The July Monthly Service at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters, led by the Shinbashira, was held on the 26th, two days after the end of the rainy season was announced. Signs that summer had come were abundant at the Home of the Parent, with the sun blazing brightly and cicadas blaring their boisterous song. Pilgrimage groups bearing flags and wearing matching T-shirts stood out among returning worshipers, giveaway signs that the season for the Children’s Pilgrimage to Jiba had arrived in full swing.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira touched upon this year’s Children’s Pilgrimage, saying, “Many children will be returning, looking forward to this summer event in Jiba.” He then prayed for a successful Children’s Pilgrimage, in which everything would proceed smoothly throughout its duration. He also expressed his hope that the children would get along with one another as they engaged in hinokishin and many other activities by the side of the everliving Oyasama so that their minds would be enriched with openness and cheerfulness.
After the performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements, Honbu-in Itaro Nishida delivered the sermon. He described his experience bringing Children’s Pilgrimage groups home to Jiba over twenty years, beginning in the 150th year of the Teaching and noted: “Interacting with the children made me keenly aware of how much we depend on others to help us, whether directly or indirectly, from the time we come into the world until we leave it. It made me think of all the people we are indebted to. To put it the other way around, it made me realize how many people we have made trouble for or given worries to.”
Rev. Nishida further shared his insight on childrearing, saying: “I think that parenting can be regarded as a form of training given to parents. . . . This training is very demanding, yet parents are willing to go through the hard times involved because doing so will lead to delight and happiness in the future. If we can take parenting as an opportunity to gain training and make spiritual growth, we will realize that being able to bring up children is a wonderful blessing.”
Concerning unfortunate events involving children in society at large in recent years, Rev. Nishida shared his reflections on the need to further sprinkle the fragrance and show the greatness of the path to society through implementing the teachings, which enable us to live life with joy by working with our mind alone, and he urged everyone listening to carry out these tasks. He also touched upon the competitive nature of modern society, the harmful effects of the pursuit of excessive efficiency, and the wasteful behavior resulting from material abundance. To counter these trends, he suggested, “What we should do is demonstrate the sense of gratitude, moderation, and mutual help through the way we lead our lives and impart it to those who have yet to awaken to God the Parent’s intention.”
Rev. Nishida then returned to the topic of this year’s Children’s Pilgrimage and closed his sermon by encouraging everyone: “Let all of us–including the leaders accompanying children on the pilgrimage and those who are taking care of them in Jiba–exert our full measure of sincerity in fulfilling our roles. This will most certainly bring joy to God the Parent and Oyasama.”