On March 26, the Monthly Service was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira first expressed gratitude for God’s deep love and blessings that provide people with guidance on their journey of spiritual growth toward the Joyous Life. He then said: “Having perceived our own illness and troubles in our life, as well as problems facing the world, as Your stern admonition for our uses of mind and actions that go against Your intention, we Service performers as well as church head ministers and other Yoboku are determined to bring ourselves into accord with Your intention by acquiring deep understanding of the Truth of Origin, which is at the root of building the world of joyousness, and spiritedly moving forward in accord with the Divine Model.”
The prayer was followed by the joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements, after which Honbu-in Sumiharu Ueda delivered the sermon. He began by touching on God the Parent’s intention in human creation while referring to the “Story of the Divine Record” and the “Truth of Origin.” He stated: “The story of the Truth of Origin is said to be the story of the truth for salvation. It is the story that enables us to feel that we are kept alive by God’s enormous blessings, to understand the reason for human creation, and to learn the path to salvation and the Joyous Life.”
Furthermore, as examples of what helps one closely feel God’s blessings, Honbu-in Ueda spoke about the Amulet and two kinds of sacred gifts—the sacred gift for general circumstances and that for the Grant of Safe Childbirth.
With regard to the sacred gifts, he referred to Oyasama’s anecdotes where She gave the sacred powder of roasted grain or sacred sugar candy to early followers. Then quoting a Divine Direction delivered on April 3, 1904, that says, “It is not the sacred rice itself but the truth of the mind that is effective,” he explained how rinsed rice came to be granted as the sacred gift. He then stressed, “This Divine Direction clarifies that how those of us who receive the sacred rice settle or transform our mind will determine whether or not we can receive God’s workings.”
Concerning the sacred gift for the Grant of Safe Childbirth, he explained how it opened the path to all miracles of salvation. After quoting an Ofudesaki verse, “The conception of a baby is by Tsukihi. Giving birth to it, also, is by the work of Tsukihi” (VI:131), he noted: “Oyasama demonstrated many miracles of God’s protection regarding childbirth. . . . The Grant is bestowed as proof that human beings are given birth through God the Parent’s providence.”
He went on to talk about the Amulet, which is a piece of red cloth that was part of the clothing worn by Oyasama. Referring to passages from the Scriptures and Anecdotes of Oyasama, he highlighted the importance of wearing the Amulet next to one’s body at all times. “We are taught that the body is a thing borrowed, the mind alone is ours,” he said, adding, “It is important for each of us to take Oyasama’s teachings to heart and put them into practice in our everyday life with faith in the teaching “To protect the mind is to protect the body.”
Honbu-in Ueda then stressed: “The sacred gifts and the Amulet are given to us out of God’s profound parental love to save us and help us live the Joyous Life. Keeping that in mind, let us appreciate the joy that we can feel at God’s blessings and convey the teachings to others so that they will be able to share the joy as well.”
At the end of his sermon, Honbu-in Ueda mentioned that this year marked the 80th year since Tenrikyo Hinokishin Day and Nioigake Day were first observed. “What we do and what frame of mind we have each day will build the foundation for those special days. Let us continue to make steady efforts in conducting our daily activities and take a firm step to embark on the period of the ‘three years, one thousand days’ leading up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama.”
Spring Memorial Service
The Spring Memorial Service was conducted on March 27. At the Main Sanctuary, the Shinbashira read the prayer, which was followed by the dance to the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and the Twelve Songs.
After the service performance, the Shinbashira proceeded to the Memorial Hall and read a prayer honoring the virtues and sincerity of predecessors who were devoted to the path. In the prayer, he made a pledge on behalf of all followers to make progress in spiritual growth and contribute to the further growth of the path.