The December Monthly Service was conducted in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on December 26, 2008. Many followers returned to Jiba to attend the last Service of the year.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira reflected on the 171st year of the Teaching. He said that it was a year in which all Yoboku had devoted themselves to making spiritual growth by trying to bring themselves into accord with the Parent’s mind so that they could implement the teachings in their daily life and lead the Joyous Life. Referring to a number of anniversaries–such as Tenri High and Junior High Schools’ 100th anniversary, the Young Men’s Association’s 90th anniversary, and Tenrikyo Ichiretsukai Foundation’s 80th anniversary–that were observed during the year, which marked the 100th year since Tenrikyo achieved sectarian independence, the Shinbashira expressed gratitude for God’s blessings shown throughout the year. He concluded by saying: “We Service performers as well as church head ministers and Yoboku will reflect on whatever shortcomings we may have had during the year in order to renew our resolve for the upcoming year. We are thus determined to devote our utmost effort to reconstructing the world by implementing the path of the Divine Model while maintaining an awareness of our mission.”
The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then performed joyously. The followers who attended the Service joined in singing the songs for the Service in high spirits.
Honbu-in Yoshitaro Fukaya then took the podium to deliver the sermon. He first shared his thoughts on how Izo Iburi had devoted his utmost sincerity to the Residence even during the busy year-end season. “Izo Iburi’s sincerity,” he said, “came from his gratitude for the blessing of salvation received by his wife, who had fallen ill after a miscarriage. Always remembering his joy and gratitude, he followed a path of making repayment for the blessing.” He then asked if we, too, are not receiving blessings just as Izo Iburi did. “Some of us, for instance, are blessed with our spouses. Some of us are blessed with our parents’ good health. Some surely have brothers and sisters, children, or grandchildren,” he said. “We thus receive many wonderful blessings,” he added.
Then, basing himself on the Ofudesaki, The Tip of the Writing Brush, Rev. Fukaya explained the workings of God the Parent such as fire, water, and wind, as well as the ten aspects of the complete providence and the teaching of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed.” He emphasized that the blessings we receive from God the Parent are countless and, therefore, we could never fully appreciate the blessings we receive. He then said, “As a path to make repayment for the boundless blessings we receive, Oyasama taught the path of single-hearted salvation, showing us how we should strive to help others be saved.” He continued: “Authentic Yoboku are the people who can pray for the world to be settled and for others to be saved through the performance of the Service. They also administer the Sazuke to those suffering from illness, praying for the blessing of their recovery.”
Rev. Fukaya then shared some instances of miraculous salvation that were shown after his church began holding a Sazuke administration session after every monthly service, starting six years ago. “God the Parent will definitely show us blessings so long as we administer the Sazuke. There is no treasure in the world that is more precious and more dependable than the Sazuke.”
He concluded the sermon by saying: “In the upcoming year, I hope that all of us Yoboku will heighten our awareness of being Yoboku and unite our minds in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and engaging in salvation work. Let us bring joy to God the Parent and Oyasama and respond to the Shinbashira’s expectation by advancing the path of world salvation in unity of mind.”