The February Monthly Service of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was conducted on the 26th in the Main Sanctuary with the Shinbashira presiding and large numbers of followers attending in the four worship halls as well as in the surrounding precincts.
The Shinbashira and the other Service performers filed into the Main Sanctuary shortly after 9:00 a.m. amid accompanying gagaku music. The Shibashira went on to ascend the dais to lead the congregation in worship.
He then delivered the Service prayer, in which he made a resolution on behalf all Yoboku to take powerful strides in the construction of the Joyous Life World. He stated: “Deepening our reflections on our slow progress, which is preventing us from thoroughly according with Your intention to hasten world salvation during the present season, we have wholeheartedly committed ourselves to carrying out the work You have given us by inquiring ever more deeply into the truth of the teachings, by performing the Service, and by administering the Sazuke.”
The Kagura then commenced to the accompaniment of musical instruments as the followers joined in prayer for a peaceful and joyous world by singing together the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service. Following this, the Dance with Hand Movements was performed in a joyous atmosphere.
The sermon was delivered by Honbu-in Hiroyoshi Shimamura, who began by quoting a passage from the Divine Directions that had cautioned early followers against forgetting God’s “great favor” and getting caught up in “small favors.” He suggested that such blessings as release from the pain of personal and physical problems are “small favors,” and that the “great favor” refers to the daily and constant providence of God. To respond to the “great favor,” said Rev. Shimamura, means to make spiritual growth to the point where one can constantly rejoice in God’s daily providence and maintain a feeling of gratitude in the course of daily life, besides helping others do the same. In this regard, he emphasized the importance of settling in mind the truth that the human body is a thing lent by God, a thing borrowed.
He said that Tenrikyo has only been able to become what it is today because early followers were constant in their gratitude for God’s “great favor” and honestly followed the path to make repayment for it, relying solely upon the Divine Model of Oyasama. In particular, he cited the way Izo Iburi began to follow the path, saying that his faith is an example for all followers to emulate.
Rev. Shimamura urged all Yoboku to ask themselves whether the sense of joy and gratitude they felt at receiving the Sazuke still remains unchanged in them. As for those who inherited their faith after it had been handed down through some generations, he encouraged them to reflect upon themselves in light of the path followed by the first-generation followers, asking themselves whether they are upholding as their own their predecessors’ desire to make repayment for the blessings they received. “Let all of us,” he continued, “reflect on ourselves and correct whatever need be corrected so as to enable ourselves to fulfill our duties as Yoboku.” He concluded his sermon by urging his listeners to respond to the calls for all Yoboku to step up their implementation of what they have undertaken to do during the present season.