The April Monthly Service of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was solemnly conducted on the 26th with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. The weather was overcast and relatively chilly for this season of the year–the average temperature in the morning being 50.4ºF (10.2ºC). For the sake of warmth, many people in the precincts dressed in several layers of clothing.
Upon arriving at the Main Sanctuary after paying respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall, the Shinbashira seated himself on the dais to deliver the Service prayer. In it, the Shinbashira expressed our gratitude for the boundless providence we constantly receive from God the Parent. He went on to say: “We will observe the annual Hinokishin Day on April 29. Since this year is the year of Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary, we are aiming at drawing 500,000 participants altogether. On that day, all of us Yoboku and followers of the path will engage in hinokishin activities in high spirits so as to respond to Your blessings that enable us to borrow a body from You and live in good health. We will perform hinokishin joyously while forgetting greed so that it may contribute to constructing the Joyous Life World, for we are taught: ‘Forgetting greed we work in hinokishin. This becomes the first fertilizer [Mikagura-uta XI:4].'”
The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then joyously performed while the congregation spiritedly joined in singing the songs that accompany the Service.
Following the Service, Honbu-in Iwane Matsui took the podium to deliver his sermon. He began by sharing with the listeners his personal experiences and thoughts in conducting his pre-anniversary activities leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. Referring to a story from Anecdotes of Oyasama, “You Are to Save Others” (no. 100), Rev. Matsui emphasized that it is essential for those of us who are Yoboku to make a practice of implementing the following three points: “becoming single-hearted, letting go of our greed, and helping others be saved.” Then he added, “[I]t is extremely important to perform the morning and evening services, through which we can express our gratitude to God the Parent while chanting the name of God, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.”
After referring to the Divine Model of Oyasama, he once again stressed, “I believe that expressing our thanks for this great gift of life from God every morning and evening is our most important task.” He went on to say: “Worshiping God the Parent every morning can serve as the core of each day, and repeating it day after day can increase our joy of faith further and further. This is the way I see my practice of faith these days.”
Quoting several Ofudesaki verses (VII:37, 38, 49, 50), he explained: “Even before God the Parent’s revelation, what is termed ‘truth’ was conveyed to human beings through various people at different times in history. However, we only came to know the origin of our life itself through Oyasama’s teachings.” He then said, “Human beings are unable to produce life, and spreading the teachings really means conveying the truth that life is a gift given by God.”
In concluding his sermon, he spoke about the annual Hinokishin Day, telling the listeners: “Because this year is the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, I hope that all Yoboku and others, wherever they live, will proactively participate in Hinokishin Day, spiritedly performing acts of hinokishin to express the joy they feel at being enabled by God to be alive.”