The last Monthly Service of 2012 was conducted at the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on December 26, with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant.
In the Service prayer, after mentioning that Instruction Three was announced in October at the Autumn Grand Service, the Shinbashira went on to say, “Amid the increasing confusion in today’s societies, we recognize that now is precisely the time for all Yoboku to not only rise and widely sprinkle the fragrance of the intention of the Parent who is hastening for the salvation of all Her children but also reflect the truth of the teachings to make them self-apparent to the world and pour our full sincerity into salvation work with the Divine Model as our guide as we work toward the world’s reconstruction.” After expressing gratitude for the blessings granted over the past year, he also asked for God’s unchanging guidance in the upcoming year.
This was followed by a joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements.
Thick clouds blanketed the sky over the Home of the Parent on the Service day, a day on which the maximum temperature was lower than average. Freezing blasts of wind struck the many worshipers bound in winter clothes as they intently sang the songs for the Service.
Honbu-in Hiroaki Yamazawa then delivered the sermon. Rev. Yamazawa opened by saying that what struck him most strongly upon reading Instruction Three was its stress on the task of saving others.
After mentioning that Oyasama said: “I must save at least one person a day. Otherwise, I cannot let the day pass” (Anecdotes of Oyasama, no. 177, “At Least One Person”), he said that what Oyasama taught through Her 50-year Divine Model is the path of single-hearted salvation to save all people in the world. He thus stressed we are being asked to implement the Service and the Sazuke as steps toward single-hearted salvation.
Rev. Yamazawa explained that it is vital for us to melt into the Parent’s single-hearted intention to save others when performing the Service. Regarding the Sazuke, he called it “a treasure to be used to save others,” and urged that it be administered to people suffering from illness with sincerity and with the desire to have them be saved by all means.
After quoting from Instruction Three the sentence “Salvation work begins with paying attention to those around us,” Rev. Yamazawa asked everyone to take a moment to make note of all the people in their immediate circle and stressed the importance of routinely greeting everyone we come across and approaching others in a friendly manner. He went on to say that we ought to make wholehearted efforts to help those in trouble and devote ourselves to guiding those who are beset by anxieties until they change the orientation of their minds to the point where they will rise to join us in engaging in salvation work in addition to conveying to them how wonderful it is to trust in and lean on God the Parent and Oyasama.
Furthermore, Rev. Yamazawa pointed out that it was important to make efforts to implement the teachings during the pre-anniversary season, which calls for decisiveness, and that we cannot afford to neglect to “connect with the Parent.” Upon sharing his personal experiences, he said: “Sow seeds and buds will sprout. When buds sprout, sow more seeds. Such is the path that allows us to receive the blessings necessary to make strides toward spiritual growth.”
With 2013 marking the beginning of the three-year, one thousand-day decisive timeframe heading toward the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama, Rev. Yamazawa said: “We must change the ways we have been conducting ourselves, return to the basics, and start from the very beginning. What’s more, we need to make efforts as if our lives depended on it. Is this not the frame of mind and behavior that is being asked of us?. . . For our pre-anniversary activities to bear fruit, it is important that we resolve to achieve large-scale, tangible goals that will become sources of encouragement for one another.”
Rev. Yamazawa concluded his sermon by saying: “As we make efforts not to waver from accomplishing what we resolved, I believe we will gradually be shown situations that will allow us to understand God’s parental love on a deeper level, instances of people being saved, and signs the world will settle in peace. . . . Let us spiritedly engage in salvation work together.”