Followers Express Gratitude for Past Year’s Blessings

The December Monthly Service was conducted in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on December 26, 2010, with the Shin­bashira presiding as chief officiant. On the Service day, a severe cold wave hit all parts of Japan, bringing strong winds and cold rain to the Home of the Parent, as well. Many followers assembled to attend the final Monthly Service of the year.

In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira first expressed gratitude for God the Parent’s blessings given throughout the past year. He then said, “Building on the steps we have taken during this year, we Service performers as well as church head ministers and other Yoboku are determined to strive even harder to attain further spiritual growth and advance the construction of the Joyous Life World by sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and engaging in salvation work.”

The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then performed joyously. Amid the increasingly cold weather and occasional light snowfall, the followers joined together in singing the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service.

Honbu-in Motoo Matsuda then took the podium to deliver the sermon. Recalling the history of Tenrikyo in association with the year-end, he first recounted the footsteps of the Honseki, Izo Iburi, who entered the faith after his wife, Osato, who had been ill in bed since her delivery, was saved by Oyasama. Referring to Izo Iburi, Honbu-in Matsu­da said: “Even on the New Year’s Eve, he would single-heartedly dedicate himself to sowing seeds of sincerity at the Residence. While always maintaining the mind of gratitude for the blessings he received and relying single-heartedly on the Parent, he inconspicuously dedicated himself solely to sowing seeds of sincerity.” Then he stated, “On this occasion when we are to reflect on our conduct during the outgoing year and solidify our resolve for the coming year, we would do well to reflect on the Honseki’s path, which could be seen as an essential exemplary model for all followers.”

He went on to say: “Now it is of utmost importance for us to bring about a joyous family togetherness based on single-heartedness with God and unity of minds—which constitute the essential attitude to be maintained by us followers of the path—and to extend such an atmosphere to those around us. Our continual efforts to do so will directly enhance the vertical mission, which is to say, the nurturing of our successors.”

Referring to the unity of husband and wife as the most important factor in achieving a joyous family togetherness, Honbu-in Matsuda pointed out that men and women are not necessarily of the same substance. He went on to explain: “Just as two same poles of magnets repel each other, men and women who consider each other the same tend to repel each other and may end up breaking their ties. This seems to be contributing to the breakdown of the family, which is adversely affecting children and even undermining the fabric of society.” Thus, he emphasized the importance of husband and wife mutually recognizing each other’s roles as man and woman and supporting and helping each other.

He also cited some passages from the Osashizu, The Divine Directions, concerning husband-wife relationships and stated that it is important for husband and wife to become aware of their own causalities reflected in each other as the closest mirror and endeavor to have bad causalities canceled. After mentioning his experience of home gardening in which the most important and time-consuming task is weeding, he exhorted the audience by saying: “Our causalities likewise sprout even when we are not aware of having sown the seeds. In particular, in order to eliminate bad causalities, we have to make persistent efforts to pull them out by the root. Otherwise we will not be able to receive the blessings we really desire. Our path to salvation lies in sweeping away dusts of the mind and canceling bad causalities, thus purifying our minds.”

Finally, Honbu-in Matsuda quoted a passage from the Shinbashira’s sermon at last year’s Autumn Grand Service and said: “As we live each day, no matter what happens, we ought to find joy in the fact that we live surrounded with the workings of God the Parent. The mind of joy is naturally followed by the mind of gratitude, which is then expressed in action as hinokishin.” He thus emphasized the importance of sustaining our efforts to engage in hinokishin, as well as sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and engaging in salvation work, with a smile and words of gratitude in our heart.

He concluded his sermon by saying, “In the coming year, we would like to renew our resolve and endeavor to bring about a joyous atmosphere in our families and churches and extend it to those around us.”

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