Approximately 70,000 followers, including many from overseas, returned to Jiba to celebrate the 214th birthday of the everliving Oyasama, “our beloved Parent,” on April 18.
The Oyasama Birth Celebration Service started shortly after 10:00 a.m., when the Shinbashira arrived in the Main Sanctuary after paying respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall. He first ascended the dais to deliver the Service prayer to God on behalf of all followers. He stated: “This auspicious day today marks the joyful occasion when Oyasama, having the causality of the soul of the mother in human creation, was born into this world on this very day of this month in 1798. Therefore, we Service performers will now conduct the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service, uniting our minds in joy as we perform the Kagura and the Teodori.”
The prayer was followed by the joyous performance of the Kagura Service, after which the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to serve a meal to Oyasama. In the meantime, the Dance with Hand Movements was joyously performed in the Main Sanctuary. Yearning for the Parent of the Divine Model, followers joined together in singing the Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Service, in unity of mind while pledging to devote themselves to single-hearted salvation.
Following the conclusion of the Dance with Hand Movements, Honbu-in Narahiko Nakata delivered a sermon. He began by quoting a part of God’s first words spoken through Oyasama’s mouth, “I have descended here to save all humankind.” He noted that this phrase “refers to spiritual salvation or the transformation of the mind that is far from the Joyous Life into the mind of the Joyous Life.” He then spoke about two important components of the Joyous Life, namely “to have the mind that enables one to appreciate the preciousness of God’s blessings” and “to convey the preciousness to other people.”
“In the Ofudesaki,” he said, “Oyasama first referred to God the Parent as ‘Kami’ (God), next as ‘Tsukihi’ (Moon-Sun), and finally as ‘Oya’ (Parent) in order to explain what God’s blessings are like.” He then explained how three terms signify God’s “workings,” “blessings of fire, water, and wind,” and “parental heart,” respectively. After noting that the Kanrodai Service embodies God’s parental heart, he stressed, “Through attending the Service, we need to take God’s blessings to heart.”
As for another essential element of the Joyous Life, he said, “The everliving Oyasama always pays close attention to our efforts to let people know the precious workings of God through sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and helping others be saved.” He then shared a story where he strongly felt that he was accompanied by Oyasama while doing missionary work.
Lastly, referring to the upcoming 130th Anniversary of Oyasama, he stated: “I believe an anniversary is an occasion when the everliving Oyasama looks forward to seeing many people return to Jiba with the mind that enables them to live the Joyous Life. Let us take this opportunity to work in accord with Oyasama’s intention.”
Following the sermon, the Service performers assembled in the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where the Shinbashira read a prayer to Oyasama to extend words of celebration. After expressing appreciation for Her parental love in working for the salvation of one and all, he said, “We will seek to deepen our joy at being able to serve as Your instruments in the cause of single-hearted salvation, maintain spiritedness and single-heartedness with God in anysituation, exert our true sincerity to save others, and spiritually mature into Yoboku that measure up to the Parent’s intention.”
The Joyous Chorus then took place in the Inner Courtyard, where thousands of followers joined together in singing a number of songs, accompanied by an orchestra comprising musicians from Tenri High School and other Tenrikyo schools as well as Tenrikyo Institute of Music. The songs included “O-uta 12: Path of the Divine Model” and “Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song.”