On October 26, the Autumn Grand Service was solemnly performed in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with the Shinbashira presiding. With two months remaining before the end of the year of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama–the year in which Tenrikyo is endeavoring to bring forth the fruits of its pre-anniversary activities in the form of maintaining a lively atmosphere in Jiba–some 74,000 followers from various parts of Japan as well as overseas countries reflected upon the Teaching’s Day of Origin and resolved to take a new step forward toward the next milestone.
At 8:00 A.M.–the very hour when Oyasama became the Shrine of Tsukihi–the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, left the Church Headquarters Staff Quarters to pay respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall. He then proceeded to the Main Sanctuary and ascended the dais. Following a brief silence after the strains of gagaku music ended, he delivered the Service prayer, in which he first expressed gratitude for God the Parent’s deep parental heart and boundless blessings. He then said: “Assembled before You are a great number of followers of the path who are putting the finishing touches to their activities befitting this anniversary year and who have returned here from both within this country and from overseas, having looked forward to this day. I pray that You, God the Parent, look upon the way they express their gratitude for Your daily blessings and lean on You while singing the Songs for the Service spiritedly and single-heartedly and that You, too, become spirited.”
The Shinbashira went on to say, “Reflecting upon the current season and the steps we have taken thus far, setting ourselves a new goal, and making a firm resolution, we Service performers as well as church head ministers and Yoboku are firmly resolved to take ever more powerful strides in advancing world salvation–a mission You referred to as ‘endless construction’–and, in order to make a fresh start in this regard, we will be making personnel changes at Church Headquarters.” He closed his prayer by saying: “Please continue to guide us with Your boundless parental love so that we may reconstruct the world–in which many people have difficulty in finding a way out of the morass of confusion–as the Joyous Life World even a day sooner, whereby all people help and respect one another.”
The weather early in the morning was cold enough to make one’s breath visible, giving a hint of autumn in the air. When the morning service was over, however, rays of sunshine streamed through the thin clouds. The Home of the Parent was blessed with warm and pleasant weather by the time the Kagura and the Dance with Hand Movements were performed following the prayer. The congregation, filling the four worship halls and the Sanctuary precincts, spiritedly joined in singing the songs for the Service.
After the performance of the Dance with Hand Movements, the Shinbashira took the podium to deliver his sermon, in which he expressed his appreciation for the efforts that church head ministers and Yoboku had been devoting to the missionary and salvation work in the lead-up to the anniversary as well as to the promotion of pilgrimages to Jiba during the anniversary year. He then explained how we should spend the remaining two months of this year and spoke about the attitude that would enable us to take the next step forward. Referring to the fact that this day fell upon the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Japanese edition of The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, he stressed the importance of studying and implementing the Divine Model of Oyasama in our daily lives.
Waves of pilgrimage groups returned to Jiba for the Autumn Grand Service. Among them were groups from overseas, comprising 1,421 followers from 21 countries and regions, including the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Australia, the U.K., New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Thailand, and Indonesia. From October 25 to 27, a total of 3,077 people attended the Besseki lectures, of whom 787 were first-timers, and 284 followers received the truth of the Sazuke, the Divine Grant.