On the 26th, Church Headquarters conducted its September Monthly Service in the Main Sanctuary, with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. Japan experienced record high temperatures this summer, with many parts of the country being hit by extreme heat even in September, but morning and evening temperatures began to drop during the weeks leading up to the Service day, which was blessed with fine autumn weather.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira first expressed gratitude for the boundless blessings of God the Parent, who became openly revealed through Oyasama as the Shrine of Tsukihi and thus guides us to the Joyous Life World. After expressing the followers’ resolve to strive single-heartedly to spread the teachings, he mentioned 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 conducted over the last three days of the month. He said, “The entire Yoboku community will strive to sprinkle the fragrance, so that we might share the true teachings with people in the world.”
Following the prayer, the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were joyously performed while followers sang the Songs for the Service in unison. A cool breeze occasionally swept through the Sanctuary precincts.
After the Service performance, Honbu-in Yoshimi Maegawa took the podium to deliver the sermon. He started off by discussing what it means to “take something for granted” and then said: “We often take things for granted. By doing that, however, we never feel a real sense of gratitude or joy. Also, we do not usually appreciate the preciousness of good health untill we get sick.” After reflecting upon the illnesses that he himself had experienced, Rev. Maegawa stressed the importance of reflecting upon our illnesses and troubles as guidance from God the Parent and supported his assertions by quoting verses from the Ofudesaki as well as a Divine Direction that says: “However large your treasure, of what value is it if you suffer from illness? There may be no greater misery. Free and unlimited blessings depend on your mind.”
Basing himself on the Ofudesaki, Rev. Maegawa offered some thoughts on God the Parent’s blessings as manifested in the human body and the world. He moved on to talk about what happens to brain cells when human beings age. We human beings, he said, have a maximum of about 14 billion brain cells. Although the brain cells start to decrease after we become adults, more than half of them will remain even when human beings live to be 115 years old―the natural term of life as taught by Oyasama. “I believe,” said Rev. Maegawa, “that God the Parent has designed and lent us the body in a way that allows us to live a long life depending on how we use our mind.”
He concluded his sermon by saying: “We human beings exist only because of the exhaustive efforts made by God the Parent over a long span of time. In order to respond to God’s profound parental heart, we have to devote and dedicate our sincerity to repaying our great indebtedness. To make repayment, we need to inquire into the origin and always keep that in our mind. Let us, therefore, go forward on the path of making repayment while keeping in mind how much we are indebted to God as well as trying not to take for granted what we are blessed with.”
Autumn Memorial Service
The Autumn Memorial Service was conducted on the following day, the 27th, with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. The Shinbashira read the prayer in the Main Sanctuary, followed by the performance of the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and the Twelve Songs. The ceremony then took place in the Memorial Hall, where the Shinbashira read a prayer, expressing his gratitude and respect for the predecessors’ painstaking efforts and accomplishments.