February 20, 2024

Sunday Service on February 18, 2024

Triangle Family Church Sunday Service on February 18, 2024

Musical Offering

Sermon - Gratitude changes our perspective and invites heavenly fortune.

Gratitude changes our perspective and invites heavenly fortune. The video script discusses the importance of gratitude in our lives, drawing inspiration from a Japanese folk tale and teachings from Buddha. It emphasizes the power of gratitude to transform our mindset and bring blessings.

Key Insights

  • Gratitude is an essential aspect of faith and can transform how we perceive the world. It is important to cultivate a grateful heart for all aspects of our lives, even in challenging situations.
  • The practice of gratitude can rewire our brains and bring positive changes to our overall well-being. It has the power to turn ordinary moments into blessings and joy.
  • The story of the "Straw Millionaire" teaches us the importance of faith, gratitude, and generosity. By staying committed to these values, we can attract heavenly fortune and abundance into our lives.
  • The concept of "arigato" in Japanese, meaning "thank you," reminds us of the miraculous nature of being born as a human being. It is a reminder to appreciate the preciousness of life and the world around us.
  • True Parents' birthday and anniversary of foundation day are significant events that call for gratitude and appreciation. The second generation can be thankful for their existence and the sacrifices made by True Parents for humankind.
  • Keeping a grateful heart towards True Parents and showing generosity and kindness to others can bring heavenly fortune and blessings into our lives. By living with gratitude, we can experience a fulfilling and abundant life.

Japanese translation

Good morning, everyone. I got a request to give a sermon last Monday. I didn't have much time to prepare. I decided to talk about a moral lesson from a Japanese folk tale called Straw Millionaire (わらしべ長者), which I had planned for Sunday school.

The moral lesson is that gratitude changes how we see the world and brings us heavenly fortune.

First, I want to share True Parents’ Words and a Bible verse on gratitude.

The reality of both the second generation and the first generation deeply concerns me as I see a lack of the most basic element of faith -- a heart of gratitude toward everything. Just as is mentioned in the Bible and the Divine Principle, a common person of faith first offers gratitude to Heaven. However, we have unconsciously strayed into a self-centered life of faith. (2013.07.05, Hawaii)

We must always start each day with a grateful heart. We are gradually aging. All people are very interested in health, but the most important thing about health is always living with a positive, happy, grateful heart. When we open our eyes in the morning, we should smile and shout out, "Today I am beginning a happy day!" It is said that if we do that, all diseases fall away, and endorphins are produced. Therefore, we become healthier and more efficient in our work. (2006.03.22, Japan, Tokyo)

If you can throw away your greed, envy, and jealousy, and live in gratitude, then every day would be the kingdom of heaven. (2016.07.07, Cheon Jeong Gung)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Some of the main points of the words are these.

A grateful heart for everything is the essential part of faith.

If we are grateful for our lives, then every day would be a kingdom of heaven.

It is God's will that we are thankful in every situation.

Straw Millionaire (わらしべ長者) is a Japanese folk tale about a poor young man who was grateful for little things and became wealthy.

The story goes as follows.

The poor young man asked Buddha for help to get out of poverty. Buddha said he should go west with the first thing he picks up from the ground. He tripped as he left the temple and took a piece of straw. As he traveled, he helped people and his item changed from a piece of straw to oranges, silks, horse, and finally rice fields and house.

Let us watch a short video of the story. I hope the young audience will enjoy it.

What led the young poor man to his wealth? What lessons can we learn from this story? I have 3 ideas in mind.

  • Faith in Buddha
  • Gratitude
  • Generous and helpful to others

The first thing he picked up from the ground was a piece of straw. We think it is small, insignificant and of no value.

However, he kept faith in Buddha, who told him that the first thing would bring fortune.

He might have grumbled about how a piece of straw would help him and quit. But he stayed loyal to the word from Buddha and proceeded with a piece of straw and thankfulness.

According to Oxford Languages, Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

We can easily feel gratitude when things go our way, or our desires are met.

It is hard to feel gratitude in all situations, especially unfavorable ones.

Is it possible to be thankful even when things are not going well or when we don't get what we want?

Someone says, "Gratitude is a strong human emotion and can change how we see the world."

One proverb says, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center of UCLA states that gratitude changes neural structures in the brain. It is possible to rewire our brains to feel gratitude in all situations.

One secret to feel gratitude in all situations can be found in the word “Arigato”.

As you know, “Arigato” is thank you in Japanese.

Arigato originated from Arigatai, which means a miraculous occurrence.

Buddha teaches that being born as a human being is a miracle. I would like to share a story Budda told to his disciple to explain how being born as a human being is a miracle. 

The story is called “Blind Turtle and Floating Tree”.

It goes as follows.

There is a blind turtle at the bottom of a great ocean. Once every hundred years the turtle rises to the surface to catch its breath.

There is a tree that floats in the ocean, and it has a hole in its center.  Would this turtle, which rises to the surface once in a hundred years, ever stick its head through the hole in the floating tree?  Budda’s disciple answered, "This is very unlikely and unimaginable”. Buddha said, "Everyone would think that it is impossible. But it is not impossible at all. Being born as a human being is even harder than this example. So being born as a human being is very valuable and a miracle.

Our planet earth is also a miracle.

Do you know what “Habitable Zone” means? It is a term in astronomy.

The habitable zone (also known as the “Goldilocks zone”) is the region around a star where conditions are suitable for liquid water to exist on a planet’s surface.

Of the 1,780 confirmed planets beyond our solar system, as many as 16 are in their star’s habitable zone, where conditions are neither too hot nor too cold to support life. Size also matters: A planet that’s too small can’t maintain an atmosphere; one that’s too large will have a crushing atmosphere.

The earth was placed in the Habitable Zone.

Life would not have emerged if earth was a little nearer to the sun or farther from the sun.

Life would not have emerged if earth was a little larger or smaller.

The story “Straw Millionaire” also shows how being generous and helpful to others is important to bring us heavenly fortune.

The story makes me think of a term Ichigo ichie. The meaning is once-in-a-lifetime encounter.

It's off the subject, but the subtitle of the movie “Forrest Gump” in Japan is Ichigo ichie.

The origin of "ichigo ichie" is a Japanese tea ceremony. It means that in a tea ceremony, the host and the guest should be aware that the event is a unique encounter that will never happen again. Both parties are encouraged to be sincere to each other, value the moment and opportunity, and offer the best service.

We are commemorating True Parents’ Birthday and the anniversary of “Foundation Day”. Encounter with True Parents is the first-time event in human history and will never happen again. This is a time for us to appreciate True Parents and each other blessed by True Parents.

First generation members experienced life-changing moments with True Parents. It is easier for them to be thankful to True Parents. I understand that some second generation members do not understand who True Parents are. That is OK. Even first generation members are still discovering who True Parents truly are.

There is one thing that the second generation can be thankful to True Parents for.

What is it? Second generation, you would not be born without True Parents. True Parents are like the ancestors of the second generation and following generations.

If we keep gratitude to True Parents and be generous and helpful to others, heavenly fortune will surely come to us.

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