Tenrikyo Church Headquarters conducted its July Monthly Service on the 26th at the Main Sanctuary with the Shinbashira presiding.
Due to the approaching typhoon Banyan, it started to rain on the previous night and continued to rain through the Service. Despite the weather, a large number of followers returned to the Home of the Parent. Among the crowds that filled the worship halls were many children returning for the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba, which was to begin on the afternoon of that day.
At 9:00 A.M., the Shinbashira, along with the other Service performers, left the Staff Quarters to pay respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall before proceeding to the Main Sanctuary.
In his prayer, the Shinbashira first thanked God the Parent for the daily blessings. He then said: “Large numbers of children will be returning to Jiba, looking forward to the summer in Jiba. In order that they may find plenty of joy in the Home of the Parent, those of us who are in a position to serve them will exert our full measure of sincerity in performing our tasks. O God, may everything proceed smoothly throughout the duration of the pilgrimage, and we pray for Your blessing upon these children so that they, receiving Your grace, may grow into open, accepting, and happy young people with an enriched heart.”
He concluded his prayer by saying: “Now that our pre-anniversary activity period has entered its final stretch, all of us Yoboku, including the church head ministers, are striving to our utmost to make great strides in salvation work, with the entire Tenrikyo community being involved in this wholehearted effort. We pray for Your continued guidance and ask You to teach us repeatedly how to address any shortcomings we may have, so that we may achieve progress appropriate to the current season. Together with all present, I reverently pray that these blessings be bestowed.”
The Kagura and the Dance with the Hand Movements were then performed joyously. The followers filled the four worship halls and the Corridor that connects the Sancturaries. Outside, some took shelter from the rain under the eaves of the Corridor while others stood under their umbrellas in the Inner Courtyard. They all joined in singing the Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Service. Their voices resounded throughout the Main Sanctuary precincts.
Following the Service, Honbu-in Yuji Murata took the podium to deliver the sermon. Honbu-in Murata, who serves as bishop at the Mission Headquarters in Brazil, mentioned that he is planning to send pilgrimage groups to Jiba from Brazil every month between this coming December and December next year. Referring to the first ever pilgrimage group from Brazil, which attended the 50th Anniversary of Oyasama in 1936, as well as the next group, which came for the Centennial Anniversary of the founding of Tenrikyo in the following year, he said that those followers returned to Jiba despite the difficulty involved in making the required sea voyage, which took 64 days each way. He went on to say: “The most important thing we can do is to contribute and dedicate our sincerity to the Jiba, to the Residence of Origin. Oyasama waits for all Her children throughout the world to return to Jiba, whether they come from near or far, and yet I presume that She takes special delight in seeing those who have taken exceptional pains to return to Jiba.”
Based on the Anecdotes of Oyasama, Rev. Murata said: “Even though we may have resolved to return to Jiba for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, we still cannot be certain that our plans will not be upset by some unforeseen illness or other problem. Yet, so long as we are absolutely firm in our resolve to return to Jiba no matter what it takes, God the Parent will take us by the hand and bring us Home safely.”
Rev. Murata then pointed out: “Whether or not we dedicate our utmost efforts during this important year for concluding our pre-anniversary activities, and whether or not we will be able to bring joy to Oyasama next year by keeping the Home of the Parent lively throughout the year of the 120th Anniversary, will depend entirely on the truth of the mind of each and every Yoboku.” He concluded his sermon by saying: “The everliving Oyasama is always in front of us, behind us, and by our side. Let us all be cheerful and spirited during this year to conclude our pre-anniversary activities, and let us work to our utmost to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and save others as well as encourage others to join us in returning to Jiba for the anniversary.”