On November 26, Church Headquarters conducted its November Monthly Service in the Main Sanctuary, with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. It was a balmy autumn day with very little wind, where the mild sunshine illuminated the colored tree leaves in the precincts as well as in the mountains stretching along the eastern edge of the Home of the Parent.
At 9:00 A.M., the Shinbashira, accompanied by other Service performers, left for the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall to pay respects before proceeding to the dais in the Main Sanctuary.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira first expressed gratitude for the boundless blessings with which God the Parent guides us to the Joyous Life. He then said: “We Service performers as well as church head ministers and other Yoboku will ponder over the Parent’s intention behind the various occurrences in the world around us. We will also seek to find joy as we implement the teachings in the course of our daily lives without being led astray by the rapidly changing world. We are determined to take further steps toward the construction of the Joyous Life World by striving to attain a level of spiritual growth that is appropriate for the years we have spent.”
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.
Following the Service performance, Honbu-in Mitsunori Toi took the podium to deliver the sermon. He first mentioned that the Shinbashira’s sermon at this year’s Autumn Grand Service had revisited the slogan “Let’s visit our churches with our families,” which is jointly promoted by the Women’s Association, the Young Men’s Association, and the Boys and Girls Association. He then pointed out that families in Japan are facing a critical situation as family ties have been weakening as a result of the rise of individualism that started in the post-war era. He then added, “Weakening family ties are making it harder for parents to teach their children what they need to be taught.” Maintaining that it is by nature very difficult to convey the teachings for salvation and the preciousness of faith, he emphasized that parents’ efforts to transmit the faith to their children require the same degree of sincerity and fervor with which they would seek to help and guide non-followers.
Honbu-in Toi then moved on to talk about the vertical mission and indicated that more and more children are increasingly lacking in perseverance. “In contemporary Japanese society, where people are blessed with abundant wealth, children can lead their lives without learning how to be patient. It is important, therefore, for parents to help their children develop the qualities of patience and perseverance,” he said.
He also emphasized that parents, both biological and spiritual, need to tell their children in their children’s formative years why the parents are making the painstaking efforts that they are making. “When the children realize the meaning behind their parents’ hard work, they will be grateful to their parents and will seek to follow the same path that their parents have followed,” said Honbu-in Toi. “It is of critical importance, therefore, to share your advice and insights with young people in their adolescence when they begin to think about who they are and search for their own identity.”
Further, after quoting passages from the Divine Directions and Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, he said, “If children do not come to have the faith their parents have, it is not the children’s fault but is something that their biological and spiritual parents have to reflect critically on.” He thus encouraged parents to have an awareness of the need to nurture the successors of the path and a commitment to do so.
Toward the end of his sermon, Honbu-in Toi quoted a Divine Direction that says, “If you take good care of young people, treating them as even more important than your own children, then there is no telling what great things they will do in the world” (Osashizu, June 19, 1893). He concluded his sermon by saying, “Keeping this hopeful divine message in our mind, let us work hard to nurture young people, including our own children as well as our spiritual children, while visiting churches with our families.”