The July Monthly Service of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was conducted at the Main Sanctuary on the 26th and led by the Shinbashira. It was a clear and blistering day at the Home of the Parent with a high temperature surpassing 35°C [95°F].
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira touched on the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, saying: “With Your great parental love, please watch over the children who return here from different parts of the world as they participate in various activities and enjoy the summer festivities in the Home of the Parent. I pray that You will guide them through so that their minds will be enriched as they continue to make progress along the path of spiritual growth cheerfully and in good health.”
This was followed by a highly joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements. Worshipers sang the Mikagura-uta in unison as pilgrimage groups bearing flags and wearing matching T-shirts stood out in the Headquarters precincts, signaling that the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba would soon be underway.
The sermon was delivered by Honbu-in Hiroyoshi Shimamura. He began by saying, “I would like to take the opportunity to inquire into the origin of the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba and share my thoughts concerning returning on a pilgrimage to Jiba in general.”
He explained that the origins of the Children’s Pilgrimage could be traced to 1953, when the pre-anniversary activities leading up to the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama began with earth-carrying hinokishin for the construction of the Home of the Parent. Then, after people expressed the desire to have the upcoming generation who were to become the future leaders of the path experience the joy of this hinokishin, the following year, 1954, saw the beginning of the “Children’s Hinokishin Pilgrimage to Jiba.” In 1956, the year of the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama, the event came under the direct sponsorship of Church Headquarters and was renamed the “Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba.” He then said this year marked the 57th Children’s Pilgrimage.
Rev. Shimamura then cited passages from the Besseki lecture and spoke about the significance of returning to Jiba and how people have a variety of reasons for doing so. He then pointed out, “Each person who returns to Jiba ultimately can do so because God the Parent intends it and draws him or her here.”
After referring to several stories from Anecdotes of Oyasama, he said: “Our predecessors returned to Jiba, often with the single wish to receive blessings for the physical condition that guided and drew them here. Once they followed Oyasama’s teachings willingly and straightforwardly, they received wondrous and unprecedented blessings. They then embarked on the path of single-hearted salvation as an expression of their appreciation for having been saved. Many of our predecessors did so even though very little time had passed since they embraced the faith. This is because Oyasama uses people as instruments for the cause of single-hearted salvation once there is a divine intention to draw them here.”
Further, Rev. Shimamura stated: “This is even more so for the majority of us today who have inherited the faith from our parents. We are splendidly blessed in that we can come across God the Parent’s intention and pursue Oyasama’s Divine Model through reading the Scriptures in addition to reading the supplementary texts The Doctrine of Tenrikyo and The Life of Oyasama. . . . We ought to convey these teachings as quickly as possible to those who are agonizing and suffering because they do not know about God the Parent’s intention. To do so is to fulfill the duty that has been entrusted to us as Yoboku. We ought to learn from the examples set by our predecessors who believed in what Oyasama taught without a single ounce of doubt and straightforwardly pursued to follow Her Divine Model. Then, we can go about sprinkling the fragrance and engaging in salvation work and delight God the Parent and Oyasama by striving to bring as many people as we can, even just one person more, on a pilgrimage to Jiba.”
Rev. Shimamura then closed his sermon by saying, “I hope that the children who return for this year’s Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba will each gain merit and take home with them experiences that may nourish their joy for the rest of their lives.”