On January 26, the Spring Grand Service was conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with Successor-Designate Daisuke Nakayama serving as chief officiant on behalf of the Shinbashira. The Grand Service commemorates the day when Oyasama withdrew from physical life—namely, the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887. It was on that day that Oyasama, out of Her parental concern for the spiritual growth of Her children, all humankind, opened the portals of the Shrine to step out to level the ground throughout the world.
As a measure to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Church Headquarters has been urging Yoboku and other followers to refrain from attending the Monthly and Grand Services. In the meantime, Church Headquarters arranged for a limited number of designated church representatives to attend the Monthly or Grand Service in the Main Sanctuary.
Shortly before the start of the Service at 11:30 a.m., Successor-Designate Nakayama served a meal to Oyasama at the Foundress’ Sanctuary. When the appointed time came, Rev. Nakayama and other Service performers paid their respects at the Foundress’ Sanctuary and the Memorial Hall and proceeded to the Main Sanctuary, where they offered worship to God the Parent. The Shinbashira, who was seated in the South Worship Hall, joined the performers and followers in worship.
Rev. Nakayama then delivered the Service prayer. He first extended his appreciation to God the Parent for creating the world and human beings out of the desire to see our Joyous Life and share in our joy. He then expressed his gratitude for guiding us lovingly along the path that leads to the Joyous Life by becoming openly revealed through Oyasama as the Shrine upon the arrival of the Promised Time.
Continuing, he said: “Assembled before You are the Service performers and designated followers who are representing all other followers. I pray that You, God the Parent, will also become spirited by looking upon the way we express our gratitude for Your boundless daily blessings, pray for the settling of the world, and renew our resolve to make further spiritual growth.” He went on to say, “Although the world has been facing a huge challenge, we followers of the path will always live in confident reliance on Your guidance as we inherit and maintain the path that Oyasama demonstrated for us and strive to convey the teachings to as many people as possible, thereby following the path to make repayment for Your blessings.”
The prayer was followed by the joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements. The followers joined together in singing the Mikagura-uta, the songs for the Service. Following the Service, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Zensuke Nakata delivered the sermon. When the daily musical siren sounded at two o’clock, marking the time Oyasama withdrew from physical life, he interrupted his delivery to offer a prayer in the direction of the Foundress’ Sanctuary.
In his sermon, Director-in-Chief Nakata spoke about the significance of the Spring Grand Service. He said that the day of origin of this Grand Service is the huge knot of Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life and pointed out that the purpose of performing the Spring Grand Service every year is to settle Her intention firmly in our minds and rededicate ourselves to responding to it. “On this significant day, let us feel grateful for our fortunate circumstances and renew our pledge to respond to Oyasama’s parental love,” he said.
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Rev. Nakata mentioned, “It is essential for us to perceive this challenge as an opportunity to ponder deeply over the way of living leading to God’s workings that allow the path to continue through endless generations.” He then emphasized that we must increase opportunities to engage in salvation activities as we seek to make daily repayment for the blessings we receive and to contribute and dedicate our sincerity.
In relation to the work of regional churches, he stressed that they must be more proactive in seeking encounters with those who need help—those who are suffering from illnesses and other problems, including bullying, family breakups, mental disorders, addiction, social awkwardness, and a variety of issues relating to aging societies.
Rev. Nakata then called upon the listeners to increase the time spent being fully aware of being Yoboku by consciously using faith-based thoughts and words in the course of their daily life. He went on to say that Church Headquarters has been asking followers of the path to imagine an ideal state of themselves, their families, and their churches—an ideal state to strive for over the next 15 years as the Tenrikyo community moves toward the 150th Anniversary of Oyasama. He concluded his sermon by encouraging the listeners to envision a bright future as they spiritedly make solid and steady progress in the work of the path with renewed decisiveness.