The Shinbashira led the congregation in the Spring Grand Service on January 26 at the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. His sermon stressed that now was the season for all followers to do the “foundation work in spiritual construction” in order to prepare for the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.
Great numbers of followers, including some 290 from nine countries and regions overseas, had made pilgrimages to the Home of the Parent to join together for this occasion. Since not all could be accommodated indoors, many seated themselves on benches that had been set up in the Inner Courtyard and other outdoor areas in the precincts.
After paying respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall, the Shinbashira arrived in the Main Sanctuary shortly after 11:30 a.m. along with the other Service performers and then proceeded onto the dais to deliver the Service prayer on behalf of all followers.
He first expressed gratitude to God the Parent for the profound providence in revealing the divine intention through Oyasama, the Shrine of God, and in constantly guiding all humanity to the Joyous Life. He then referred to the day commemorated by the Spring Grand Service, the day on which Oyasama had withdrawn from physical life 116 years ago in order to hasten world salvation. “This day today is an unforgettable day,” he said, “when Oyasama stepped out to level the ground of this world by shortening Her natural term of life by 25 years in order to hasten Her children’s spiritual growth.”
The Shinbashira then pledged that all followers would exert their full measure of sincerity in building the Joyous Life World. “All of us including church head ministers and Yoboku,” he said, “shall take to heart the importance of the truth of the Service. We shall devote ourselves to the performance of the Service with sincerity, and by doing so we ask that we may receive Your free and unlimited workings which will bring peace to the world.
“Furthermore, perceiving the deep parental love in the truth of the Sazuke, which has been granted to a great many followers since the opening of the portals, we are determined to dedicate our sincerity to the construction of the Joyous Life World by administering the Sazuke to as many people as possible and thus share Your precious blessings with them.”
When the Kagura began, the congregation spiritedly joined in singing the Songs for the Service to the accompaniment of musical instruments. This was followed by the Dance with Hand Movements.
At two o’clock–moments after the Dance had come to a close–a musical siren sounded, marking the time of Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life, and all the followers attending the Service offered a one-minute silent prayer to the everliving Oyasama.
The Shinbashira then took the podium to deliver his sermon. Referring to the circumstances surrounding Oyasama’s withdrawal, he first spoke about Her parental concern in urging the followers to perform the Service, which would lead to the Joyous Life. He then emphasized the importance of a unity of mind as well as of connecting and cooperating with one another in working toward the Joyous Life. With reference to the coming 120th Anniversary of Oyasama, he said that each follower must work with the mind and reflect deeply on the mind to make it suitable to engage in the anniversary activities–that is, each follower must do the foundation work in spiritual construction.