this task.”
Meishu-sama said “all my heart and soul” to achieve the task. “All my heart and soul.” This shows an extraordinary resolve on his part.
During the same period, Meishu-sama said that “Church of Messiah will become extremely close to Christianity.”
So the most important issue regarding the resurrection of Meishu-sama’s World Church of Messiah is first about its relationship with Christianity, isn’t it?
With the resurrection of World Church of Messiah, there is also one other important matter for us, and that is Johrei.
The first issue of the church magazine released after Meishu-sama’s ascension was issue no. 68 of Heaven on Earth. There may be some of you who have read this, but written in there is what Meishu-sama said soon after he received the brain hemorrhaging purification. He said, “Johrei is not as important now.” He said, “The time has changed. It is different from before.” Then, “From here on, we enter the world of sonen.” “Pray in your heart.” Still further, it is written that Meishu-sama “said these repeatedly.”
As a specific example, there was a close assistant of Meishu-sama who had burned her face and, as usual, asked Meishu-sama for Johrei. He said to her, “It is different from before. From here on, sonen is particularly important.” Still more, it is written that Meishu-sama harshly reprimanded her for asking him for Johrei.
There, as everyone prayed in their hearts, the next day, her burns completely cleared. I believe it was that kind of episode.
And it is written that when she went to report the details to Meishu-sama, he said, “This is the one and only unique example.” He said the “one and only unique example.”
He said that “Johrei is not as important now. From now on, we enter the world of sonen. Above all is sonen. Pray in your heart.” That incident happened and the assistant was healed. To that, Meishu-sama said, “This is the one and only unique example.”
I don’t know if Meishu-sama himself already saw that he would be leaving the earth not too long after saying this, but the fact that God said this through Meishu-sama means that this message was meant for us. Meishu-sama actually left this for us, this “one and only unique example.”
“Johrei is not as important now. From now on, we enter the world of sonen.” I believe what Meishu-sama means by saying this is just how important our thoughts and feelings are rather than raising our hands. He is saying “Johrei is not as important now,” so there must be something more important than raising the hand.
Here is what I think. During World War II, there was the view that the emperor of Japan was one body with the country. So when the national land was stricken by war, the emperor himself was stricken. In the same way, I believe that Meishu-sama regarded his own body as the church itself.
When Meishu-sama received the brain hemorrhaging, he faced the reality that he could not raise his hand. At that time, Meishu-sama must have thought, “I cannot raise my hand. Does that mean I cannot Johrei? No, that’s wrong. I can connect to God through my thoughts and feelings. Even through my thoughts and feelings, I can Johrei.”
On the other hand, were Johrei only possible by raising the hand, would we say to Meishu-sama who received a brain hemorrhage and could not raise his hand, “Meishu-sama, you cannot Johrei”?
So instead of regarding the fact that with his brain hemorrhage he could not raise his hand was simply a problem of his own body, that he “is not able to Johrei,” Meishu-sama regarded this as a testament to how the divine work of the entire church would change in a drastic way. That is why he said, “Johrei is not as important now. From now on, we enter the world of sonen.” In other words, I believe he thought that “the fact that I can no longer raise my hand means that Johrei for which we raise our hands is not as important now. Rather, the time has come when, from here on, our thoughts and feelings are more important.”
For the longest time, we ignored Meishu-sama’s thoughts and feelings, his “Johrei is not as important now. From here on, we enter the world of sonen.” Of course, there is also the fact that we simply didn’t know this. From the time we became members, we were not taught this for the most part by our senior ministers. However, now that we have been made to know owing to Kyoshu-sama that Meishu-sama left this for us, what will we do about it? I believe that each one of us is being asked that question now.
Work in concert with Christianity; become extremely close to Christianity; again, this matter about Johrei. In regard to these matters, there certainly will be all kinds of reactions to this from members.
Reactions such as, “You say work in concert with Christianity, but there’s this over here, too. Hasn’t it been like this until now?” Or “You say Johrei is not as important. What was our faith up until now?” “You say Johrei for three minutes, but there’s this kind of case and that kind of case.” There is no end to this.
When directly faced with this kind of situation, what would we do? Would you agree with them and say, “You have a point,” or would you be troubled by it? Putting aside what our reaction may be, we have to ask ourselves what our own thoughts and feelings are on this. We have to ask ourselves where we stand.
At this time, Church of Messiah has resurrected. For a long time, we used the name World Church of Salvation (Sekai Kyusei Kyo) that Meishu-sama went as far as saying was “Eastern in nature and uninteresting.” Regarding this fact, there may be people who think like this: “Wait. Even during World Church of Salvation, weren’t there times we responded to God’s will?” Or “During the time of World Church of Salvation, there were miracles and blessings.” That is why “that period, too, was not completely bad and we should acknowledge it.”
However, it is Meishu-sama who can say these kinds of matters to us. It is not up to us to condescendingly say. In our position, I believe the kinds of thoughts or feelings we should have are “We have done an unforgiveable thing by changing the name of the church that Meishu-sama had named,” “May we change the name to the one that Meishu-sama was wishing for as soon as possible?” or “We are very sorry, Meishu-sama.” When we sincerely repent in this way, then maybe Meishu-sama will say to us, “No, the path up until now was not a waste.” But in our position, it is not for us to say.
In regard to Johrei, too, Meishu-sama said that “Johrei is not as important now, from here on we enter the world of sonen. Above all is sonen. Pray in your heart.” And he left us the one and only unique example. It is an example, a model, where only with prayer the ailment was cured.
Rather than understanding this “one and only unique example” simply as meaning an example of a “tangible blessing,” we must ask ourselves what the true meaning of Johrei is. Johrei is God using our thoughts and feelings to advance His divine work. That is how to understand it. I believe it is better to understand “one and only unique example” in this way.
Regarding Johrei, there are various opinions from members of course, and it is very important for us to make an effort to understand their feelings. But should we go on forever simply agreeing and saying to them, “Yes, yes, I know, I understand,” for the longest time, I think it would become difficult for them to feel Meishu-sama’s true will.
Undoubtedly, I believe how we interact with members is on a case-by-case basis. But I think we need to interact with members with the following thoughts: “Even though Meishu-sama left this matter to us over 60 years ago, I ignored it for the longest time,” or “I rebelled against Meishu-sama all the way up until today.” Are we truly sorry to Meishu-sama? I believe this is the most important point.
Should we have thoughts within us like, “Do I really have matters within me that I should strongly repent to Meishu-sama?” or only the sense of “from here on, there will be new changes” or “it’s new start,” it would be hard to convey to members matters such as what is being put out about Johrei or working in concert with Christianity.
In that sense, all of the missionary area chiefs here, each one of your thoughts and feelings, I believe, will become very important. I think it would be good if we have within us, within all of you, this feeling of true contriteness to Meishu-sama.
On the other hand, Meishu-sama’s words on “work in concert with Christianity” or on Johrei – how should we regard these? Actually, there are various ways, aren’t there?
“From now on we enter the world of sonen. Pray in your heart” could be interpreted as “if you pray in your heart, your illness will be cured.” For “work in concert with Christianity,” “how” to work in concert actually may be divided in interpretation.
I believe there lies the reason. As President Narii says, that is why we regard Kyoshu-sama’s messages as the sole, absolute and irreplaceable foundation in order to receive Meishu-sama’s truth.
At first glance, this phrasing feels strong. But as we find ourselves without Meishu-sama living on this earth at this moment, let’s say that Kyoshu-sama is not the foundation that receives Meishu-sama’s will. What would be the other option? What would it be? There is an executives-centered church, an “executives absolutism.” If Kyoshu-sama is not the foundation, then it would mean the executives are the foundation.
If we became an executives-centered church, what would happen? How was it before? It would be a numbers-centered administration. This would be the basis. An executives-centered church means an organization-centered church. The organization becomes important. If so, it becomes necessary for them to think about its relationship with society, which ends up becoming the focus.
Since faith is something directed toward God, even though it is originally supposed to transcend such worldly things, when there is an executives-centered organization, operations and numbers end up becoming the conceptual basis, and they end up going forward in the direction of fitting into and catering to society.
Even when we interpret words like “God,” “Meishu-sama,” “Johrei,” “love,” it can’t help but become an interpretation based on that kind of thinking. From there, didn’t we come all this way saying to members things like, “God is like this,” “Divine work means this,” “Johrei is this,” “If you accumulate virtue, this will happen.”
So for all of you to regard Kyoshu-sama as the sole, absolute and irreplaceable foundation means that you are trying to separate from the path of the executives-centered structure in place until now, that is, the human-centered structure. You have now come to the realization that in the original meaning of faith, there is something more important than the things we can see like numbers and administration, society and the world around us; and you want to walk that path more than anything else. Isn’t this the expression of your determination? That is how I perceive it.
Speaking of numbers, even though Kyoshu-sama has given all kinds of guidance up until now, executives have said, “No, there is reality.” Or “We have to think about operations.” There’s the fact that Kyoshu-sama’s will was not conveyed straightforwardly to the members for the longest time. They said such things like, “Kyoshu-sama says that, but the reality is this.” “Churches and places of active missionary work are like this.” “This is really that.”
As such, Meishu-sama’s will that ran through and was conveyed by Kyoshu-sama was changed by the executives. The fact that executives can even change it means that the will of the executives is more central than the will of Kyoshu-sama. It would mean that the executives are above Kyoshu-sama.
There is the issue of this executives-centered numbers for operation. On the other hand, we declare the salvation of humanity. Salvation for all of humanity. To be aiming for the salvation of “all of humanity,” whether it be a service or Profession Ceremony, we are aiming for seven billion people. There is no mistake about this, is there? We are not aiming for the salvation of humanity as an empty dream. We are in reality, concretely aiming for that.
That is to say, as a general statement, the number of our goal is seven billion. Have we made it to seven billion? We haven’t, have we? To agree with the general statement and to be against the particulars just does not make sense. Let’s assume that the particulars are each church’s number of attendees at grand services or their number of new members. There is no way that we would oppose particulars where the greater the number, the better. If we do oppose it, that would make the general statement of the “salvation of humanity” a lie.
So “numbers” until now meant that if you follow this and that guideline, your numbers should increase. If you use such and such regarding ancestors or accumulating virtue, you will see the result. It was like this. But I’m saying that we should end that way of chasing after numbers from now on.
But, what if now, should this be an organizational structure that truly conveys straightforwardly to the members Kyoshu-sama’s will, that is, Meishu-sama’s will, it is only natural that we would want to convey this will to as many people as possible.
However, it does not mean that when you do not reach your goal numbers, a superior should say to their juniors, “You better reach your numbers.” I believe it is wrong to end up pressuring that way, making the fact that you couldn’t reach your goal a negative matter.
Rather than that way, if all of you can truly, each time, give it your all and think, “All right, I’m going to do such and such to as many people as possible,” then even if you do not reach your goal, you can think, “Next time, I’ll try harder!” or “I will definitely exceed last time.” It would be good to foster that kind of positive, cheerful and lively atmosphere within the church. That kind of atmosphere, no less, must be made by you, the missionary area chiefs who are here, and your initiative.
After all, we became staff ministers because we had the wish to convey Kyoshu-sama’s will, that is, God and Meishu-sama’s will, to as many people as possible.
Also, we have youth activities.
When we say youth activities up until now, I think we had a very vague idea about it like saying adults do this, but youth do that. If in the end they pray, Johrei and do service (related to the church), then youth development has generally been completed. I think our understanding was something like that. But now, the path that both adults and children are aiming for is one.
That is for all of us to awaken to God’s eternal life and become one with it – that is the only thing, the only thing that we are aiming for.
Since it is clear where we must guide them to, rather than making the youth who haven’t stepped onto the path of faith full-scale go through various forms of some sort of disciplinary training or making them do something they don’t want to do at these youth activities, I think it’s better to have them do something that will make them think, “World Church of Messiah youth activities are fun” or “meeting with my church friends is fun.”
Although I think it is good to do fun activities, they may not feel a sense of accomplishment or a sense of fulfillment with only that. So I think it would be good to collaborate with everyone and do such things like volunteer service activities (outside the church). It is important to serve for the good of the world and for the good of the people.
However, our ultimate goal is not to serve for the good of the world or for the good of people. Until now, that was our goal. Youth activities were done to make those kinds of people. We did such things with the thought of following Meishu-sama whose image we created of serving for the good of people. But ultimately, we must become people who serve God, just as Meishu-sama did. So our purpose is to foster those kind of youth.
And what I believe to be important above all, in any case, is putting the name Messiah out there, and should we put out the name “World Church of Messiah” in doing our youth activities, regardless of what we do, I am certain that it will go forward in a good direction.
I would like to return to the subject of Kyoshu-sama being the sole, absolute and irreplaceable foundation for a little bit. The first point is that, as I had just spoken about, to be Kyoshu-sama-centered means that you are not executives-centered. Another point is that for Kyoshu-sama to be the sole, absolute and irreplaceable foundation, I believe, is not referring only to the hierarchical relationships we know of in this world. It does not simply mean that you should do as your superior says. I believe what it all comes down to is that God’s salvation is sole, absolute and irreplaceable.
What if Kyoshu-sama were to say now, “In front of God, let us offer everything in our minds and hearts.” At that moment, you may truly think, “Ah yes, I will offer everything,” and surrender everything, including what you are feeling in your heart. Or should you think, “Kyoshu-sama is saying this, but Meishu-sama’s teachings say something else. There’s another interpretation,” this would be choosing another way to turn to God convenient for yourself, which would not be considered salvation. This way would mean that God will not be able to welcome all. And God wants to welcome all into His heaven.
If one should turn to God with those lukewarm thoughts and feelings, salvation will be lukewarm. When it comes to speaking about salvation to the members, the result will also be lukewarm, and in the end, the salvation of the members becomes as such, too.
In that sense, I understand that for us to accept Kyoshu-sama as the sole, absolute and irreplaceable foundation in receiving Meishu-sama’s will leads to the completion of salvation in the truest sense.
Yesterday, World Church of Messiah was born. But as President Nakadomari said just now, we have no idea what will happen from here on.
However, Meishu-sama says, “God’s arrow has already left the bowstring.” It has already set out. God’s salvation has already set out. Essentially, from the time when Meishu-sama put out the name “Messiah,” it had already started. And now, World Church of Messiah has resurrected, and no one can stop God from appearing. It is not something that humans can control with their own power.
So after this, all kinds of things will happen. Meishu-sama says, “startling situations will develop,” that a “drama of world reformation” will begin. He says that the magnitude of it is simply unimaginable by humans and that from now on unimaginable things will happen one after another at a speed that far exceeds human intelligence.
We are to serve for dear life in this divine work God is advancing that defies imagination. This is for the salvation of humanity, and to simply be able to serve is an honor.
With those kinds of thoughts, I, together with all of you, would like to single-mindedly, earnestly and humbly face God’s will and go forward.
Thank you very much.
20200205_National Missionary Area Chiefs Meeting_Masaaki-sama_ENG
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