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Message

May 21, 2022 (185th YoT)
Honjima Grand Church 120th Anniversary Commemorative Service

The Shinbashira’s Message

(Summary)

I would like to thank you for your constant efforts for the path. I also congratulate you for your 120th Anniversary of the Honjima Grand Church today. Due to the continuing Covid-19 crisis, your anniversary service was to be held with countermeasures and since I am not able to attend in person, I would like to convey my thoughts through this written message.

We are taught that the “Path is eternal.” The term “eternal” means to continue forever. With this in mind, today is an opportunity for you to ponder what mindset is needed to continue Honjima’s path, and to contemplate and confirm with one another how to move forward.

Then, it is necessary for us to reaffirm the mindset of those who decided to request the establishment of this church.

If you are determined to believe,
Let us form a brotherhood. (Mikagura-Uta, Songs for the Service V:10)

As indicated in this verse, Tenrikyo fraternities and churches were originally established by those who were saved from illnesses and other problems through the miraculous blessings of God the Parent. They wished to continue following the faith by any means, and wanted to repay their debt of gratitude for being saved. They then made a place to gather as the base for deepening their faith. By doing so, they became determined to spread the teachings and to guide as many people as possible. I think such a determination led them to request the establishment of a church. God the Parent accepted their spiritual resolution and granted divine sanction to establish a church, which carries forth its truth eternally. We must understand well this mind of God the Parent.

As a church continues for many years, merely keeping the church name alive is not sufficient. I believe that God the Parent granted eternal divine sanction to establish a church as a means to encourage those who are associated with the church today—to maintain the same mind as those who requested to establish the church, even if the generations and people at the church were to change over the years.

It may be natural to see changes in people’s mindsets as the memories of the past get lost as time passes and the generations change. However, we need to keep in mind and act in accord with the intention of God the Parent. If you think that you cannot keep the same mindset as those of the past simply because the times have changed, I do not believe that such thinking is based on our faith.

The path of Honjima was not made in a day. Your long path of 120 years is due to your ancestors and predecessors, who walked the path of single-heartedly helping others be saved, by diligently following the Divine Model of Oyasama. I believe your mission is to inherit the mindset of your predecessors, to follow in their footsteps, to newly expand the path, to make as much progress in spiritual growth as possible, and at the same time, to take on the responsibility to nurture those who will continue to follow the path going forward.

Even if those who gather at the church change or the church building or location changes, the mind of those who are associated with the church must not change. The teachings of Oyasama will not change. However, the orientation of the human mind can change easily, so I believe we need to re-align ourselves from time to time. Although we may believe that we are doing our best every day, unknowingly, we may be heading somewhere different from our original goal. Even if our aim is ever so slightly off, if we continue on without realizing this, it could lead to large deviations in trajectory, we may lose sight of our final destination, and it could lead us to grave results.

Therefore, I ask you to think about today as an opportunity to reconfirm your minds. I would like you to reflect on both the history of this church and the minds of people at that time. Then, compared with the mindset at the time of this church’s establishment, let us humbly reassess any misalignments in terms of the state of this church and how this church is making progress. If you discover any misalignments, please correct them accordingly.

The promise the first generation made to God the Parent, at the time of this church’s establishment, is the same promise that you make to God the Parent today. The way to respond to the intention of God the Parent, who granted eternal divine sanction to establish this church, is to follow firmly, in accordance with the teachings, the path that you inherited from your predecessors.

The path of Honjima will continue for the years to come. However, it is not an exaggeration to say that how Honjima’s path will continue all depends on how you reflect on your path until now and the spiritual resolutions that you will make going forward towards future progress.

By all means, I ask that you all work together so that Honjima’s path will progress straight ahead to become a church that continues in accord with the intention of God the Parent. With this, I would like to conclude my message for today.

(Private translation by Honjima translators)

Greeting

May 21, 2022 (185th YoT)
Honjima Grand Church 120th Anniversary Commemorative Service

Greetings at the 120th Anniversary Commemorative Service

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.katayamaKanta

(Summary)

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for being here today to worship at the 120th Commemorative Anniversary Service of the Establishment of the Honjima Grand Church.

First of all, we have received a message from the Shinbashira, so I would like to read it to you. (Reads Shinbashira’s message)

I urge each and every person connected with Honjima to take to heart the words received from the Shinbashira as words spoken directly to you. Let us settle his words in our hearts, and together from here on forward, continue to progress single-heartedly on the path toward the Joyous Life.

Regarding today’s commemorative service, I received numerous messages telling me, “Although I want to return, I am unable to. I am so disappointed.” Therefore, for those of you here who were able to participate, when you return to your churches and homes, I would like you to share the message you heard today with those who were unable to return.

I would like to speak about three things that come to mind.

This is the first.Regarding this anniversary, I had believed that we would be able to have the attendance of the Shinbashira as in the past. However, we heard three months ago that he would not be able to attend.

Further, we were supposed to have a visit by our supervisory church counselor Rev. Yoichiro Miyamori, but four days ago, we again learned that he would not be able to visit our church due to a sudden circumstance.

So, for the first time, we had a commemorative service with only those connected to Honjima in attendance.

To be honest, initially, I felt a bit sad. As I was pondering, however, what came to mind was the lunar calendar date of January 26, 1887, the last day of the 50 years of the Divine Model of Oyasama.

Everyone believed with confidence that Oyasama would get better and live to be 115 years old, because they had performed the Service which Oyasama had urged. However, what resulted was a great knot of Her withdrawing from physical life.

Then, through a Divine Direction, Oyasama taught, “Because of My love for you, My children, the Parent shortened Her life by twenty-five years to step out and save the world from now.”

That is to say, what seemed to be an unfortunate event for us was actually a knot that was shown to us because the children are so dear to the Parent.

This time, the Shinbashira as well as the church counselor and the honored guests were not able to attend, and that means we are on our own to unite our minds and perform the service together. I have come to the conclusion that now, God the Parent is calling on all of us members who are connected to Honjima to be mindful of one another.

For the past three years, we have been promoting the activities for the anniversary with “unity of mind” as our goal for spiritual maturity. I believe that God the Parent accepted our intention and prepared this day for us. I would like to continue our discussion of the path toward the Joyous Life with all of you.

Secondly, I would like to talk about the missionary, Rev. Eisa Sato, who spread this path to many of our predecessors of Honjima, including Rev. Yoshizo Katayama. Rev. Eisa Sato began missionary work in Honjima after going through illness and other problems.

The following words are Rev. Sato’s:

“Before I die, I want to have conveyed the faith of this path thoroughly to at least – even to only– one person.”

Just one person, it doesn’t have to be many. The path of Honjima began with this thought, “to (convey) the faith of this path thoroughly to at least – even to only– one person.”

We all strive to reach out to the people of the world in large numbers and connect with their hearts, but on this day of celebration, I hope that we make a pledge to each other to really convey the teachings to even one person.

I would be exaggerating if I said that I hope we can emulate Rev. Eisa Sato by putting our lives on the line, but I hope we can put forth our sincerest efforts.

Thirdly, I’d like to discuss the stance of faith of our predecessors and pioneers of our path, starting with the founder of Honjima. The predecessors and pioneers of Honjima sought to unite their minds with the Shinbashira and supervising church ministers and follow them, no matter what. Such was their stance of faith. This is what Rev. Yoshizo Katayama called “filial devotion.” When we talk about the faith of Honjima, I feel like “filial devotion” is the most fitting words.

I would like for us to take to heart the words we received from the Shinbashira as we progress forward. Let us resolve our minds and proceed onward feeling, “I have received these words for my own spiritual maturity,” and “I shall align my thoughts with these words, and no matter what, I shall follow them.”

Starting January next year, the “three years, one thousand days” toward the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama will begin. Let all of us connected to Honjima make spiritual growth with a “unity of minds” and go onward cheerfully and spiritedly.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

April 14, 2021 (Tenrikyo 185)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

Let us look back on our homework from the Shinbashira as we head toward our Commemorative Anniversary

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

We are getting into the month of May, and we are going to be celebrating the 120th Commemorative Anniversary of the establishment of our church very soon. The Shinbahira gave us a lot of homework in his address 10 years ago at our 110th Anniversary. Is our homework done? We have a month until our Anniversary so I would like for us to do as much of our homework as possible so that we won’t get a zero.

Now, I would like to look back on his address from the 110th Anniversary.

“When our mind remains unchanging from that of those who requested to establish the church, we will be able to receive unchanging blessings of a church.“

I believe this is something that you have heard many times.

Further, he also said:

“The Path of Honjima was not founded in a day. During the 110 years, your forefathers and predecessors followed the Divine Model of Oyasama. It is because of their footsteps that you are here today.”

Also, he said:

“As years and months go by and people change generation after generation and we start to lose the memories of the olden days, we might say that it cannot be helped if there are changes in people’s minds.

To say that people in the olden days thought like that but since the era is different now and so we cannot think in the same way—I don’t think we can say that this is a religious way of thinking.

To proceed with care and not break the promise that we made with God the Parent at the time of our church establishment, keeping that promise as our promise of today and for generations to come, would be responding to God that Parent who has granted us the church name which is for all eternity.”

In these 10 years, society and this grand church have changed considerably.

However, no matter the circumstances, seek out the Path of the Divine Model and follow this path with the thought that you are always accompanying the Everliving Oyasama.

Further, the faith Honjima aims to fulfill is evident in the lyrics of the song, “Honjima Ondo (Honjima Dance Song).”

There are five verses in the song, but eacg ends with the words, “let’s go forward joyfully.”

In the time of our predecessors, they had hardships different from we experience today. They suffered hardships related to food and to the uncertainty and fear of war. But even within those hardships, I’d like to think that they held their beliefs in the faith, thinking, “let’s go forward joyfully.”

We may not be able to score high on the homework assignments that we received from the Shinbashira, but let us resolve our hearts toward the 120th Anniversary of Honjima so that we can strive to become closer to Oyasama and move forward joyfully.

The theme is “Unity of Mind.” If we lack even one person, we will not be united. I hope to be in unity with our hearts to welcome our anniversary in joyful mind. Thank you.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

April 14, 2021 (Tenrikyo 185)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

The young who will shoulder the future path—Actively take part in the 120th Anniversary Hinokishin

Rev. Yasonori Okazaki
Board Member: Honjima Grand Church

Rev.yasonoriOkazaki

(Summary)

It started to get warmer gradually as we entered April, and this pleasant weather has helped us to be more active.

April 18 is the 224th birthday of the everliving Oyasama. At Jiba, Oyasama Birth Celebration Service will be held, followed by the “Joyous Chorus,” where we sing the songs filled with joy in our hearts to send our birthday wishes to Oyasama.

In Ofudesaki, we read:

In the Ofudesaki, we are taught:

What do you think it is that I shall make known?
I shall make the Parent of Origin clearly known.
Ofudesaki IX:26

To teach you things unknown until now,
I shall make the Parent of origin clearly know.
Ofudesaki IX:30

When you come to know the Parent of Origin clearly,
I shall give you My assurance on anything whatever.
Ofudesaki IX: 31

Oyasama, Who has the causality of the original mother to give birth to human beings, is the Parent of Origin, Who expounded the ultimate teachings to save the world as the Shrine of God. The teachings of the Joyous Life was started by Oyasama alone, and today, Her teachings have spread throughout the world.

I would like to read a story from the Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. It teaches us the way to use the mind that we should all learn.

144 The Virtue Which Reaches Heaven

Oyasama was detained in Nara Prison from March 24 through April 5, 1884. Chuzaburo Koda was also kept in custody for ten days. While imprisoned, Chuzaburo was ordered by a jailor to clean the toilets. When he came back to Oyasama after he had finished cleaning, Oyasama inquired:

“Koda, what do you think of having been brought to this kind of place and even having been made clean such filthy places as toilets”

“I think I am serving God whatever I do. So I am very happy,”

He answered. Oyasama said:

“You are right. If you do something with gratitude, no matter how hard or unpleasant it may be, your virtue will reach heaven. Virtue which is accepted by God will be turned into joy. But no matter how hard or trying the work that you do may be, if you do it complaining, ‘How hard it is, How I hate it,’ the complaints will also reach heaven and be returned to you in kind.”

Somei Yoshino cherry, Japanese cherry tree, was born from grafting. It can be seen not only all across the country, but also all across the world. It is said that there are more than 10 million Somei Yoshino cherry trees around the world. The cherry blossom lightens up mind and comforts the mind of people.

The teachings of Tenrikyo, which was started by Oyasama alone, lighten up and uplift our minds.

Cherry blossom can ease the mind of people once a year. However, by always striving to follow the path of the Divine Model of Oyasama, we, Yoboku, can lighten up and uplift the mind of people around us anytime, anywhere.

Now, regarding the 120th Anniversary of Honjima, which we will celebrate on May 21, we are asking the younger generation of Honjima, who will shoulder the future of the path, to help the Anniversary.

It is intended that, through the hinokishin for the Anniversary, we hope that the young people feel closer in following the faith and as if it is their own, build fraternal connection with each other as they will shoulder the future of the path, and eventually grow spiritually to become active yoboku for their church.

In the past 2 years, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we are not able to gather a large group of people to hold any activities and events. Instead, online meetings and activities have been held via Internet. However, it is still important to have in-person association activities and events.

By spending time together at the same place, talking and listening to one another, and doing things together, participants can deepen their connections and bond with one another. Moreover, they will be able to deepen their own faith by inspiring and influencing with each other.

Looking back on my own experience, I was able to face my own faith through connections with many people and also deepening the bonds with them when I was younger. It has now become the driving force for me to walk the Path of Tenrikyo.

Regarding the Anniversary, I would like the people who lead the next generation to proactively participate in Hinokishin and take the treasure back home in order to follow the future Path of Tenrikyo.

In our Anniversary this time, I would like the younger generations to proactively participate in hinokishin and obtain treasures for their faith.

I would like all who are associated with the church, including the head ministers, to encourage the younger generation, who will shoulder our future, and send them off to take part in the Anniversary hinokishin.

Although we will not receive the honorable attendance of the Shinbashira this time, I believe we, who are associated with Honjima Grand Church, will receive a message from the Shinbashira. I am very delighted and grateful for it.

Despite yet continuing Covid 19 crisis, let us feel thankful to be able to celebrate our Anniversary. We have a little over a month and a half until the Anniversary, let us shift our minds into high gear and please return to Honjima for the Anniversary with hearts filled with joy.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

March 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 185)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

Let us personally make the commemorative service meaningful and carry it out with a unity of minds.

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

Due to the circumstances of the Covid pandemic, over these two years, not only in Japan, but people all over the world have been feeling anxious and what we used to take for granted in normal daily life is not normal any more.

However, due to these circumstances, I think we find that people have been cooperating by wearing masks, disinfecting hands, getting vaccinated and avoiding the Three C’s (closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings), so that the Covid pandemic can be resolved even a day sooner.

I don’t know if we can call it a “unity of minds,” but everyone is hoping for a resolution and acting with one mind/thought. I think that this is a state of mind that is one step closer toward realizing the world of the Joyous Life that God the Parent wishes.

On the other hand, we see military aggression in the world.

We are being shown the state of people’s minds that are covered in the Eight Dustsof the Mind. For those of us who are following the teachings of Oyasama, let us first start out by making effort to sweep our own dust of the mind.

Let us not be affected by what we see but take a hard look at what we cannot see—especially our own mind. With the freedom of the use of our mind that we are being given, let us, ourselves, follow the teachings of Oyasama and work diligently toward a world of the Joyous Life in which we all help one another.

We are less than two months away from the anniversary.

This time, the Shinbashira isn’t going to grace us with his presence. We must make this meaningful ourselves, and make an effort to make this anniversary one in which we get even closer to the intention of the Parent.

I ask for your cooperation on this.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

March 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 185)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon

Let us perform the service with a completely purified, unified and spirited mind.

Rev. Shinjiro Hirai
Board Member: Honjima Grand Church

Rev.HiraiShinjiro

(Summary)

Led by the head, Rev. Kanta Katayama, we have just joyfully completed the March monthly service. Thank you very much.

Please allow me to talk of my reflections in regards to the keywords for the Joyous Life: “Gratitude, Moderation, and Mutual Help.”

First, “Gratitude” is the expression of thanks. The feeling of being thankful.

The origins of the Honjima path started in 1896, when a missionary, Rev. Eisa Sato, arrived from Tsuruga, staking his life on his missionary work in Honjima. In 1902, Yoshizo Katayama, being saved from near death, resolved his mind to dedicate his life for missionary work, against great opposition from those around him, and worked on establishing a church.

There are no words to describe the path of hardships and the salvation work Rev. Yoshizo experienced, which was originated from the “parental devotion” and the passion he whole-heartedly felt to bring joy to Rev. Sato.

The first person in my family’s faith, Kumanoshin Hirai, was suffering from an illness, when Rev. Yoshizo helped him. He became a follower of the faith, and generations later, here we are. Without the deep faith of the pioneer of my family, without mistake, I would not be where I am today. I’m sure it’s the same for you all.

I believe this is very important. This is “gratitude.”

Next is “moderation.” I think moderation is to learn and to become aware of.

After graduating from high school, I was downhearted since I did not pass the college entrance exam. My father asked to me to serve as a live-in missionary at the grand church and I came to Honjima very reluctantly. I was going through a difficult time living in a lifestyle that I was not used to.

One day, I went into the woods to collect sakaki branches to be offered as the sacred branches at the graveyard. The senior staff taught me how to do it but I was not able to get it right and I was being scolded again and again. I was again down in the dumps while I was on the back of the truck to the graveyard. Along the way, from my carelessness, I fell off the truck from head first.

When I regained consciousness, I was transported to the church office and a reverend, the board member of the grand church, was administering the Sazuke to me. Since I suffered from a severe head trauma, I was transported to a hospital in Marugame City. Because of that, I felt even more miserable.

It was in the evening of the day I injured. Around that time, head ministers from local Honjima church were taking turns to give a special talk to the staff members at Honjima. It happened to be my father’s turn to give a talk that evening.

I was listening at the very back of the room with my head and both hands wrapped in bandages.

My father’s talk was about the day of origin of the Hirai family. I couldn’t stop my tears from the story I heard for the first time. This was also the first time I realized that it was a guidance from God the Parent.

Back then, I was complaining about my church life in Hokkaido every day—I’m going through difficult times because of Tenrikyo. I was the only boy among my siblings, and I was repeatedly told I was going to take over the church since the childhood days. Because of this, I only had a sense of uncertainty about my future.

However, after learning the hearts of my ancestors, who transmitted the family faith from generation to generation, to cancel the causality, my attitude began to change gradually.

By realizing the guidance of God the Parent, I think, the mind of moderation will develop in your mind

I think this mind of “moderation” is very important for us, head ministers, who are in charge of local churches.

The last one is “Mutual Help.”

Last year from September to November, I served as an instructor for the Spiritual Development Course. I was assigned as the assistant homeroom teacher of women’s class number 101.

The class consisted of 19 ladies. Among them, the youngest student turns out to stir the class.

About after 2 weeks had passed, I began to hear comments from the class monitors and classmates that a fellow student’s actions were harsh and irritating. At the student’s wishes and upon discussing with the Spiritual Development Course advisor, it was decided to consult with a medical specialist.

The result was, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

It seems the characteristics of a person afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome are difficulties in social communications, and imbalances in interests and activities. I learned that afflicted persons have no ill intent, but they tend to bring about many obstacles within personal relations and have difficulty in adapting to group life.

I relayed this to the class monitors and decided to observe for a while. However, the situation did not change right away.

In such time, a woman in the class said to her, “When you receive the truth of the Sazuke, please administer the Sazuke to me.” Just by this, the situation began to change. Little by little, everyone in the class began to understand her more.

It seemed as though she was selfishly doing as she pleased, but little by little she started listening to the class monitors and the words of her classmates, and began to clean the corridors and do hinokishin together with them.

However, around the middle of the second month, that woman who requested the administration of the Sazuke withdrew from the Spiritual Development Course for personal reasons, and the girl also began to lose her direction.

Thereupon, with the homeroom teacher at the core, the class monitors, along with other classmates, made sincere effort to go to the Main Sanctuary and the Foundress’ Sanctuary many times to perform prayer services for her. This was certainly the true image of “Mutual Help.”

The third month came, and the girl was able to receive the truth of the Sazuke and became a Yoboku. She wanted to keep her promise to the lady who said, “I want you to administer the Sazuke to me.” A couple of days later, with the help of the classmate who belonged to the same grand church, she was able to go see the lady to administer the Sazuke. She sang “Ashiki harai tasuke tamae...” to administer the Sazuke at the Main Sanctuary of Church Headquarters. While all the classmates prayed together by surrounding the two of them, an indescribable emotion embraced the moment.

She, the lady, and all the classmates told each other “Thank you” many times.

Strangers were drawn to Jiba through the divine guidance, applied for the 963rd term of Spiritual Development Course, and brought together as the class number 101. They shared the emotional experience of “Mutual Help.” I have never experienced fully the meaning of the teaching of “bringing you together according to the causality and protect you.”

We have just 2 months left until the 120th Anniversary of Honjima. Although some things are still not settled, we are making the final push. With Rev. Kanta Katayama at the core, let each one of us, young and old, bind tightly together with the mind of “Gratitude, Moderation, and Mutual Help” and welcome the day of the anniversary in a unity of mind with full of joy.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

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