The “Joyous Chorus” being conducted in front of the Foundress’ Sanctuary (Apr. 18)
The Oyasama Birth Celebration Service was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on April 18 to commemorate the 210th birthday of the everliving Oyasama, our beloved Parent who guides us toward the Joyous Life for all humankind. Great numbers of followers, including many from overseas, returned to the Home of the Parent to celebrate this festive occasion.
Shortly after 10:00 A.M., the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, arrived in the Main Sanctuary after having paid respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall. He ascended the dais and delivered the Service prayer to God the Parent on behalf of all followers.
After expressing our gratitude for the blessings we receive daily, the Shinbashira said: “This day today marks the auspicious day when Oyasama was born into this world in 1798. From now, therefore, we Service performers will conduct the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service by performing the Kagura and the Teodori with our joyous minds in unison.” He continued: “On this occasion of Oyasama’s birthday, as we Service performers, church head ministers, and Yoboku reflect deeply on Oyasama’s 50 years of hardships, we resolutely pledge to take the precious path of the Divine Model as our dependable guide and fulfill our tasks as Oyasama’s instruments.” He ended the prayer by saying: “Please accept our resolve and grant us Your free and unlimited blessings so that the path will grow vigorously both in this country and overseas, whereby the world will be spirited with overflowing joy and harmoniously united through receiving Your guidance even a day sooner. Together with all present, I pray that You grant us these blessings.”
The prayer was followed by the Kagura Service, which, reenacting God’s creation of humankind and the world, seeks to call forth the blessing of universal salvation. Then, the Dance with Hand Movements was joyously performed while the followers joined in singing the songs for the Service in high spirits.
Honbu-in Matsutaro Komatsu then took the podium to deliver the sermon, in which he talked about the Divine Model of Oyasama. He started the sermon by quoting from the Shinbashira’s sermon at the Autumn Grand Service last year: “[R]ather than judging Her teachings to be inappropriate for the present time or choosing to focus on the outward, formal aspects of Her teachings, I hope you will perceive and understand the truth embodied therein, the truth that is beyond time, so that you can use that truth to address the problems facing the world today.” Rev. Komatsu then said: “It is thus important for us to understand the truth embodied in the Divine Model and to make a resolution to bring ourselves into accord with that truth on this day today. I believe this is how we can respond to Oyasama’s parental love.”
Rev. Komatsu also emphasized that gaining an insight into the Truth of Origin is crucial if we are to grasp the essence of Oyasama’s Divine Model while drawing on the parallels between how God created human beings and how God began and continues to advance the path of world salvation. He said: “God began to lay the path of world salvation by showing the workings of human creation now in the world. In this sense, God’s providence at the time of creation is the source of our salvation.” He went on to say: “God the Parent taught us the Service as an important means for constructing the Joyous Life World. We ought to ask for God’s free and unlimited blessings by performing the Service. By receiving God’s workings through the Service, we ought to powerfully advance the path of world salvation.”
Referring to the difficulties that our predecessors had to face in performing the Service, he said: “Although they could not perform the Kagura Service as Oyasama taught it, they stayed connected to Jiba and, thus receiving the truth of the Parent, went through those difficult times in high spirits. Each time they overcame a knot, the path made great progress.” He continued: “When we are constantly given the blessings that allow us to perform the Service as intended by God without any hindrance, we may end up taking those blessings for granted and thereby lose the sense of urgency and emotional uplift. It is likely the case that we may not be putting our hearts sufficiently into performing the Service even though we may well understand the weighty truth embodied in the Service, which Oyasama taught us by opening the portals and shortening Her term of life by 25 years. . . . I believe that now is the time for us to seek the essence of Oyasama’s Divine Model and establish in our minds a firm basis for our faith.”
Rev. Komatsu concluded the sermon by saying: “Let us deepen our understanding of the true significance of the Divine Model that Oyasama demonstrated. By making a firm resolution to respond to Oyasama’s painstaking efforts and boundless blessings in this way, I think we can bring the greatest joy to Her on Her birthday.”
Thereupon, the Shinbashira, accompanied by the former Shinbashira and the other Service performers, returned to the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where he read a prayer to the everliving Oyasama. In the prayer, he said: “Upon the arrival of the promised time, You were settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi. You spent the subsequent 50 long years going through many difficulties and hardships cheerfully. Thus, You demonstrated the Divine Model of single-heartedness with God through Your own example and thereby laid the path to the Joyous Life. Moreover, after opening the portals and stepping out to level the ground throughout the world, You have been continuing to work for world salvation by virtue of Your eternal life. We are so grateful for the boundless parental love with which You have been guiding us each day.”
He ended the prayer with the words: “We are resolved to further raise our awareness of being Your instruments, devote ourselves to the path of the Divine Model, and dedicate ourselves to the tasks of single-hearted salvation. Particularly given that a number of knots are being shown in the world today, I ask that You train us repeatedly to address any shortcomings we may have, and please continue to guide us so that we may fully perform the tasks befitting this time and season. Together with all present, I pray for these blessings.”
Immediately following the Service, a musical event called “Joyous Chorus” was conducted in the Inner Courtyard, where thousands of followers joined in singing a number of songs, including “O-uta 12: Path of the Divine Model” and “Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song,” to the accompaniment of music provided by students of Tenri High School and other Tenrikyo schools as well as members of Tenrikyo Institute of Music.