The September Monthly Service was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on the 26th with the Shinbashira presiding. The morning was cool with a light breeze, and the red dragonflies hovering around in the Inner Courtyard added to the feeling that autumn was quickly approaching.
At 9:00 A.M. the Shinbashira and the other Service performers left the Staff Quarters to offer worship at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall before proceeding to the Main Sanctuary.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira expressed gratitude for the blessings constantly provided by God the Parent. He then said: “Autumn, the harvest season, is already upon us. Our activities, which we have been carrying out during this year of Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary so as to bring joy to Oyasama by enhancing the lively atmosphere in Jiba, should also culminate in a plentiful harvest. We are determined to follow this path ever more spiritedly so that we can reap a harvest that befits this season.” Referring to the upcoming Tenrikyo Nioigake Day, he said, “We would like to convey the truth, which God the Parent taught us out of concern over our dreadful and dangerous path that lay ahead, to the hearts of people throughout the world with our minds in unison so that we can advance the path of salvation.”
The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then performed joyously. The congregation seated in the four worship halls, Corridor, Inner Courtyard, and surrounding precincts joined in single-heartedly singing the songs for the Service.
Following the Service, Honbu-in Toshimi Imamura took the podium to deliver the sermon. With the Autumn Memorial Service taking place the following day, Rev. Imamura saw this occasion as a fitting one to recall the footsteps of the predecessors of the path. He began by saying, “I would like to focus my talk on some of the footsteps and achievements of the Honseki, Izo Iburi, which can serve as an exemplary model for all of us following the path today.”
He continued by tracing the steps of the Honseki’s faith. “Oyasama’s 50-year Divine Model,” he said, “is the path to the Joyous Life that the Parent personally walked in order to demonstrate the teachings to Her children. In comparison, the path walked by the Honseki is the exemplary model of a child, or a Yoboku of God the Parent, who was implementing the teachings exactly as taught by the Parent, honestly and single-mindedly. It is a familiar model from which we would do well to learn.”
He then spoke on the contributions the Honseki made toward the construction of the Place for the Service, as recorded in chapter four of The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, and continued by speaking on the unexpected knot generally referred to as the Oyamato Shrine incident, saying, “Thinking that doing just as instructed by Oyasama had resulted in a terrible situation, the members who had not long before joined the faith dropped out; however, since the Honseki’s wife had been saved from the brink of death, and since he was only making repayment for the blessing they had already received, the Honseki must have felt that dropping out of the construction would not be an option, no matter what happened.
“Reflecting upon our spiritual life,” he continued, “don’t we tend to expect something in return from God for our deeds, thinking that we have done this many good deeds already or we have made this much contribution? However, the true and real faith in this path is not the kind of faith where we expect something in return from God for what we have done. Everything we do is done in the spirit of making repayment for the blessings we have already received. I believe that expecting something in return from God is equivalent to thinking that God is somehow indebted to us for our deeds. Because our faith is about making repayment for the blessings we have already received, feeling joy and being grateful for an opportunity to express our appreciation is the correct attitude of hinokishin. We can learn about what genuinely constitutes hinokishin through the Honseki’s attitude exemplified in his contribution and dedication toward the construction of the Place for the Service.”
He concluded his talk by saying: “In comparison to the early days in the history of this path, the trend of the times has changed dramatically and we now find ourselves privileged in all aspects of our daily life. However, the manner of dedicating our minds to the path so that we can bring joy to God the Parent and Oyasama and have our sincerity accepted by them should remain the same as before. . . . Let us walk the path of making spiritual growth by allowing the footsteps of the Honseki, Izo Iburi, to serve as an accessible and familiar model for our lives of faith.”