On January 1, the New Year’s Day Service was solemnly conducted in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. That day marked the beginning of the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. The temperature in the Home of the Parent dropped as low as 30ºF (-1ºC) at 4:00 A.M., which was colder than the same day last year. All four worship halls were filled with many followers who came back to Jiba for the Service. The lanterns hung on the newly completed lantern stands in the precincts of Church Headquarters were lit, and elegant gagaku music echoed throughout the precincts.
At 5:00 A.M., the Shinbashira and the Service performers first paid their respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall, and then they proceeded to the Main Sanctuary. The Shinbashira started the Service prayer by saying: “We all strove to advance single-hearted salvation during the final year of the ‘three years, one thousand days’ season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. Thanks to Your boundless parental love, we were able to make headway along the path of spiritual growth day after day. We are truly grateful for Your guidance and blessings.” He went on to say: “As we embark upon the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, all of us Yoboku, who have been making individual efforts toward the anniversary, are determined to demonstrate the fruits of our work so as to impart genuine significance to our observance of the anniversary. We are also firmly resolved to work hard to receive the blessing that the Home of the Parent will have a lively atmosphere throughout this year.” He closed his prayer by saying: “Although our progress is slow, I ask You to continue to guide us with Your parental love so that each church will promote world salvation ever more energetically by receiving the truth of the Jiba and thereby produce positive results befitting the anniversary. Together with all present, I pray that these blessings be bestowed.” The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were performed after the prayer. Although it got colder as winds from the north blew through the worship halls, the followers joined together in singing the Songs for the Service joyfully in unison. Following the Service, the Shinbashira, accompanied by the Service performers, returned to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to offer the everliving Oyasama his New Year’s greetings. He said: “Entering upon the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, we are ready to do everything in our power to advance the work of single-hearted salvation with renewed resolve and with a heightened awareness of being the instruments of Oyasama.”