On that day, high atmospheric pressure brought scorching heat to Japan. The Japan Meteorological Agency announced that the temperature reached 35°C (95°F) at 231 of the 927 observation sites throughout Japan. In the Home of the Parent, the high was above 35°C (95°F).
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira touched upon this year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba and said: “We pray that as many children as possible who are looking forward to the summer event in Jiba will return here and participate in a variety of attractions and activities including hinokishin, thereby enhancing their joy of being able to live by receiving Your providence. Please nurture these boys and girls so that they may grow straightforwardly and vibrantly into fine Yoboku. Also please guide us in ensuring that everything proceeds smoothly throughout the duration of the pilgrimage.”
The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then performed joyously.
Boys and Girls Hinokishin Corps members as well as pilgrimage groups wearing matching shirts stood out in the Main Sanctuary, heralding the start of the Children’s Pilgrimage. Followers sang the songs for the Service in unity of mind.
Following the Service performance, Honbu-in Harunobu Nakayama took the podium to deliver his sermon.
He started off by referring to the role of the Pilgrim Reception Department, which he heads. He stated: “There are appropriate ways of providing hospitality here in Jiba. We need to have repeated discussions and think about how we can bring joy and satisfaction to the pilgrims in a way that can only be experienced in Jiba. . . . Each time we return to Jiba, we show Oyasama, who is waiting for our return, how much progress we have made in our spiritual growth so that we can reassure Her. That is the best way to bring joy to Her.”
He then pointed out that adults should be able to nurture children, but they tend to fail to mature sufficiently to assume the responsibilities in the present state of society. Stressing the need to have a dependable guide for their thoughts and decisions, he emphasized the importance of getting rid of their bad habits and changing their temperaments, thereby nurturing the mind of simple openness, which will enable them to serve as Oyasama’s useful instruments.
Rev. Nakayama said, “There has been a social tendency that makes it hard for parents to convey their thoughts and ideas to their children in a society with diversified values.” He said that we should take a fresh look at the parent-child relationships in case there is such a tendency among Tenrikyo families. He then said, “No matter how complex family environments and situations might be, it is of prime importance that parents, instead of someone else, take full responsibility for raising their children with the father being strict and the mother being loving and caring.”
He went on to say: “It is the role of churches and church head ministers to convey messages delivered in any given season from Jiba to the children, give them advice based on the teachings when they are troubled, and provide them with care and guidance from a broad and long-term perspective. . . . Whatever is left unattended or overlooked can be covered by various Tenrikyo associations.”
He also touched upon the opening of the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba for the 177th year of Tenrikyo. Quoting the Shinbashira’s words—regarding the significance of nurturing children between the ages of 13 and 15—delivered at the Boys and Girls Association leaders’ first meeting of the year in 1997, he said, “In line with the Shinbashiraʼs words, if children can sow good seeds at their age by serving others and taking delight in bringing joy to others, they can be nurtured into Yoboku who can live up to the expectations of God and Oyasama when the time comes.”
Toward the end of his sermon, Rev. Nakayama stated that the former Shinbashira’s passing away for rebirth was a serious knot in the midst of the seasonable time. However, reminding the congregation of how the early followers managed to overcome their sadness after Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life, he said, “I believe if we do what we have to do in the time and place we are given with firm determination, we will be boosted by blessings appropriate for the season, thereby enabling us, our children, grandchildren, and those in generations ahead to continue making progress in spiritual growth.” He concluded his sermon by calling for further efforts to ensure that we can return to Jiba on the day of the anniversary with the fruits of our pre-anniversary activities.