New Year’s Day Service 2013

On January 1, the New Year’s Day Service marking the beginning of the 176th year of Tenrikyo was conducted in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. This year also marks the first year of the “three years, one thousand days” pre-anniversary period leading up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama. Followers began gathering well before dawn to attend the first Service of the year in order to express their resolve to make further strides on the path of single-hearted salvation.

Welcoming In the New Year

On New Year’s Eve, winter constellations glittered in the night sky as the crisp air enveloped the Sanctuary precincts. People dressed in winter clothes walked across the gravel as they headed to the Main Sanctuary. The South Worship Hall was almost filled with worshipers who intended to welcome in the New Year at Jiba. People quietly sitting in front of the partition bar all clapped their hands in prayer as soon as the hands on the clock signaled it was midnight.

Michio Yoshimi is a Yoboku who has welcomed the New Year in the Main Sanctuary for about 50 years. He said: “I come to Church Headquarters every year to give my thanks for the previous year and welcome in the New Year. Since this year is the start of the ‘three years, one thousand days’ lead-up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama, I am resolved to make an extra push in my efforts to help save others.”

Worshipers in the South Worship Hall then began heading to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to offer their New Year’s greetings to the everliving Oyasama.

Making a Fresh Start at the First Service of the Year

The low temperature on New Year’s Day was -1ºC (30.2ºF). Amid the pre-dawn chill, the precinct lanterns were lit at 4:45 a.m. and their warm glow welcomed arriving worshipers.

Beginning at 5:00 a.m., the Shinbashira and other Service performers went to pay their respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall before proceeding to the Main Sanctuary while the elegant sounds of gagaku music played.

In the Service prayer, after expressing his appreciation for having welcomed in the 176th year of Tenrikyo the Shinbashira also expressed gratitude for God’s immense parental love shown over the previous year, saying, “We feel unworthy and wholeheartedly thank You for Your compassion that led us splendidly last year, when all of us in the entire congregation, bearing the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama in mind, reexamined our footing, worked to spiritually mature so as to bring joy to Oyasama, and strove, despite our shortcomings, to fulfill the tasks entrusted to us in this seasonable time.”

The Shinbashira continued: “Having welcomed in the first year of the ‘three years, one thousand days’ pre-anniversary period, we Yoboku will deepen our single-heartedness with God, heighten our awareness that this is the time to solely implement Oyasama’s Divine Model, exert our sincerity as we sprinkle the fragrance and engage in salvation work as Oyasama’s instruments, and spiritedly make efforts in unity of mind toward the world’s construction. . . . Please accept our resolutions, grant us even more of Your free and unlimited blessings, allow the path to spread further as the year progresses, and guide us toward a state in which everyone in the world brims with joyousness and spiritedness.”

This was followed by a joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements.

Dawn drew near and the temperature grew colder. Worshipers in the four Worship Halls sang the songs of the Service together.

Following the performance of the Service, the Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary. After offering his New Year’s greetings to Oyasama, he said: “Braced by a deeper sense of decisiveness at the beginning of the New Year, we resolve to have the Divine Model close at hand as we thoroughly work as Your instruments, widely convey the real truth of the universe to the world, and repeatedly make spirited single-hearted efforts toward the joyous construction in response to Your inexhaustible blessings during the ‘three years, one thousand days’ leading up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama.”

The sun peaked out from the eastern mountains as the Shinbashira finished his prayer.

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