Followers Pledge to Take Steady Steps toward Single-hearted Salvation with Renewed Minds
On October 26, the Autumn Grand Service was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant, commemorating the Teaching’s day of origin when God the Parent became openly revealed in the world for the first time in 1838 upon the arrival of the Promised Time and began the “ultimate teaching.” Pondering over the day of origin, some 80,000 followers who returned from both within the country and from overseas took the Shinbashira’s words to heart and pledged to take steady steps toward single-hearted salvation with renewed minds.
On the day of the Service, an autumnal rain front hovering south of Japan brought thick clouds in the sky and caused the morning haze over the mountains on the eastern edge of the Home of the Parent. In the cold rain, followers with different colored umbrellas in hand headed to the Main Sanctuary while minding their step to avoid puddles.
Shortly before 8:00 a.m.–the hour at which Oyasama was settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi–the Shinbashira left the Staff Quarters with other Service performers for the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall to pay their respects before proceeding to the Main Sanctuary.
After expressing appreciation for God’s continuous guidance and blessings given since the founding of the Teaching through the present day, he said in the Service prayer: “We Service performers as well as church head ministers and other Yoboku are determined to ponder over the Teaching’s day of origin once again and to deeply settle in our minds Your intention expressed in the following Ofudesaki verse, ‘Now that I shall work salvation unknown until now, it is necessary to make the origin known.’ We are also resolved to ponder ever more deeply over Your intention, convey the Truth of Heaven widely to the world, and take a firm step toward the realization of the Joyous Life World.” He then prayed for further guidance “so that people in the whole world will come to know the true Parent even a day sooner, live in accord with [God’s] intention, and savor the world filled with joy.”
The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then joyously performed. Although it had been raining since early morning, it eased to a drizzle by the time the Kagura Service began. The congregation including those who filled the four worship halls, the Corridor, and stairs as well as those who positioned themselves beneath the Main Sanctuary, under the eaves, or outside in the drizzle joined together in singing the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service.
The Shinbashira then took the podium to deliver the sermon (see full text on pages 2 and 3). He first reflected on God the Parent’s first revelation and the three-day dialogue between God and humans before Oyasama was settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi. He then reminded the followers that the eternal and unchanging origin could serve as a secure and dependable guide in the rapidly changing world and that it was important for them to return their thoughts to the origin and reconfirm their understanding of it at each important juncture and as occasion arose. He also encouraged the listeners to attain a level of spiritual growth that was appropriate for the years they had spent so that they could live up to the following words of Oyasama, which are found in Anecdote no. 90: “[V]irtue is more deeply planted in the second generation than in the first one, and deeper still in the third than in the second.”
He then turned his focus to the sermon he delivered at this year’s Spring Grand Service where he mentioned the “joyous atmosphere of family togetherness.” He said, “[The] world [of the Joyous Life] in which God and humankind dwell in perfect union can, I think, be called the ultimate family togetherness.” He went on to emphasize, “To achieve a happy family togetherness, the harmony and unity of mind between husband and wife is indispensable.” Expressing his concern about the effects of the weakening ties of husband and wife on contemporary society, he voiced his expectations for what the followers were equipped to do by saying, “We can say that those of us who are Yoboku have an extremely important role to play in present-day society as we are taught the particular importance of the husband-wife relationship in this regard.”
Between the 25th and 27th, major events such as the “O-uta Concert” and the Young Men’s Association Convention were held in the Home of the Parent. Also, some directly supervised churches, dioceses, and women’s association branch chapters organized pilgrimage groups, which included those who attended the Besseki lectures. According to the Overseas Department, a total of 492 followers returned to the Home of the Parent to attend the Service from 19 countries and regions: Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, France, and the U.K.