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Greeting

August 22, 2020 (Tenrikyo 183)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

“Don’t be bound to assumptions and let’s deepen our careful consideration of the truth.”

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

When I was a young child, my uncle, Rev. Yoshiharu Katayama, taught me shogi. Perhaps owing to that, when I lived in the United States, I won the class chess tournament in 6th grade. Chess and shogi have similar rules.

Due to such experiences, I was very interested in the shogi grand champion title match that took place the other day between Master Sota Fujii and Grand Champion Kazuki Kimura.

Today, I would like to talk about assumptions.

I think everyone has assumptions such as, “My Sazuke won’t work anyway,” or “my physical make-up doesn’t allow me to lose weight,” or “it’s better not to call Hanshin fans on the day their team loses.”

Ordinarily, in order to win in shogi, one tries not to get their strong pieces taken. An example of that is the “hisha.” However, Master Fujii sacrifices his hisha, the strongest piece on the board, in exchange for a gin.

Normally, if one loses his hisha, one feels that “I have lost this match.” I would probably get discouraged, thinking “that’s it.” However, although it seems disadvantageous, Master Fujii makes use of his remaining pieces and slowly gains the upper hand. Perhaps Master Fujii already saw far, far ahead.

I reflected upon myself that I may have been, perhaps, worrying about the future, getting swayed away by making assumptions, thinking, “Maybe this is not possible. I don't think this is going to work,” and fall short to make an important first move and/or seasonal moves on situations presented before me.

Without getting caught up in making assumptions, I want to deepen my thoughts on the truth contained within and even if I fall short on the first move, I want to become a Yoboku who can still firmly make the second and the third move.

Especially during these uncertain times, let us extend our point of view, stay positive, and keep on making moves that enable us to live joyously.

Thank you very much.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

August 22, 2020 (Tenrikyo 183)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

“Because of God, Because of Faith”

Rev. Tatsuo Okumura
Grand Church Associate Board Member

Rev.tatsuoOkumura

(Summary)

Since I was born, my church has always been poor. In the past, as well as the present, we have always been penniless. In the course of my 65-year life, for 50 years since my father’s time we have always lived at this house.

During my childhood, we never had a television. Our meals never consisted of white rice, instead we had boiled barley and rice. In the past barley was cheap, and until now, we never bought a car.

If someone asked, “Mr. Okumura, are you happy being a follower of Tenrikyo?” I probably may not be able to proudly admit I am.

However on the other hand, if someone said, “Mr. Okumura, because you are a follower of Tenrikyo, you are living a considerably unhappy life.” I could probably answer, “That’s not true. I am living quite a happy life.”

Then if asked the reason why, the first thing I could say is that the bodies my family and I borrow from God are being kept extremely fit and healthy.

Ever since I can remember until now, I have never had a major illness. I have never been admitted into a hospital nor have had a surgery before.

Up until now, the only time I have been sick was during my Seinen service at Honjima Grand Church when I wasn’t able to move about freely for about 10 days due to lower back pain.

From then on, for more than 30 years, I have never had a fever. I remember when my daughter was 2 years old, she came down with influenza, and the whole family had high fevers, but I was the only one who did not get sick. All and all, I don’t recall ever being sick from a serious illness.

This is the main reason why I believe I’m blessed for following this faith.

As I mentioned earlier, I have never been seriously ill that I can remember, however when I was 11 months old, I came down with pneumonia and was near death with a high fever. When I was a child, I heard this many times from my mother.

“Tatsuo, you had terrible pneumonia when you were 11 months old. Your father rushed to Honsetsu Branch Church by bicycle for a prayer service with all the cash we had. I took you to Saitoh Clinic, and the doctor said to me, ‘I will give him this injection but please give up on his life if this doesn’t work.’ Around the time the doctor was administering the injection, the prayer service for you was being performed. The medicine worked and you were saved.”

My mother says that this could only have been God’s work. If I weren’t saved at the time, I would have passed away for rebirth without even realizing that I was born into this world. For me, it is like I was born to cause grief for my father and mother.

Every time I revisit this story, I feel happy for being kept alive healthily because of God and my parents.

To come to think of it, my parents lost their parents early. I have never met any of my grandparents. From what I heard, all four of them had lung disease.

However, I believe it was due to their faith—my father lived to be 80 years old and my mother lived to be 89 years old. They were blessed with longevity, and before they passed away for rebirth, my father was blessed with nine grandchildren and my mother was blessed with two additional great-grandchildren.

Thanks to God, I am also blessed with a wife and two children, and although our church is small, we all live comfortably with my youngest brother. For this, I am very thankful and happy.

Currently, the whole world, including Japan, is in a chaotic state with Covid-19 pandemic. However, let us pray to God the Parent so that we can overcome this knot even a day sooner, and for the upcoming 120th Anniversary of the grand church, let us bring as many people as possible and let us work united in mind so that we can bring delight to the Shinbashira, Mrs. Nakayama, Mr. and Mrs. Daisuke Nakayama who will be attending the Anniversary as honorable guests.

Thank you for your kind attention

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

July 22, 2020 (Tenrikyo 183)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

Let’s follow the path as we enjoy the journey toward the Joyous Life

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

We refer to Tenrikyo as “The Path.” Why a “path?”

This is just my thinking but, for one, similar to kendo, judo or sado (tea ceremony), the dedication to mastering the teachings lasts throughout your life.

Also, a path is a path because people walk on it. If people do not use it, it no longer is a path. Oyasama showed us the Path of the Divine Model so that we would walk this path.

Further, what has really clicked in my mind recently is the meaning of the phrase, “on the path.”

For example, when we were in school and if it were the day before a school trip, before we left we would be excited in anticipation. Some would not be able to sleep the night before due to their excitement. And before we even reached the destination, the trip along the way was exciting as well. Having an enjoyable time with others on the way to our destination, this is what I think best describes “the Path” and how we follow it.

As we point ourselves toward the world of the Joyous Life, we may perhaps be faced with hardships or lose our way at times, but this may be necessary for those of us on this path. We will find later that because of the path we followed, we were able to find the joy and be shown the blessings from God the Parent.

I hope to walk the path with all of you, as we together enjoy the path toward the Joyous Life.

Next, I would like to go over the document that we received from the Church Headquarters, titled “The faith activities complying with the preventive measures for the new coronavirus”.

* About pilgrimages to Jiba:

To prevent overcrowd, please return to Jiba in small groups, such as only with family members or a small group of church members. Also, please make arrangements to separate group pilgrimage trips so that the people return to Jiba spread throughout the month, instead of everyone returning to Jiba on the monthly service day at the Church Headquarters.

Also, from July, the prayer service will be held at noon at the Main Sanctuary on Saturdays, Sundays and on national holidays (except the monthly service day), with the wooden clappers. Please make plans to attend.

* In regards to attending the monthly service at the Church Headquarters

Until the end of this year, local church head ministers will be allowed to enter inside the Main Sanctuary to attend the monthly services at the Church Headquarters as a representative of Yoboku and followers.

From July to December, Honjima Grand Church has been given 27 to 28 ministers a month. The ministers who are entering inside the sanctuary are required to wear kyofuku-robe and a face covering.

General worshippers are not allowed to enter inside the Worship Halls, but they can enter the Inner Courtyard of the Church Headquarters.

* In regards to “nurturing” at a church

Regarding mission visits to subordinate churches and fellowships as well as visiting church members’ homes, please perceive this “knot” we have been shown as an opportunity to take a fresh look at the conventional way of conducting mission visits and visiting the church members for spiritual guidance. When planning the visits, please revisit and review the real purpose of visiting members to give spiritual guidance.

Also awareness of the infection prevention measure varies from region to region. Therefore, when you are planning the visit, please respect the emotional anxiety of virus infection by those who are receiving your visit.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

July 22, 2020 (Tenrikyo 183)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

Let us pray in earnest for the resolution of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Rev.Yasunari Ito
Grand Church Associate Board Member

Rev.YasunariIto

(Summary)

Just now we have performed the July monthly service of the 183rd Year of the Teachings with our Grand Church Head Minister as the core and with minds united. This is an occasion of mutual rejoicing. As I have been assigned to deliver the sermon, may I have your attention for a while?

In Japan, due to the spread of the Coronavirus, we were asked to restrict non-essential and non-urgent activities. At local churches, conducting monthly services in a way that we had never done before was required.

At my church in Nishinomiya, in order to prevent droplet infection, we decided to perform the service without using our voice and so, we used the Third Shinbashira’s Mikagura-Uta CD. Also, we take a 10-minute break in between the first and second half of the service to ventilate, and in order not to worry our neighbors about congregating, we play the instruments softly. We are experiencing things we have never experienced before.

Regarding infectious diseases, in the times when Oyasama was physically present, there was smallpox and cholera.

In the Ofudesaki, Part 14 verse 22, we read:

The world is saying that it is cholera,
but it is Tsukihi informing you of the regret.
Ofudesaki XIV:22

The Parental heart of God the Parent works out of the desire that humankind will live helping one another, thereby living the joyous life, and by seeing this God hopes to share in that joy.

However, we are presently accumulating dusts of the mind by living with self-centered minds – with a thought that all is well if the present is well for the self alone. Here, we are taught, what results is due to the regret of God the Parent in the form of disorders.

In the Ofudesaki, we read:

From now on, firmly replace the mind
and become the mind of joyousness.
Ofudesaki: XIV:24

In this verse we are taught that God the Parent will take care of everything and we are being urged to firmly replace our minds to that which is full of joyousness.

Now at our church, my wife and I have mothers, who are 93 and 88 years old respectively, living together with us.

I fear being infected by the Corona Virus. However, they are abundantly receiving the blessings of God the Parent, and I am truly overjoyed and grateful that they are living daily brimming with joy.

A new way of everyday life is required, and the social interaction that we have been used to has now become social distancing which is a new norm where we must stay away from each other. Nonetheless, I think there should be various ways to reach out to others’ hearts.

Let us pray for people to be saved and for the containment of this Corona Virus crisis by performing the service wholeheartedly every day, and work every day joyously with a spirited and joyful mind.

Rev. Kanta Katayama stated in his sermon in January this year, “Two years later, we will have the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church. We would like to aim for the Commemorative Service in a way that everyone looks forward to and wanting so much to attend. For that purpose, let us do our best to have all the followers who return for the anniversary be the cast of this festivity and enjoy the anniversary as their own.”

Through this worldwide crisis, let us realize that we are not able to do the things we have been able to do before the pandemic, which we had been taking it for granted but everything is indeed the blessing of God the Parent. Let us settle this in our minds and make progress toward our spiritual growth. By doing so, let us conduct the upcoming anniversary together with all of us who are associated with Honjima in joyful and spirited mind.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

June 22, 2020 (Tenrikyo 183)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

Let Us Continue to Make Strides in Nearing the Intention of the Parent

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

In Instruction Two, the Shinbashira indicates that, "Spiritual growth refers to the process of nearing the intention of the Parent."

Let us all make daily efforts in taking strides to near the intention of the Parent more today than yesterday, and more tomorrow than today.

We are taught that the Kanrodai was placed at the Jiba of Origin as the proof of human conception and represents the truth of human creation and growth.

I would like to talk about my own personal interpretation of the shape of the Kanrodai and the truth of spiritual growth.

There are 13 tiers in the Kanrodai. The very bottom tier is the largest with a diameter of about 35.4 inches. This tier represents the sincere seeds sown by God the Parent.

The diameter of the second tier from the bottom is about 28.4 inches. This tier represents the 50-year path taken by Oyasama to demonstrate the Divine Model.

Above that are 10 tiers. Each has a diameter of about 14.2 inches. I believe that they represent humankind’s path of spiritual maturity. I hope that we can constantly proceed upward in an effort to near the intention of the Parent.

The upper-most tier with a diameter of about 28.4 inches is the stand upon which a flat vessel is to be placed to receive the Food from Heaven.

In the Ofudesaki, we are taught:

On whom do you think the Food of Heaven is to be bestowed?
It is to be bestowed on the Parent who began this world.
(Ofudesaki IX: 61)

This verse refers to Oyasama, who has the divine truth of God the Parent, who began this world.

Our progress toward spiritual growth has as its foundation the sincerity of God the Parent and the path of the Divine Model of Oyasama. I would like us to work diligently while keeping in mind that Oyasama always looks over the progress of our spiritual growth.

We are taught that “Spiritual growth refers to the process of nearing the intention of the Parent.” That process refers to “our service to God,” in particular, the Service and the Sazuke. In other words, it is salvation work. Now, I would like to share with you my thoughts on salvation work.

About 100 years ago in 1918, the Spanish flu became a worldwide pandemic. In Japan, the flu infected about 23,800,000 people and took the lives of 390,000 people from 1918 to 1921. The population of Japan back then was about 55,960,000, so it means 42 percent of the Japanese population was infected with the Spanish flu.

In comparison, as of today, about 18,000 people contracted the Covid-19 coronavirus and about 1,000 lives were lost here in Japan. In other words, one hundred years ago, as many as 390 times more people lost their lives compared to today’s pandemic.

During such a major knot, the plans for Oyasama’s 40th Anniversary were announced in 1921. I believe that our predecessors were filled with a fervent passion to "engage in salvation work with faith in the everliving Oyasama."

Two years later, in 1923, there was another big knot—the Great Kanto earthquake, which took the lives of roughly 100,000 people.

Following such major knots, the number of lay ministers as well as local churches doubled by the time of Oyasama’s 40th Anniversary in 1926.

I think it is due to the fruit of our predecessors efforts, who devoted themselves in salvation work in the midst of a large worldwide knot.

Even 100 years after the Spanish flu pandemic, the threat of infection by this present virus has not changed.

Let us devote ourselves in salvation work as instruments of Oyasama.

However, the number one preventative measure to avoid infection is to not make contact, so it would be difficult to administer the Sazuke.

Luckily, in current times, even though we cannot meet someone in person, we can exchange information over the Internet and empathize with them and relay our thoughts. We should be able to listen to people’s stories over the Internet and smooth out the wrinkles of their mind.

We are taught in the Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Service:

As I hasten to save all of you equally,
I will set out to cheer up all the minds of the world. (Yorozuyo)

God the Parent’s divine workings become manifest when our minds are spirited, so we should feel the Parental love of God the Parent and Oyasama daily, nurture our mind to carry out salvation work, pray for the salvation of others every day, and trust in God as we serve our duties.

By carrying out things with a spirited mind, surely, joy will come to us.

Let us do our best!

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

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