On the 26th, Church Headquarters conducted its September Monthly Service in the Main Sanctuary, with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. Although it was a hot day with the temperature rising to 28°C (82.4°F), a cool breeze occasionally swept through the Sanctuary precincts.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira first expressed gratitude for the boundless blessings with which God the Parent protects us day and night and guides us to the Joyous Life. He then said: “September is the month that has been designated for special efforts focused on sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings. In particular, Tenrikyo Nioigake Day will be conducted over the last three days of the month when church head ministers will be giving roadside speeches and the entire Yoboku community will strive to tell others about the true path that settles the world.”
After the joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements, Honbu-in Kazuo Nagao took the podium to deliver the sermon.
Rev. Nagao first referred to the Story of Creation while quoting verses from the Ofudesaki, The Tip of the Writing Brush. He said, “The Story of Creation, which is also taught as the Story of Salvation, contains all the teachings, including fundamental and practical teachings.” He then emphasized: “The Service is based on the Truth of Origin. Through the Service, in which we reenact the workings during human creation, we pray for God the Parent’s constant blessings to be given to us through all eternity. Thus, the truth of creation and the truth of salvation are one in principle.” He also stressed that we all can take part in this supreme ritual based on the truth of human creation–the Service–either by attending the Kagura Service at Jiba or by taking part in the service performance at our respective church.
He then stated: “Each church’s service is connected to the truth of the Kagura Service at Jiba, which is said to be the source of all blessings. The sincerity of each performer of the service at each church is connected to the truth of the Kagura Service; that is how the truth of the Kagura Service can flow to each church.”
Reflecting on Oyasama’s Divine Model, Rev. Nagao said: “We are now able to follow the path in any situation without being disheartened. In fact, the more difficult and trying the situation is, the more we can focus on Oyasama’s Divine Model and seek Her mind in it. How blessed we are! Indeed, this is a path that only the Parent could go through and lay for us.” He then encouraged the followers to bring themselves into accord with Oyasama’s mind of single-hearted salvation, apply themselves to cultivating a proactive faith that seeks to polish their mind of sincerity, and devote themselves to performing the service. “Each time we perform the service,” he continued, “we should remind ourselves of the Truth of Origin and, thereby, reaffirm our understanding of the Parent’s intention in creating humankind and the world. Deepening our awareness of universal brotherhood, we should strive to implement the way of living that leads to the Joyous Life in which people help one another. That is the way to receive blessings.”
After sharing some anecdotes of Oyasama, he went on to say: “Everyone who comes back to Jiba is actually drawn here by Oyasama out of Her deep love for each of them. It is important, therefore, for us to take care of those returning to Jiba and nurture them just as Oyasama would do.”
After quoting from the Shinbashira’s sermons at the Spring and Autumn Grand Services in 2007, Rev. Nagao concluded his sermon by saying: “Let us once again reflect upon the steps we have taken so far and reexamine where we now stand. Let each of us refresh our mind and make a resolution to take firm and steady steps along the path in order to respond to the Parent’s intention.”
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.