On January 26, the Shinbashira led 87,000 followers in the Spring Grand Service at the Main Sanctuary of Church Headquarters, commemorating the day Oyasama withdrew from physical life 116 years ago. Oyasama shortened Her physical life by 25 years in opening the “portals of the Shrine” on January 26, 1887, to step out to “level the ground” throughout the world. “Because of My love for you, My children,” Oyasama said, “the Parent shortened Her life by twenty-five years to step out and save the world from now. Observe well.” As indicated by these words, Her intention in withdrawing from physical life stemmed from Her parental love, which desires to hasten the spiritual growth of all humankind, Her children.
At 11:30 A.M., the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, proceeded first to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to offer worship to the everliving Oyasama and then to the Memorial Hall to pay respects. Upon arriving at the Main Sanctuary, the Shinbashira seated himself on the dais to deliver the Service prayer. After expressing gratitude for the infinite blessings of God the Parent and indebtedness to Oyasama for providing Her workings for world salvation by virtue of Her eternal life, he said: “All of us Service performers as well as church head ministers and Yoboku are determined to exert our utmost efforts, in a unity of mind, to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and to work for the salvation of others as we prepare for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.” He then asked for God the Parent’s blessings to help sweep dust from people’s minds, build the harmony of mutual help and support, and make the “mind of the Parent” known to those straying onto dangerous paths of human thinking, unaware of the Parent of Origin and of God’s boundless parental heart. He prayed that, in that manner, the world might be reconstructed as the Joyous Life World.
The Kagura then began, followed by the Dance with Hand Movements. The followers who had assembled for the Service–including many from overseas–joined together in singing the songs that accompanied the Service while once again taking to heart Oyasama’s intention in doing everything She could to urge the followers to perform the Service, even going to the extent of confronting them with a serious disorder of Her own body. The congregation made a firm commitment to carry out this year’s pre-anniversary activities as befits the first year of the “three years, one thousand days” season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.
The Shinbashira’s sermon, which followed, provided pointers on where to center the mind in conducting the pre-anniversary activities. When the daily musical siren sounded at two o’clock, marking the time Oyasama withdrew from physical life, he interrupted his delivery to offer a prayer in the direction of the Foundress’ Sanctuary.