Tenrikyo Church Headquarters conducted the Spring Grand Service of the 163rd year of the Teaching on January 26 from 11:30 a.m. with the Shinbashira presiding. From this year, the commencement time of the Spring Grand Service was changed from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. so that the Service would end right before two o’clock in the afternoon, the time when Oyasama withdrew from physical life.
Attended by about 65,000 followers who had returned to Jiba, the Service commemorated the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, the day on which Oyasama withdrew from physical life by shortening the term of Her physical life by 25 years out of the deep parental love that sought to hasten the spiritual growth of all humankind, whom She referred to as “My beloved children.”
The Grand Service commenced with the Shinbashira’s reading of the prayer to God the Parent on behalf of all followers. He began the prayer by thanking God the Parent for the free and unlimited workings shown in guiding and nurturing us. He then said, “By reaffirming Oyasama’s parental intention on this day, we would like to conduct the annual Spring Grand Service by performing the Kagura and the Teodori, with the minds of all Service performers united into one.” He also reaffirmed the deep and profound heart of the Parent, who opened the portals so that many followers could receive the truth of the Sazuke in the cause of universal salvation, and then resolved to promote the path of single-hearted salvation toward the Joyous Life through the performance of the Service as well as the truth of the Sazuke.
The Kagura Service was then performed—reenacting God’s human creation, which had been motivated by the desire to see the Joyous Life of all humankind—while the followers joined together in singing the songs for the Service spiritedly. The Kagura Service was followed by the Teodori, the Dance with Hand Movements, which was taught as a vivid representation of the Joyous Life in this world.
Five minutes before two o’clock, the performance of the Teodori came to a close. At two o’clock, when the music siren began to sound, all the followers who filled the Inner Courtyard stood up, turned toward the Foundress’ Sanctuary, and offered one minute of silent prayer to Oyasama.
During the prayer, followers thought of Oyasama, who is everliving as taught in the Osashizu passage that was delivered on the day She withdrew from physical life: “God has opened the portals and stepped out. Because of My love for you, My children, the Parent shortened Her life by twenty-five years to step out and save the world from now. Observe well. Observe well what the path has been and what the path will become.” (January 26, 1887, lunar calendar)
After the silent prayer, the Shinbashira began to deliver the sermon. He called upon all followers to reconfirm that the significance of commemorating the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, lies in the completion of the Service so that God the Parent will become spirited as well as in renewing their pledge to follow the path in response to the parental love by pondering over the Divine Model and pursuing the intention of Oyasama. He thus pointed out that the day was an occasion not for mourning or sorrowing over the past but for making a resolve to live as an instrument of Oyasama.
Further, the Shinbashira emphasized the importance of the Service, stating that the fifty-year Divine Model of Oyasama, in a sense, represents the process of completing the Service. After explaining the truth of the Sazuke, which is bestowed upon us by virtue of the truth of the everliving Oyasama and Her parental love, he asked all Yoboku to maintain an awareness of being Yoboku and strive to sow the seeds for the Joyous Life, beginning with their own communities, so as to make the “District Lectures for Yoboku: Action and Progress” truly meaningful by bringing forth the tangible fruits of these lectures.