On April 18, Tenrikyo Church Headquarters conducted the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service to commemorate the 207th birthday of the everliving Oyasama, our beloved Parent who guides us toward the Joyous Life for all humankind. To celebrate this festive occasion, great numbers of followers returned to the Home of the Parent from both within Japan and overseas.
Shortly after 10:00 A.M., the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, arrived in the South Worship Hall after having paid respects to Oyasama in the Foundress’ Sanctuary. The Shinbashira then ascended the dais to deliver the Service prayer on behalf of all followers.
After expressing our gratitude to God the Parent for the precious blessings that have enabled the path to flourish, the Shinbashira stated our resolve to follow the path of the Divine Model of Oyasama and to fulfill our mission as Her instruments in accord with Her parental heart. He concluded his prayer by saying: “I reverently pray together with all present that You will guide us in our efforts to convey to the hearts of people throughout the world that everything in this world is sustained by God the Parent’s providence and that all human beings are equal children of God, so that all people may walk the path of sincerity while forsaking their self-centered thoughts and helping one another as brothers and sisters.”
Following the performance of the Kagura Service around the Kanrodai in the Inner Sanctuary, the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to serve Oyasama Her meal. Meanwhile, the Teodori, the Dance with Hand Movements, was joyously performed in the Main Sanctuary.
The sermon was then delivered by Honbu-in Utaro Takami. After describing how Oyasama was settled as the Shrine of God the Parent upon the arrival of the promised time, he said: “Settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi, Oyasama first fell into the depths of poverty by giving to the needy. Oyasama thus instructed us concerning material things, which are close and important to us. Material things are indispensable in our lives. We could not even live without them. When we become preoccupied with them, however, we will lose the brightness of our minds and eventually prevent ourselves from leading the Joyous Life.” He went on to say: “Even if technology advances, so long as the human minds that utilize it do not accord with God the Parent’s intention, it will never contribute to human happiness. In fact, as more and more products are being churned out, environmental pollution is becoming worse and worse.”
Rev. Takami also emphasized the importance of performing the Service, saying: “To those who were shown instances of miraculous salvation, Oyasama taught the Service. Through performing the Service in high spirits as intended by God, we are assured of the Joyous Life for all people in the world. At the beginning of people’s faith, they are filled with the innocent, child-like joy of receiving miraculous salvation from illness or troubles. Even if they keep their faith for a long time, however, as long as they desire salvation only for themselves or their families, there could be no spiritual growth for them and their joy would not last long.”
In concluding his sermon, Rev. Takami called upon the listeners to bring as many people as possible back to Jiba for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. He said: “Let us take the entire year as the year to observe the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, by focusing ourselves on the 26th, as taught in the words, ‘The truth of the twenty-sixth lies in coming out at night and ending in the afternoon.’ As we are in the midst of the concluding year of our pre-anniversary activities, let us exert our utmost efforts to bring as many people as possible to Jiba.”
Thereupon, the Shinbashira, accompanied by the former Shinbashira and the other Service performers, returned to the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where he read a prayer to the everliving Oyasama. In the prayer, he said: “Due to the causality of Your soul, You were settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi at the arrival of the promised time. Thereafter, You went through a path of hardship likened to steep mountains, tangles of thorns, and narrow ledges, in accord with God the Parent’s intention and thereby revealed the ultimate teaching. Moreover, in order to hasten the spiritual growth of Your children, You opened the portals of the Shrine and stepped out to level the ground throughout the world. You continue to work for world salvation, now as ever before, by virtue of Your eternal life. We are truly grateful for Your parental love and care.”
The Shinbashira ended the prayer with the words: “Along with words of celebration for Your birthday, we wish to express our sincere gratitude to You and make a pledge to brace ourselves and put further efforts into the work of single-hearted salvation that You are ever hastening. Especially since we are in the midst of the concluding year of the ‘three years, one thousand days’ season leading up to Your 120th Anniversary, we are currently exerting our utmost in advancing single-hearted salvation so that we may respond to Your deep parental love. Although we may be slow in our spiritual growth, please continue to guide us whenever we fall short so that we may bring forth great fruits of salvation during this important season.”
Immediately following the Service, a musical event called “Joyous Chorus” was conducted in the Inner Courtyard, where thousands of followers joined in singing a number of songs, including “O-uta 12: Path of the Divine Model” and “Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song,” to the accompaniment of music provided by students of Tenri High School and other Tenrikyo schools as well as members of Tenrikyo Institute of Music.