Sunday Service, January 7, 2018

Published January 10, 2018 by

Sunday’s Dharma Message was delivered by our Resident Minister, Rev. Bert Sumikawa.

Rev. Sumikawa’s Dharma Message included the story of a man who, upon finding a bag of clay balls, proceeds to throw them into the ocean, not realizing, at first, that each contained a brilliant gem. Rev. Sumikawa compared this to how we tend to treat people.

It’s like that with people too. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling.

And so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone who is more beautiful or stylish or well-known or wealthy.

But we have not taken the time to find the treasure that is hidden inside that person. We seem to wish for things seemingly better.

Instead, let us accept that this is the reality of our life as human beings. Let’s accept it, embrace it, and learn from it as well.

Because in wishing for it to fast-forward, go away, or pass us by, we lose the whole meaning of what it is to live.

There is a big difference between existing and living. A rock exists. But we live! Or we can exist. According to your choosing.

The only thing that makes our life valuable is the fact that it is finite. That we don’t live forever. That life does come to an end, and we don’t necessarily know when. That’s why every moment is important. Every moment is precious. Even the difficult ones. Even the suffering ones. They are all important because they shape who we are and what will become.

There is a treasure in each and everyone one of us, if we take the time to know that person. And, through the wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha, we will see that person as who that person truly is. As the clay slowly begins to peel away, the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

Rev. Sumikawa then reflected on his ministry at Moiliili Hongwanji.

Finally, as I come close to the close of my ministry here at Moiliili Hongwanji, I want you all to know what a tremendous opportunity you have all graciously afforded me to serve here as minister for the past four years. This has been a once in a lifetime experience. One that I will always treasure in my heart.

You have been so helpful to me, affording me the opportunity to grow not only professionally but as a person as well.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I dispute that! I have learned what a gracious people all of you are.

I am a very lucky person. I don’t know why I have been given this opportunity to retire twice in my lifetime. And from two vastly different professions: one I work with the mouth, the other I work in the mouth.

But it was only because of you that the days here have become memorable, and I thank you for that.

But time moves on, and time never stops. One phase of Moiliili Hongwanji ends, and another begins. It is the endless scroll of time. It is the lifecycle of the temple.

In a few months, Rev. Umitami and his family will move into the parsonage, and a new era will begin. Rev. Umitami is a very accomplished and valuable minister, and will pass on the Dharma to you like no other.

It will be exciting in more ways than one, as, once again, children will walk these halls and campus, to the delight of all of you, entertaining you with all the exuberance and gaiety of youth.

There will also be a Mrs. Umitami, a welcome sight for all, harkening back to the days of yore … it has been a while.

With each new day, you will bond with them and, together, you will continue to grow this vibrant sangha.

Rev. Sumikawa led us in the words of Thanksgiving to the tune of Edelweiss.

One of the flower arrangements.

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