New Year’s Day marked the beginning of the 163rd year of the Teaching. In response to the resolutions made at last year’s ‘”District Lectures for Yoboku: Action and Progress.,” this new year is expected to be a momentous year in which all Yoboku will “take action” to implement the spirit of Instruction One in their daily lives and “make progress” toward world salvation. In addition, since the year 2000 marks the start of a new millennium, there is also a worldwide awareness that this year represents a threshold to a new stage of human development.
To celebrate the start of this new year and renew our pledge to work toward world salvation, the New Year’s Day Service was joyously performed in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters on the morning of January 1. It was still dark outside when the throngs of followers including many families assembled for the Service, which began at 5:00 a.m.
The Service commenced with the Shinbashira’s prayer to God the Parent. Expressing our gratitude for the many blessings we received during the previous year, the Shinbashira said: “During the past year, our desire to make a new start motivated us to seek the truth of the teachings single-heartedly and to keep our minds firmly focused on Oyasama’s Divine Model in the course of accomplishing our given tasks. We are deeply grateful for the gracious expressions of Your parental heart which safely guided us throughout the year. On this day marking the beginning of a new year, we wish to express our deep gratitude for those many blessings we received, as well as beseech You to lead us safely through this new year also.
“We Yoboku are meeting this new year with fresh thoughts and with renewed resolve to fulfill the tasks demanded by this seasonable time, and we are committed to hastening our steps toward spiritual maturity and the construction of the world of the Joyous Life. We ask to be guided by Your unchanging parental heart, so that all of us Yoboku may take delight in this ultimate teaching, apply ourselves to the Service that You arranged for us to perform, and join together in moving along the broad path of world salvation.”
The year’s first Service—including both the Kagura and the Dance with Hand Movements—was then performed spiritedly. The joyous sounds of the Service echoed throughout the precincts as darkness gave way to dawn.
Following the performance of the Service, the Shinbashira, accompanied by the other Service performers, proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary, where he greeted the everliving Oyasama, saying: “Oyasama, we wish You a happy new year. Today, at the beginning of this new year, we are renewing our commitment to serve as Your instruments in the task of single-hearted salvation.”