Spring Grand Service 2024: Followers Resolve Firmly to Strive for Single-Hearted Salvation

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.

In the Service prayer, Rev. Nakayama first expressed his gratitude to God the Parent for becoming openly revealed by settling Oyasama as the Shrine at the arrival of the Promised Time and for guiding us toward the Joyous Life. Referring to major earthquakes that occurred on New Year’s Day, which marked the start of the second year of the current anniversary period, he said: “We take this earthquake as a stern message for all of us who are following the teachings of world salvation but are making slow progress in our spiritual growth. We are determined to thoroughly ponder over and reflect on the message and to carry out our activities of the second year with firm resolve.” Continuing, he expressed his determination by saying: “We intend to work toward the blessings that would enable those affected by the disaster to recover even a day sooner. In addition, all of us followers will devote ourselves to single-hearted salvation with our minds in unison, aiming to fulfill the resolutions that we made in anticipation of the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama.”

The prayer was followed by the joyous performance of the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements. After the Service performance, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Zensuke Nakata took the podium to deliver the sermon.

At the outset of the sermon, Rev. Nakata expressed his sympathies to those who had been affected by the earthquakes that hit the Noto Peninsula on New Year’s Day. He then moved on to speak about the intention behind the day of origin of the Spring Grand Service as well as important points we followers are to keep in mind as we strive to follow Oyasama’s Divine Model.

In elaborating his view of what it means to follow the Divine Model, Rev. Nakata quoted from the Shinbashira’s sermon delivered at last year’s Autumn Grand Service and said: “When we look at the Divine Model as the model for our everyday lives, we may tend to pay too much attention to concrete details such as how we should think about this and that or what kind of actions we should take. However, I realized that, unless we first look at Oyasama’s fifty-year Divine Model from a broader perspective, we may overlook important points.” Noting how Oyasama never gave up in any situation and continued to nurture our early predecessors, Rev. Nakata stressed the importance of keeping Oyasama’s Divine Model in mind at all times as we seek to implement single-hearted salvation.

Further, Rev. Nakata noted that the Divine Model is more than just a model to follow as it gives us hope and courage as we walk the path. He then said: “This is the path that no one else but Oyasama opened by leading us at the forefront of the path. This is the path that She demonstrated to ensure that those seeking to follow in Her footsteps could do so without difficulty. In other words, it is not that we must go where there is no path. Rather, the Divine Model will guide us no matter where we go. The Divine Model can even give us power to overcome knots or challenging situations. In that sense, it can even be said that the Divine Model is the guiding principle of life for us Yoboku.”

Moving on to speak about the knot shown to us on New Year’s Day, Rev. Nakata called on those of us who follow the path to take it seriously as our own matter. He then said, “Let us deeply ponder over God the Parent’s regret and anger with a fresh mind and work even harder on the pre-anniversary activities on behalf of the followers in the affected regions who are unable to engage in the activities so as to be able to receive God the Parent’s blessings.”

Toward the end of his sermon, Rev. Nakata referred to the Shinbashira’s New Year’s Address to emphasize that the focus is on conducting our anniversary-related activities during the period leading up to the day of the anniversary rather than on doing something in particular on that day. He concluded his sermon by saying, “Let us accept the major knot that occurred on New Year’s Day as God’s hastening and thereby sincerely engage in spreading the fragrance of the teachings and helping save others in high spirits so as to be able to receive God the Parent’s blessings.”

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