December Monthly Service Closes the Concluding Year of the Pre-Anniversary Activities

On December 26, 2005, the December Monthly Service for the 168th year of the Teaching was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with the Shinbashira presiding. Due to the severe cold weather, many followers returning to the Home of the Parent were all bundled up as they headed to the Main Sanctuary. Among the followers filling the Inner Courtyard were many youngsters and students since the Service fell during their winter vacation. At 9:00 A.M., the Shinbashira, accompanied by 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, where he read the Service prayer. In his prayer, the Shinbashira first offered thanks to God the Parent for the successful completion of two major construction projects, namely, the westward expansion of the Sanctuary precincts and the construction of the Oyasato-yakata’s South Right Wing 2. With only a month remaining before the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, the Shinbashira said, “All of us Yoboku including church head ministers are resolved to exert our utmost during this precious season by bracing ourselves once again so as to keep pace with one another in high spirits.” He concluded by praying for the blessings that would enable “all followers of the path to respond to Oyasama’s painstaking efforts in unity of mind by staying connected to the Jiba, by guiding as many people as possible back to the Home of the Parent to give it a lively atmosphere, and by bringing joy to Oyasama, who opened the portals and continues to work for world salvation.” The joyous performance of the Kagura and the Dance with Hand Movements was followed by the sermon delivered by Honbu-in Takanori Nagao. Rev. Nagao began his sermon by saying that the end of every year is a time for us to offer thanks to God the Parent for the blessings we received throughout the year and reflect upon that year so as to make a new resolution for the coming year. He continued: “Although the concluding year of the ‘three years, one thousand days’ season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama is coming to a close, it does not mean that our journey toward spiritual maturity ends here. Rather, let us build upon the efforts we have made over the past three years and exert further efforts to ensure that we receive God’s continued blessings, so that the coming year will be a year in which we feel a sense of fulfillment and excitement befitting the year of Oyasama’s anniversary.” He then cited the second Shinbashira, who said that January 26 was a day he could never forget even in his dreams, for it is the day when Oyasama withdrew from physical life to hasten the spiritual growth of Her children, all humankind. Rev. Nagao said: “Each of us followers of the path ought to share this sentiment expressed by the second Shinbashira. During the next one month prior to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, with what kind of thought should we live each day?” He then referred to the series of events that took place around January 26, 1887, indicating the tense situation that confronted our predecessors. “Despite severe oppression, our predecessors put aside their hesitation and aligned themselves with one another to serve fully in accord with God the Parent’s intention. During this important season, let us recall their fortitude as we brace ourselves for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. Moreover, we ought to reflect upon the pre-anniversary activities we conducted over the past three years and set the next one month as a month to intensify our efforts to make spiritual growth. Such is the way to respond to the boundless parental love of the everliving Oyasama, who set out to work for world salvation by withdrawing from physical life. We can then follow in the footsteps of our predecessors and build on what they achieved.” He concluded by saying: “Oyasama wrote in the Ofudesaki: ‘People come to Me from whatever places. It is because they all are of the original causality’ (IV:54). No parents would be unhappy to see their children come home together with their brothers and sisters. Since we are all brothers and sisters in the sense that we are all God the Parent’s children, we can bring even more joy to the Parent by returning to Jiba with other people. Let us therefore make every effort to return to Jiba as many times as possible, bringing along as many people as possible.”

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