The December Monthly Service of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was conducted in the Main Sanctuary on the 26th with the Shinbashira presiding as chief officiant. Many followers returned to Jiba to express their gratitude for the blessings they had received throughout the year.
In the Service prayer, the Shinbashira paid special attention to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. “All of us have been pondering over the meaning behind this disaster while asking ourselves whether or not we had been able to live up to Your intention. We have since exerted our utmost efforts in the hope that we will be able to receive blessings that will allow buds to sprout from knots,” he said, adding, “We are truly grateful that You have guided us through the path toward further spiritual growth with warm parental love.” He continued: “Reflecting upon the steps we have taken during this year, we Service performers as well as church head ministers and other Yoboku are determined to further devote ourselves to the path of single-hearted salvation in the coming year for those who are suffering from troubles and calamities by performing the Service and administering the Sazuke. We are thus resolved to take steady steps forward on the path of world salvation by devoting our sincerity in unity of mind.”
The Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements were then performed joyously. On this day, the mild sunshine occasionally illuminated the Home of the Parent, which had been severely cold until the previous day. The followers joined together in singing the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service.
Honbu-in Yoshihiko Yasuno then took the podium to deliver the sermon. Referring to the fact that the past year has been marked by a series of unprecedented natural disasters including the March 11 quake and tsunami, he said, “When we think about those living in disaster-hit regions, those of us who have not been directly affected by the disasters should perceive those incidents as guidance from God the Parent, correct the use of our minds by searching our souls, seek the spirit of single-hearted salvation as demonstrated by Oyasama, and work hard for the cause of the path by bringing our minds together.”
In explaining that complete trust in God is the cornerstone of the Tenrikyo faith, he quoted Oyasama’s words from a story in Anecdotes of Oyasama—“A Snowy Day” (no. 44): “Oh, I am so glad to see you have come. God the Parent lent a hand to bring you home. You had a hard time, slipping at many places. However, you were joyful. Sah, sah, God the Parent accepts fully, fully. Whatever you ask, it is accepted. God protects you. Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it!” He then said that we can walk on the path joyously as long as we maintain the mind of joy while completely trusting Oyasama in any circumstances we may face.
Moreover, he cited some passages from Anecdotes of Oyasama to explain how early followers engaged in missionary work and salvation work as a way to express their gratitude for the blessings they received. He then moved on to talk about the importance of the Service. “My hope is that we will always seek to receive the truth of the Parent by performing the service and thereby show by example the joy of faith in a confident manner to those around us—whether it be at work or in our local communities,” said Honbu-in Yasuno, stressing the importance of trying to become a person who can put into practice the truth of the teachings in a way that convinces others.
Toward the end of the sermon, Honbu-in Yasuno quoted a passage from the Shinbashira’s sermon delivered at the Autumn Grand Service. After stating that the next year would be an important year from which to set out for a new milestone, he said: “We may be unconsciously led astray to look for an easy way simply out of habit while taking for granted the blessings we receive in our everyday lives. Let us critically reflect upon ourselves and renew our resolve as we usher in the new year.”