The New Year’s Day Service of Tenrikyo headquarters, led by the Shinbashira, was held in its Main Sanctuary from 5:00 A.M. on January 1. As the temperature hovered around freezing about two hours before daybreak, the Shinbashira, along with the other performers, proceeded to the Main Sanctuary at the appointed time and ascended the dais to deliver the Service prayer. He began by thanking God for the blessings that enabled the 171st year of the Teaching to be welcomed in. He then said: “I am truly grateful that You graciously guided and protected us with Your boundless love throughout the past year as we tried to stay focused on the Divine Model, live in a way that would bring joy to Oyasama, and fulfill the tasks of the path highlighted by the season at hand. . . . I pledge that, with renewed resolve worthy of the New Year, all of us Yoboku including all church head ministers and myself will strive spiritedly to fulfill our roles–while ensuring that our footing is sure and solid and our orientation of the mind is aligned with Your intention–so that You may use us as building materials for the construction of the Joyous World.” A joyous performance of the Kagura Service and of the Dance with Hand Movements then followed, with the spirited singing voices of the followers reaffirming their pledge to strive for single-hearted salvation ringing through the Main Sanctuary while the sky gradually whitened. Following the Service, the Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to deliver a prayer to the everliving Oyasama. After offering Her his New Year’s greetings and expressing his gratitude for Her guidance received throughout the past year, he said: “Having welcomed in the New Year, we want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our determination to continue making every effort to nurture ourselves for fuller growth so as to bring joy to You while embracing ever more joy in being used as Your instruments, maintaining a clear sense of what it means to serve in that role, and always basing our thoughts and actions on Your Divine Model.” The first three days of the year saw a lively Home of the Parent with large numbers of followers returning to Jiba. The Besseki lectures started on the 2nd, when the lecture hall welcomed many families and young people among others.

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