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Monthly Sermon

January 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

Focusing on performing the service with a unity of mind,
Conducting one-on-one salvation work

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.kantaKatayama

(Summary)

We have welcomed the 184th year of Tenrikyo—Happy New Year! God the Parent will probably show us various things as we strive for spiritual growth again this year, but I hope that we can encourage one another, lift one another up and advance in a unity of minds. I ask for your cooperation.

On January 4th this year, the Shinbashira gave us the following words:

“If it were not for the workings of God, we could not make any progress in our mission. From this point of view, it is of prime importance for us to firmly and straightforwardly settle the teachings in our minds in order to have God work for us.”

In Kyudo, Japanese archery, there is a phrase, “seisha hicchu (true shooting, certain hitting)” This means proper posture in shooting will certainly lead you to hit the bull’s eye, which teaches us, in order to achieve a successful result, one should focus on shooting property instead of focusing on hitting the target.

I believe we can apply this to our faith—instead of seeking successful results, we should check to see if we are using our mind in accordance with Oyasama’s teachings. If we are able to use our mind correctly, we will certainly see a successful outcome and get closer to the Joyous Life World.

Presently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are unable to participate in activities and events that we were having previously. I think God the Parent is telling us, “I will take charge of activities and events for a little while.” So, what should we do?

It is the “Service.” It is imperative to perform the service just as taught by Oyasama and in a way to realize the profound intentions of God the Parent.

Also, it is “Salvation.” Especially since we cannot participate in activities or hold events, we should focus our efforts on face-to-face, one-on-one salvation work.

In the Shinbashira’s words on January 4th, he pointed out,

“No matter how much missionary work is done, if we fall short in our efforts to nurture followers, it will not do. We must nurture them steadily. It was something that always had to be done, but I think that as time went by, such efforts had become neglected.”

Perhaps it is thoughtfulness that is necessary when nurturing someone one-on-one. God the Parent will momentarily take care of the events. Instead of just having the person participate in the event, please take on the responsibility of nurturing the person on a one-on-one basis. I strongly feel that we are being told to do so in this manner.

Although the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church, scheduled on May 21 next year, is gradually approaching, I have no idea how the Covid-19 pandemic will be like around that time. I also don’t know whether or not we can conduct the anniversary in the way we had done in the past.

One thing I keep in mind is the Divine Direction that is included in the Goals for Spiritual Maturity:

“If you bind yourselves together in a unity of minds, I shall provide any blessings for you.” (Osashizu: January 19, 1898)

I think there are many ways to unite our minds as one, but I would like us to start by aiming to be united in mind at the worship hall of the church.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, we will have to keep wearing masks and may have to refrain from singing out loud. Yet, I would like us to sing the Mikagura-uta together even if we have to use a small tone while wearing masks. Let us unite our minds for the anniversary and make progress in our effort in repaying the blessings we receive.

Thank you for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

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

The year of 80th Anniversary since Honjima was promoted to a grand church—Let’s make next year the year of “Sah!”

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

Time flies and it’s already December. This will be my final greeting of the year.

Eighty years ago, in 1940, Honjima was promoted to a grand church from a branch church.

The dedication service for a grand church promotion was conducted on May 14, 1941. The night before the dedication service, a new shrine was installed in the memorial hall and the first Shinbashira’s memorial tablet was enshrined by the second Shinbashira.

At the reception afterwards, the 2nd Shinbashira said, “bring me a writing brush” and he took the brush and wrote the following words on a folding screen—“Sah, sah because Tsukihi exists, the world exists. Because the world exist, thing exist. Because things exist, your bodies exist. Because your bodies exist, law exists. Although the law exists, to resolve your minds is primary.”

The late Rev. Takaji Nagao, told us this story.

On the occasion of the grand church promotion, when Honjima was to shoulder a tremendous responsibility, the 2nd Shinbashira wrote above Divine Direction.

The foundations of everything is the truth of Tsukihi, God the Parent, and let us always keep in mind the order of such divine principle.

I’d like to make next year the year of “Sah!” In the Osashizu, the Divine Directions, most of the divine instructions begin with the words, “Sah, sah.” So to speak, it’s God the Parent’s way of getting the attention of us human beings.

It also can be said that these are words of encouragement for us to connect with. “Let’s do it!”

We have one year and five months until the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church.

I’m not sure what the situation will be in regards to COVID-19, however, for those of us who follow the teachings of Oyasama, I hope we continue on our path of spiritual development in making the Joyous World a reality.

Sah, sah, let us all move forward with united hearts.

Thank you for your service this past year.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

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

“Become a person with a gentle heart”—Words to live by in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic

Rev.Shinjiro Hirai
Grand Church Board Member

Rev.shinjiroHirai

(Summary)

I am very grateful that we were able to perform the last monthly service of the year spiritedly with our grand church head minister as the chief officiant and with all of you.

I would like to attempt to deliberate on the divine will regarding this Coronavirus situation that we are dealing with at this time.

In the Ofudesaki, we read:

Whatever I do to the body, it is not an illness but the care of Tsukihi.
The world is saying that it is cholera, but it is Tsukihi informing you of the regret.
Everywhere in the world, people are the same: they only have depressed minds.
(Ofudesaki XIV:21, 22, 23)

The cholera epidemic should not be thought of just in terms of a widespread disease, but we must understand the divine intention behind it. People around the world are all the same that we continue to accumulate dust in our minds, making our mind gloomy. I believe God is urging us to live by God’s teachings, replace our minds firmly, and to become of a mind full of joy as we follow the path.

In those days, it was cholera, but I think the same can been said to the situation with the present-day Covid-19 pandemic. God the Parent desires that people of the world replace our minds.

What, then, is the way God the Parent expects us to use our minds? Let us look into Ofudesaki and Mikagura-Uta.

Out of 1,711 Ofudesaki verses, there are as many as 328 verses that include the word, “kokoro,” the “mind.” “The mind of God,” “the mind of Tsukihi” or “the mind of the Parent” are the most frequently used phrases that we see, in 56 verses. There are many other phrases such as, “spirited mind,” “make the distinction clear in their minds,” or “resolve the mind”.

To summarize these verses with the word “mind,” God the Parent always desires to save entire human beings, so God wishes people to come closer to the mind of God. If you are able to replace your mind, God will take charge of any salvation, and provide you with a rich harvest as well. Or better yet, if you are able to develop the mind to save others, God will provide you with free and unlimited blessings. Illnesses and other problems are not shown to you just because God wants to make you suffer or distress, but rather, God wants you to replace your mind. Therefore, whatever may happen, seek the will of God the Parent deeply. The Ofudesaki is concluded with the following verse,

I earnestly request each and everyone of you
to ponder deeply over these teachings.
(Ofudeaki XVII:75)

Next, in Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Service, there are 26 verses that contain the word “mind.” The movement is both palms facing inward touching the chest. The word “heart” appears in several verses and both hands also touch the chest.

At the beginning of Section 4, the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo, begins with the following verse:

Looking all over the world and through all ages, I find no one who understands My heart.

The interpretation is, “since the original creation until today, I have looked over the entire world searching the hearts of everyone, but I have found no one pure of heart who understands the will of the Parent.”

Then lastly, Yorozuyo concludes with the following verse:

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

The interpretation is, “God the Parent desires save all people of the world immediately. So from the standpoint of single-hearted salvation, I will make the minds of all the people in the world be spirited.”

On the other hand, what is the state of a human mind? In the Mikagura-uta it says:

Human minds are so deeply doubtful. (Song 6)

The human mind cannot understand truth easily. (Song 10).

These verses mean, “It is difficult to comprehend the human mind because it does not attempt to see all of God the Parent’s blessing due to the mind being encompassed by suspicion and doubt.”

God the Parent provided humankind with the free use of the mind, which proved to be troublesome because God the Parent struggles to get us closer to the mind of God. God the Parent could be thinking, “Ah, messed up on that one”.

God the Parent has thoroughly taught us how to use the mind through the Joyous Service. God the Parent has also taught us what to keep in the hearts of the Yoboku through the Kakisage that we receive when we receive the Grant of the Sazuke. In summary in order, they are “A Thing Lent, A Thing Borrowed,” “Mind of Sincerity,” and a “Mind to Save Others.”

After learning about the “mind” from the Scriptures, I have come to Oyasama’s words in the Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo.

“Become a person with a gentle heart. Save other people. Change your habits and temperaments.”

I believe that the mind of Oyasama is the key for bringing the end to the circumstances occurring all across the world right now.

First, starting from our families, then from churches, I would like us to make effort to carry out these three teachings.

Due to uncertainty from Covid-19 pandemic, the minds of people are exhausted and people tend to become downhearted. Sometimes it feels helpless and you may end up just complaining.

At time like this, you have your support from your family, your church members, and many fellow followers. They can be there for you and encourage you to move forward.

In our Goals for Spiritual Maturity, we read,

“If you bind yourselves together in a unity of minds, I shall provide any blessings for you.”

Let us walk together the path of the spiritual maturity with our minds in united towards the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

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

“Do not worry”—Continue to be positive and engage in salvation work

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

Rev. Zensuke Nakata, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs, gave a talk on August 27th entitled, “The Future Course of the Path.” In the latter part of his talk, he spoke about “setting a common goal for all Tenrikyo followers,” and told us that he wanted all of Tenrikyo to take positive strides toward the 150th Anniversary coming up in 16 years in 2036, and the bicentennial anniversary of the founding of the Teachings the following year.

In 16 years, I will be in my late 60s. There may be some of you who may wonder whether you will be alive and kicking 16 years later.

However, Rev. Nakata said this:

“I, myself, will be in my late 70s by that time. There are many of you who are older than me, but it is not about our age. What matters is what the state of the churches that we are entrusted with will be like at that time. What will the faith of my family and church members look like? What is important is that we discuss this with the young people now and decide on a goal to work toward. Then, we must do our very best in our given roles as long as our stamina allows us.”

It is not a matter of what happens to us, but what happens to our churches and the faith of the people surrounding us. What becomes important is what we can do about that.

Sixteen years may seem like a long ways away, but let’s start from today doing what we can one thing at a time.

Last month, we heard a very good sermon from Rev. Miyamori. I almost want to read the whole sermon back to you, but I would like to reflect on what he mentioned about “worry.”

We have a tendency to worry negatively. However, Rev. Miyamori told us that instead of worrying, we can be positive and wonder how God the Parent is going to guide us through.

Today, from time to time, we wonder what is going to happen from now on. […] I think our predecessors also thought, “What is going to happen?” However, their thoughts were more like, “What kind of miraculous blessings or wonders are we going to see next after administering the Sazuke?” “What is going to happen?”

In the Divine Directions, we are taught,

If you worry, the principle of worry will be set in motion. You need not worry.
(Osashizu: July 13, 1889 / Trial translation)

You worry because you do not understand the true principle you are supposed to accept.
(Osashizu: September 19, 1889 / Trial translation)

Although they were also in the midst of crisis or illnesses themselves, our predecessors put aside their own concerns and their family affairs, and engaged in salvation work. I think, instead of thinking, “what is going to happen?” in regards to their own concerns, their mindset transformed to, with full of joy and excitement, “What kind of salvation will I be able to accomplish?”

God the Parent leads us toward the Joyous Life with warm parental care. God does not intend to make us suffer. Let us first keep this in our minds, and when we think about the future, let us not be negative or anxious. Instead, let us look forward to the wonders and the blessings we shall see, believing that although we are in challenging situations now, something positive is waiting for us in the future—something we will be grateful for. If we could attain such mindset, I believe we will be able to live each day more joyously.

Honestly speaking, I do tend to interpret things negatively on many occasions. However, I would like to rebuild my mind to think positively and joyously so that I will be able to feel the wonders of God the Parent.

Honjima Fellowship was established on November 30, 1902. October is the month in which the autumn grand service is performed in commemoration of the founding of the Teaching, but since Honjima fellowship was established in November, maybe we can call November monthly service a small grand service for Honjima.

Let us make a fresh start by cultivating our minds so that we can bring satisfaction and sense of reassurance to our predecessors.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

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

As in a marathon relay race, let’s work hard to connect our faith to others

Rev.Masaharu Goto
Grand Church Associate Board Member

Rev.MasaharuGoto

(Summary)

My name is Masaharu Goto from Miyukihama Branch Church. The church I have been in charge is located in Odawara city in Kanagawa Prefecture. Every New Year, the Tokyo Hakone Marathon Relay Race is held on the 2nd and 3rd of January, and the runners run the road near my church to connect their sashes to the next runner.

When he was a young adult, my father, Shintaro, was enlisted in the army during the war and was sent to the mainland China. After the war ended, he was able to return to Japan alive. He then served as a Seinen, a live-in staff, at Honjima Grand Church, after which, he married my mother Aki in 1947. After that, he became the fourth head minister of Miyukihama Branch Church.

After they married, their eldest son was born. I’m sure they were happy. When their son was five years old, he came down with dysentery. This was during a time of poor hygiene management. To prevent further infection, Shintaro and his uncle were quarantined in a hospital and people were prohibited from visiting the church. They administered the Sazuke on his son and although they prayed for blessings of recovery, he died in May of his fifth year.

Then two years later, the second son was born, however, he also passed away for rebirth before even turning one-year old. I wonder how my father and mother felt.

The first daughter was born in 1952 and I, the third son, was born in 1954. When I was little, I was playing and running around the church with my friends. Back in the time, sewer pipes were not properly placed and thus household wastewater was drained directly in the gutter. One day, I think I fell into the contaminated water, and I came back to the church covered in wastewater.

After a while, I started to say, “My back hurts.” Since the pain didn’t go away for a while, my parents took me to a doctor in town and received a medication. However, it didn’t really help. Then I was taken to another doctor in town. I don’t know if this kind of treatment is still done nowadays, but a needle was injected into the sore spot on my back and a lot of pus came out. I still have the scar from it.

The doctor told my father, “If he was left in this condition for another week, he would have died. If not, his leg would have been amputated.”

The pus was drained out of the incision, but the high fever continued. At the time, Rev. Toshitsugu Katayama, the third head minister of Honjima Grand Church, was visiting Shibuya Church, which is my upper church. Upon hearing from the head minister of Shibuya Church that “a child in Odawara is seriously injured and he is in serious condition,” Rev. Katayama came to Odawara.

At that time, my father Shintaro was in his 30s, and he had a face-to-face discussion with Rev. Toshitsugu Katayama.

From my father’s perspective, I’m sure he was feeling, after having lost two sons, would he possibly lose the third as well? After talking about the illness, Rev. Toshitsugu inquired, “Your upper church will begin the construction of the church living quarters soon. What do you plan to do?”

From my father’s position, he must have been surprised, because nothing about the illness was mentioned to him, instead, only the construction of the upper church was mentioned. He replied, “I will devote my utmost effort.” Rev. Toshitsugu then said, “Very well. I understand,” and he administered the Sazuke.

From then, the fever gradually began to decrease, and I received the complete blessings. And because of that, today, I am standing before all of you, giving this sermon.

My older sister, younger brother and younger sister are all fervently devoted to the faith. This is something to be truly grateful for.

I feel my now departed father and mother are the ones most pleased that all my siblings are connected to the faith. For my parents, although they were repeatedly shown the large knots of losing two children consecutively, they lived together as husband and wife to the ripe ages of 90 years.

In the Divine Directions, we are taught,

Even if I reveal the free and unlimited workings of God, you remember it only for the time being. But when a day passes, ten days passes and thirty day passes, you forget it entirely.
(Osashizu: May 9, 1898)

With the passage of time, your minds relapsed. Therefore I must inform you by the truth of repetition.
(Osashizu: July 7, 1890)

These are very stern lessons. I truly appreciate my parents for following the path diligently despite the difficult challenges they encountered.

I have children as well. They help the church on their own ways.

The faith has been transmitted from the first head minister of my church, to my father, the former head minister of my church. Just like the marathon relay runners connect their sashes to the next runner during the race, I would like to dedicate myself daily for the work of God so that I can transmit the faith to my children.

Thank you very much.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

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