The last monthly service of the year 2015 was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on December 26, with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. The Home of the Parent was unusually warm and was blessed with a calm, clear winter sky.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira mentioned that the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama would be observed in the New Year, and said, “We Service performers as well as church head ministers and other Yoboku will focus our minds ever more sharply and exert our utmost sincerity until the last minute in this important season.”
This was followed by a joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements. A great many followers gathered in the Sanctuary precincts to express their gratitude for God’s blessings they had received throughout the year. They joined together in singing the songs for the Service with their minds in unison.
After the Service, Honbu-in Hiroyoshi Shimamura took the podium to deliver his sermon. Noting that there was only one month remaining before the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama, he reflected upon the pre-anniversary activities that the followers had been undertaking over the “three years, one thousand days” period. He then said, “We would like to receive blessings that enable us to accomplish our resolution by any means. Let us make our utmost effort to grow spiritually as much as possible so that we can bring joy to Oyasama.”
Honbu-in Shimamura also referred to the significance of observing Oyasama’s anniversary. “In order to respond to Oyasama’s parental love, all of us Yoboku and followers are making a decisive effort to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and engage in salvation work by helping one another in unity of mind and so that we can show the fruit of such activities to the everliving Oyasama, and thereby bring Her joy. These are pre-anniversary activities that we are carrying out in the lead-up to the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama,” he emphasized.
Honbu-in Shimamura then mentioned that, in this pre-anniversary period, both directly supervised churches and other branch churches were entrusted with providing care and guidance to each Yoboku to ensure a thorough understanding of the spirit contained in Instruction Three. He also pointed out that each Yoboku pledged to help save others, starting with what they can, as part of their pre-anniversary activities.
After quoting from the Shinbashira’s sermon at the Spring Grand Service in 2015, Honbu-in Shimamura shared the story of a female follower who passes out 100 leaflets a month. Although she was initially not proactive in missionary and salvation work, she started distributing leaflets at the suggestion of her church head minister. As she continued that effort, she began to be able to reflect on her states of mind, he said, adding, “I was impressed by the level of spiritual growth she attained herself, not to mention her sincere effort in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings on people by handing out the leaflets.”
Honbu-in Shimamura concluded his sermon by encouraging the congregation, saying: “We have only one month left before the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama. Let us exert our utmost efforts to put finishing touches on our pre-anniversary activities in order to bring joy to the everliving Oyasama by showing the fruit of our efforts. . . . Let us also make every effort to conduct the kind of salvation work that only we can do until the last minute so that we can bring back as many people as possible to Jiba.”