The Shinbashira began the Service prayer by expressing gratitude for God the Parent’s constant blessings. He then said: “All of us church head ministers and other Yoboku are constantly working to convey and spread Your intention throughout the world with a sense of gratitude and out of a desire to make repayment for Your blessings. We are determined to follow the path of single-hearted salvation to realize the world of the Joyous Life, no matter how many generations it may take to accomplish this goal.”
The prayer was followed by the joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements, during which the congregation joined together in singing the songs for the Service.
The sermon was then delivered by Honbu-in Shigehito Kimura, who focused his talk on ways to answer questions that are often asked of Tenrikyo followers, such as “What kind of a religion is Tenrikyo?” and “Why do you follow Tenrikyo?” He said that all followers would do well to find an answer to the latter question by asking themselves, “Why do I follow Tenrikyo?” Reflecting on our faith in that manner, he maintained, is an important exercise that will allow us to attain a fresh awareness of the actual state of our personal faith.
Rev. Kimura said that the question “Why do I follow Tenrikyo?” could be answered from three perspectives: the past, the present, and the future. Answers concerned with the past would include reflections on the beginnings of our family’s faith as well as our personal faith. “Even if our families have been followers for generations,” he said, “it is important for us to reflect not only on why the first generation originally entered the faith but also on the day when we ourselves consciously embraced the faith.”
Answers concerned with the present, he continued, would highlight the importance of our practice of faith, particularly in connection with our feelings of gratitude for God the Parent’s blessings and our desire to make repayment for those blessings by helping others to be saved.
Answers having to do with the future, he said, might revolve around our desire to hand down the teachings to the next generation and nurture Yoboku to carry the path forward in the future. In this connection, he spoke about the objectives of the Ichiretsukai Foundation, of which he currently serves as the executive board chairman, and explained that a high percentage of the church head ministers and their spouses had once been recipients of Ichiretsukai scholarships.
Rev. Kimura concluded by saying: “We lead our lives connected to one another in a variety of interpersonal relationships. . . . To savor the Joyous Life, therefore, we must refrain from using our minds in self-centered ways and, instead, live in the spirit of mutual help and mutual respect. Nothing is so important as living with the mind of sincerity that is focused on saving others.” He thus brought the sermon to a close by calling on all followers to take the initiative in implementing the Joyous Life.
Spring Memorial Service Performed
On March 27, the Spring Memorial Service was conducted. Following the Service prayer, the dances to the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and the Twelve Songs were performed in the Main Sanctuary. The ceremony then took place in the Memorial Hall, where the Shinbashira read a prayer honoring the virtues of the predecessors who dedicated their efforts and sincerity to the path in accordance with the intention of the Parent.