On August 26, Tenrikyo Church Headquarters conducted its Monthly Service in the Main Sanctuary with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. As Japan experienced an unusually hot summer, this day was another hot day with a high reaching 35°C (95°F).
After expressing appreciation to God the Parent for the daily blessings, the Shinbashira said in the Service prayer, “Perceiving in whatever is happening in society Your parental heart that urges us to save people, we adore Your warm parental love expressed in the following Ofudesaki verse, ‘Of whatever salvation, you are assured, because your true Parent lives.'” Representing all Yoboku, he then pledged, “We will make a point of further seeking the teachings, following the Divine Model, and thoroughly implementing the Service and the Sazuke, thereby making a firm step toward reconstructing the world into one of joyousness.”
The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then performed joyously while the followers joined together in singing the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service.
Honbu-in Motoyoshi Tomimatsu then took the podium to deliver the sermon. After voicing his concerns about salvation work in modern society, he started to discuss how to address issues concerning husband-wife, parent-child, and family relationships.
After quoting passages from the Shinbashira’s sermon delivered at the 2009 Spring Grand Service, he stated, “The disintegration of the family has been regarded as particularly problematic in modern society, and some serious social issues are attributed to the weakening ties among family members.” With regard to issues surrounding the relationships between husbands and wives as well as between parents and children, he mentioned divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, addiction, school refusal, social withdrawal, and the rapidly increasing incidence of mental problems including depression. “Those are the issues we followers of the path have to attend to,” he stressed, adding, “The path will surely bring about true salvation. I would like you to feel confident that Tenrikyo alone can save the family in a true sense.”
He then referred to a passage in the Shinbashira’s New Year’s greetings, in which the Shinbashira said, “It is important . . . for us to show people around us a joyous family togetherness befitting the path, where people help one another in unity of mind.” Honbu-in Tomimatsu continued, “Now, the question is how we can attain a joyous family togetherness befitting the path.” Based on the Ofudesaki verse that says, “Even between parent and child, husband and wife, and brothers and sisters: their minds all differ from one another,” he said: “Since people of different minds come to form a couple or a family, it will be difficult for them to head in the direction of the Joyous Life unless they make efforts to unite their minds through frequent discussions. . . . It is also important for them to have humble minds and respect each other.”
He went on to explain the attitude that followers ought to have when striving to save a family. He noted: “When family members encounter a problem, they must not point fingers. Family problems are the reflections of their causality from their previous lives. What we need to do to help them be saved is have them acknowledge their own causality and accept it joyously while encouraging them to build virtue.” He also mentioned the importance of feeling people’s pain and listening to what they have to say.
“In a society of high population mobility,” he said, “it is necessary for us to maintain connections with fellow Tenrikyo followers who have moved away so that we can continue to guide and nurture them and provide support for their family members. Encouraging them to subscribe to the Tenri Jiho newspaper is an effective way to help them stay connected.”
Honbu-in Tomimatsu concluded his sermon by saying: “I consider the issue of the weakening family ties as the most urgent task God the Parent has given us to work on. Let us unite our efforts to fulfill the task that God is urging us Yoboku to undertake.”