On January 26, the Spring Grand Service commemorating the day when Oyasama withdrew from physical life on the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, was conducted in the Main Sanctuary of Church Headquarters with the Shinbashira, Zenji Nakayama, presiding as chief officiant. The Sanctuary precincts were filled with approximately 73,000 followers—including 223 people from 13 overseas countries and regions—who pledged to respond to Oyasama’s parental heart focused on single-hearted salvation and take steady steps in the second year of the “three years, one thousand days” season leading up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama.
At the appointed time, the Shinbashira, accompanied by other Service performers, proceeded to the Main Sanctuary after having paid respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira read: “Now into the second year of the ‘three years, one thousand days’ pre-anniversary period, all of us Yoboku including church head ministers are further bracing ourselves while examining how we worked last year. We are also determined to bring ourselves into full accord with Your heart that desires to save the whole world—the heart demonstrated in Oyasama’s Divine Model—and dedicate our full measure of sincerity to saving others so that we can repay our indebtedness.”
Following the prayer, the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were joyfully performed. The followers sang the Mikagura-uta, the songs for the Service, with their minds united as one.
The Shinbashira then took the podium to deliver the sermon. Referring to the situation at the Residence around the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, he explained that Oyasama had been repeatedly urging the implementation of the Service because the Service is the fundamental component for the path of single-hearted salvation. He siad, “It was only after the early followers performed the Service that She withdrew from physical life and began to guide them by virtue of the truth of Her eternal life.”
The Shinbashira also stressed that the truth of the Sazuke that we receive today is the same as the truth that early followers received; God the Parent’s providence has not changed. He continued, “If there seems to be any difference in the blessings that are shown to us today, it must be due to whether we are sincere or not.”
After saying, “We will be observing the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama in exactly two years from today,” the Shinbashira mentioned that the Oyasama 130th Anniversary Yoboku Gatherings will be held from March through June this year so as to promote our pre-anniversary activities and build momentum for salvation ever further. He then told the congregation: “The Yoboku Gatherings are one among many activities we are carrying out during the lead-up to the 130th Anniversary, and the gatherings will help enhance other activities to follow. I would like you to find some ways to make this event meaningful for future activities as well.”
After once gain pointing out Oyasama’s true intention in withdrawing from physical life, thereby shortening Her term of life by twenty-five years, the Shinbashira concluded his sermon by saying, “In order to respond to this profound parental love of Oyasama, let us pledge together that we will give our utmost in carrying out the tasks of the path.”
Between January 25 and 27, 1,012 people attended the Besseki lectures, with 175 people attending for the first time.