On January 1, Tenrikyo Church Headquarters conducted the New Year’s Day Service in the Main Sanctuary with the Shinbashira presiding. The Service marked the beginning of the 168th year of the Teaching, which will be the concluding year of the “three years, one thousand days” season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama and thus the year in which the pre-anniversary activities are to be brought to completion.
When the followers began assembling in the Sanctuary precincts, the Home of the Parent was still enshrouded in darkness and there was a bitter chill in the winter air. The moonlit mountains to the east lay still and white, covered with the snow that had fallen on New Year’s Eve. At 5:00 A.M., the Shinbashira and the other Service performers began their rounds of the Sanctuaries while elegant gagaku music resonated throughout the precincts. When they arrived at the Main Sanctuary, the Shinbashira ascended the dais to deliver the Service prayer. He said: “Last year, being the second of the three years set aside to prepare for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, we strove to make headway in our salvation activities. We offer our gratitude for the loving parental care that You showed in bringing us safely through the year and for the many splendid blessings we received. As this year will be the concluding year of our pre-anniversary season, we are renewing our commitment to dedicate the full measure of our sincerity in the spirit of single-hearted salvation and work to our utmost so that we may fulfill the resolutions we made for this season.” The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then performed joyously while the congregation joined in singing the songs that accompany the Service. Following the Service performance, the Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where he extended New Year’s greetings to Oyasama and expressed gratitude for the blessings we received during the previous year. He then said: “With the turn of the new year, we are committed to redoubling the joy we derive from serving as Your instruments in the cause of world salvation. In response to Your warm parental heart, we pledge to bring our high-spirited minds into unison, follow Your Divine Model, and apply our utmost sincerity to the tasks of single-hearted salvation, and thereby complete the pre-anniversary activities we are undertaking during this ‘three years, one thousand days’ season.”