On January 1, the New Year’s Day Service marking the beginning of the 174th year of the Teaching was solemnly performed at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. In the pre-dawn hours, many people returned to the Home of the Parent despite the cold weather to attend the first Service of the year. They attended the Service in unity of mind while renewing the resolution to make further progress on the path of single-hearted salvation.
At 5:00 a.m., the Shinbashira, accompanied by other Service performers, left the Staff Quarters to pay respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall before proceeding to the Main Sanctuary, where the elegant sound of gagaku music filled the air.
After offering his New Year’s greetings to God the Parent, the Shinbashira expressed gratitude for the blessings God the Parent provided during the past year: “Though we may have fallen short, we worked hard to carry out the tasks of the season throughout the past year by inquiring into the truth of the teachings as well as keeping in our heart the Divine Model of Oyasama so as to measure up to Your intention. We are truly grateful that Your profound parental heart has guided us by providing us with so many blessings.” He continued: “We Service performers and other Yoboku are determined to settle the truth of heaven firmly in our mind so as to be able to show by example the preciousness of the teachings. We are also resolved to strive for the construction of the Joyous Life World by boosting our efforts to make progress in our spiritual growth.”
Toward the end of his prayer, he said, “We humbly ask You to continue to provide us with Your blessings so that the world will be reconstructed into the Joyous Life World, where all people are filled with overflowing, radiant joy.”
After the prayer, the first Service for the 174th year of the Teaching—which consisted of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements—was performed joyously. Following the Service, the Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to offer a prayer to the everliving Oyasama. After extending New Year’s greetings to Her, he pledged: “With a renewed mind, we vow to further cultivate the joy we experience as Your instruments while keeping our sights fixed on Your Divine Model. We are thoroughly determined to devote our full measure of sincerity to living up to Your intention that hastens the world salvation.”