February Monthly Service Performed

The February Monthly Service of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was solemnly conducted on the 26th with the Shinbashira presiding. A large number of followers who had returned to Jiba to attend the Service brought to mind the day of origin of Oyasama’s anniversaries and joined in the singing of the Songs for the Service. This was the first Monthly Service performance following the observance of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama on January 26. Throughout this year, which is designated as the “year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama,” each Monthly Service of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters is being conducted “by receiving the truth of January 26.” Also, between February and December, all church head ministers are to attend one of the Monthly Services in a designated area next to the Inner Sanctuary. As the starting time of the Service approached, the number of followers in and around the precincts steadily increased. In spite of the rainy weather, which made big puddles of water on the ground, many pilgrimage groups and families headed for the Main Sanctuary. Followers filled the corridors, stairs, and the Main Sanctuary’s four worship halls. Fifteen minutes before the beginning of the Service, 1,659 church head ministers dressed in their service garments filed into the Main Sanctuary and took their seats in the designated area. The Shinbashira arrived in the Main Sanctuary after paying respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall and delivered the Service prayer. Looking back on the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Service, he stated: “We were able to duly conduct the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Service with a great number of followers, who filled not only the worship halls but also the vast area of the Sanctuary precincts. We are truly thankful for that as it brought us deep emotion and enthusiasm, which we can never forget.” He went on to say, “Since today is the day for the February Monthly Service, we Service performers will now perform the Kagura Service and the Dance with the Hand Movements while taking to heart the truth of the day of origin when Oyasama opened the portals to hasten the implementation of the Service.” He concluded by saying: “Please continue to guide us with Your deep parental love so that we can take vigorous steps toward the Joyous Life World that is intended by You. Together with all present, I pray that You may grant us these blessings.” The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then performed with joy. The followers joined together in singing the Songs for the Service, and their singing resonated throughout the precincts. The sermon was delivered by Honbu-in Masahiko Iburi. Reflecting on the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, he first raised a question by saying, “Why did Oyasama withdraw from physical life?” Quoting a Divine Direction, he explained that Her withdrawal was out of love for all human beings, Her children. He then said, “But if it was out of love for God’s children, then, from their human perspective, our predecessors would have preferred to have Oyasama continue to guide them as ever before through Her physical presence and Her human voice.” He pointed out, however, that there is always a large discrepancy between the blessings and salvation intended and given by God the Parent and the blessings and salvation imagined and desired by us human beings. He went on to say: “We human beings find the intention of God the Parent difficult to understand. Yet, as we make strides along the path while exerting our utmost efforts and leaning on God the Parent wholeheartedly, we can eventually begin to understand the intention of our Parent. . . . The result of following the path while completely trusting in the blessings of God the Parent is that we are able to grow spiritually.” Turning to the first question, he explained: “The entirety of Oyasama’s parental love embodied in the 50-year course of Her life after being settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi in 1838 is condensed into this one day–January 26, 1887. And understanding the divine intention in Oyasama’s withdrawal on that day is what enables us to follow the path seriously and decisively.” He then referred to anecdotes of several early followers who received the blessings from Oyasama in person, and he stressed: “The 50-year model demonstrated by our Parent is the foundation of this path. And Her 50-year model is a source of strength that enables us to walk this path. . . . At times when we are being sucked into a whirlwind of human thoughts and facing many knots in our life, we might allow our spirits to fall. But if we keep Oyasama’s 50-year path of the Divine Model in our mind, we will never lose sight of this path. Instead, we will be able to correct the course of our path as we continue walking the path of single-hearted salvation.” He concluded his sermon by saying: “The Oyasama 120th Anniversary Service was duly performed. However, from the perspective of realizing the Joyous Life World, it was merely a passing point. And this passing point is important. It is at this juncture when each one of us must reflect deeply and take a close look at our state of mind and the manner in which we are proceeding on the path as followers of this path.”

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