On January 26, the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Service was solemnly conducted in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. Over the preceding “three years, one thousand days” season designated for decisive efforts to prepare for the anniversary, the followers had exerted their utmost in “cultivating the mind of saving others” and “implementing salvation work” in their local communities through their respective roles and positions. Then on this long-awaited day, as many as 170,000 followers–including many from overseas–returned to the Home of the Parent to attend the Anniversary Service, thereby expressing their joy and gratitude for the blessings and guidance that they had received from God the Parent and Oyasama during the pre-anniversary period.
At 10:28 A.M., the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, left the Church Headquarters Staff Quarters for the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where he offered worship to the everliving Oyasama, and then proceeded to the Memorial Hall to pay respects. Upon arriving at the Main Sanctuary, the Shinbashira seated himself on the dais to deliver the Service prayer. After expressing gratitude to God the Parent for the marvelous blessings that have enabled the path to flourish, he said: “Today is the day when we conduct the Spring Grand Service each year. However, this year marks the 120th year since Oyasama, out of Her parental love to hasten the spiritual growth of all Her children, shortened Her life by 25 years to step out to level the ground throughout the world. Today, therefore, we will conduct the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Service.”
He then reported to God the Parent that during the “three years, one thousand days” pre-anniversary season, which was taken as a crucial stage in the quest for spiritual growth, all followers had endeavored to take a great stride in the work of single-hearted salvation in unity of mind so as to make repayment for the blessings of God the Parent. He continued: “Looking back on these years, however, we realize that our progress along the path of spiritual growth has turned out to be insufficient in order for us to respond to Your profound parental heart. Nevertheless, we are very grateful for the grace that You have shown in bringing us safely through the period, for which we would like to express our sincere gratitude to You.”
In closing, the Shinbashira said: “Taking Your deep parental love to heart on this significant occasion today, we solemnly pledge to make today a new departure point toward the next milestone as we continue our strides along the path, so that we might make repayment for Your blessings. Furthermore, we will exert ourselves fully so that we may show You a lively and joyous atmosphere in Jiba throughout this entire year, which we regard as the year of the anniversary, by bringing forth the fruit of the efforts we made during the ‘three years, one thousand days’ period.”
The Kagura Service was then solemnly performed in the Inner Sanctuary, while the congregation filling the four worship halls, Corridor, Inner Courtyard, and surrounding precincts single-heartedly joined together in singing the songs for the Service. This was followed by the joyous performance of the Dance with Hand Movements. Meanwhile, the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to serve Oyasama Her meal.
Following the Dance, the Shinbashira took the podium to deliver his sermon. All the Service performers then proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where the Shinbashira read a prayer to the everliving Oyasama. He expressed gratitude for Her loving care and guidance once again by saying: “In anticipation of Your anniversary today, we set aside the past ‘three years, one thousand days’ as a special season and made our utmost effort in advancing the path of single-hearted salvation in order to respond to Your boundless blessings. We are most grateful that You have guided us with Your deep parental love, and that we have been able to make progress, however limited, in our spiritual growth. We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to You.” He closed his prayer by making a resolve on behalf of all followers: “Taking today as a new beginning for the next anniversary, all of us are resolved to dedicate ourselves ever further in the cause of the path of single-hearted salvation, which will continue through endless generations.”
Shortly after his prayer, the musical siren sounded at two, marking the time of Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life. The Shinbashira, still seated in the Foundress’ Sanctuary, offered a one-minute silent prayer to the everliving Oyasama together with all other followers attending the Service.