Spring Grand Service Draws 75,000 People

On January 26, some 75,000 followers, including many from overseas, attended the Spring Grand Service, which, led by the Shinbashira, took place in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo’s headquarters, commemorating the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, when Oyasama withdrew from physical life. This comes at a time when the Tenrikyo community, now looking toward the “next milestone,” is focusing efforts on what it calls the activities of ordinary times–the kind of activities that are essential at all times and should be performed in a steady and sustained way in the course of daily life. The followers used this opportunity to reaffirm their pledge to strive for the path of single-hearted salvation in their local communities and beyond by once again taking to heart Oyasama’s parental intention in shortening Her physical life by 25 years in order to hasten the spiritual growth of Her children throughout the world. By around 11:00 A.M., half an hour before the Service, the Main Sanctuary’s four worship halls as well as the Corridor connecting them to the Foundress’ Sanctuary were full, and the benches set up in the Inner Courtyard and in the area in front of the South Worship Hall were all occupied. At the appointed time, the Shinbashira and the other Service performers left the staff quarters and, after paying respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall, proceeded to the Main Sanctuary. The Shinbashira then ascended the dais to deliver the Service prayer. He began by thanking God for the blessings behind the founding and growth of the path. He then stated: “Today, as we give thought once again to the day of origin of the Spring Grand Service, all of us Yoboku, including all church head ministers and myself, reaffirm our resolve to take sure and steady steps along the path of the Divine Model so as to share joyousness in wider and wider circles, starting with anyone close at hand, while maintaining a full awareness of our own roles and positions and relying totally on the heart of Oyasama, who bestows the truth of the Sazuke on more and more people and guides us on the path of the performance of the spirited Service.” A joyous performance of the Kagura Service and of the Dance with Hand Movements then followed, with the spirited voices of the followers singing the songs accompanying the Service. After the last song, Song Twelve, came to an end, the Shinbashira stood at the lectern to deliver the sermon. A moment before 2:00 P.M.–the exact hour marking Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life–he interrupted his sermon to offer a brief prayer in the direction of the Foundress’ Sanctuary. In his sermon, he first emphasized the importance of the Service by describing how Oyasama strongly urged its implementation. The Service, he said, is the foundation of the path of single-hearted salvation. He then said that, through urging the performance of the Service, Oyasama was also stressing the need to base one’s pondering on the fundamental order of priorities indicated in the teaching that God is prior to everything else–a teaching that makes it vital to bring oneself into complete accord with the intention of God of Origin. The Shinbashira went on to say that the primary duties of Tenrikyo churches, which should serve as centers for salvation, are to perform the service and spread the teachings. Saying that the Sazuke is a precious gift from God intended to help people work for the salvation of others, he put emphasis on the need to provide new Yoboku with care and guidance to help them lay the basis that enables them to work as “useful timber” for the construction of the Joyous Life World–referring to the sort of people who can savor the joy of saving others. He added that all seminars and courses offered at Jiba are designed to help Yoboku enrich and enliven their daily lives and that the churches, which need to play a key role in nurturing and guiding Yoboku, should proactively take advantage of all such courses and events. To attend the Grand Service, some 430 followers returned to Jiba from 12 countries and regions such as the United States, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan. On the 25th through 27th, a total of 1,309 people attended the Besseki lectures (including 253 first-timers), and 114 people received the truth of the Sazuke.

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