Tenrikyo Church Headquarters conducted the August Monthly Service on the 26th at the Main Sanctuary with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira expressed his deep gratitude for God the Parent’s unlimited blessings and warm parental love through which God continues to guide us along the path of spiritual growth. He then said: “It is less than half a year away from the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama. In order to accomplish our resolutions, we Service performers as well as church head ministers and other Yoboku are resolved to exert our utmost efforts to walk the path of salvation while working to bring as many people as possible to Jiba of Origin and dedicating our full measure of sincerity in guiding and nurturing the successors of the path.”
The prayer was followed by the joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with the Hand Movements.
Although it was already autumn according to the traditional Japanese calendar, the weather remained hot in the Home of the Parent with the temperature on the Service day reaching as high as 31°C (87.8ºF). As the midsummer-like sunshine beat down on the Sanctuary precincts, the worshipers joined together in spiritedly singing the Songs for the Service in unity of mind.
Following the performance of the Service, Honbu-in Umeo Izutsu took the podium to deliver the sermon. He started off by saying: “The purpose of conducting the pre-anniversary activities is to set aside a period of time for walking the path to reach a new level of spiritual growth that may bring joy to Oyasama. In order to achieve this, it is indispensable to make firm resolutions.” He stated, “Let us devote ourselves to salvation work in this decisive season so that we can accomplish our resolutions and complete our pre-anniveresary activities.”
He then referred to the Besseki pilgrimages organized by individual, as well as affiliation-based groups of, directly supervised churches in this concluding year of the pre-anniversary activities leading up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama. He recounted a story of a branch church head minister who had sincerely engaged in missionary work until the morning of his grand church’s pilgrimage to Jiba. In the end, he was blessed with a person who attended the Besseki lecture for the first time. Honbu-in Izutsu said: “I think Oyasama responded to the head minister’s earnest desire to save others at any cost. Without falling behind in terms of what we ought to do in this season, let us make decisive efforts to be blessed with more people attending the Besseki lectures than ever before.”
Quoting a passage from Instruction Three that says, “[L]et us continue guiding and nurturing them until they join us in working for the salvation of others,” Honbu-in Izutsu encouraged the congregation to guide and nurture people to complete the series of nine Besseki lectures and receive the truth of the Sazuke. “Bringing people to attend their first Besseki lecture is just the first step of salvation work,” he said. “Guiding them to attend their second one is the important task of salvation work that we cannot neglect.”
After mentioning that September is the month that has been designated for special efforts focused on sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and that “Tenrikyo Nioigake Day” would be observed between September 28 to 30, he spoke of the importance of spreading the teachings. He shared the story of a person who was introduced to the Tenrikyo teachings through the guidance of a Yoboku and eventually entered a missionary house. Honbu-in Izutsu stated, “Even a word sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings may have the great power that can change a person’s future. . . . Oyasama will surely be pleased to see us confidently engage in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and carry out salvation work without hesitation.” He went on to say, “If we believe deeply in God’s blessings and engage in salvation work while leaning completely on God’s parental love, we will be shown the blessings of salvation that are appropriate for the concluding year of the pre-anniversary season. Oyasama always supports us in any circumstances and continues to guide us by virtue of Her eternal life.”
Honbu-in Izutsu concluded his sermon by encouraging the congregation, saying: “Let all of us followers carry out salvation activities in a decisive manner so that on the day of the anniversary we can bring joy to Oyasama, who may tell us, ‘You have done a good job, and I am glad to see that you have made such progress in your spiritual growth.’ Let us make a concerted effort to walk the path of making spiritual growth.”