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Greeting

September 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

Let us utilize suitable resources such as social networking services to nurture someone.

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

First, I would like to make an announcement. Rev. Miyamori, the counselor for Honjima Grand Church, was scheduled to do the mission visit to Honjima on October 22, the day of Honjima Grand Church’s autumn grand service. However, his mission visit is postponed to November 22. As such, I will deliver the grand service sermon next month.

Now, I would like to talk about three things today.

First, I would like to talk about “All Tenrikyo Nioigake Day.”

This year, it is scheduled for three days from September 28th to 30th and all Yoboku are encouraged to take part proactively.

The theme is “Let us spread the teachings to people around us.” Sample activities are administration of the Sazuke; carry out missionary work by utilizing pamphlets, by writing letters and postcards, by utilizing video and audio on the Internet and/or by using social media.

I personally think not to limit carrying out missionary work only during these three days. I think it is very important to continue to utilize aforementioned methods in order to nurture our fellow followers.

The younger generation are very familiar with SNS. I would like you, especially the older group, to do your best to familiarize yourself with it in order to connect better with younger generations. In order to convey our will, it’s important to adjust yourself for them. So please try your best.

The second point is about higher education. In Japan, fall is an important time for many students as they prepare for entrance exams and which courses they will need to take. Students in their final year of junior high school are deciding whether to continue on to high school. Seniors in high school are making decision on whether to attend college or vocational school, and what kind of careers to pursue, among a lot of other things to think about.

There are options like staying close to home and attending school or finding a job, or even in schools or jobs in Jiba, but please consider the options to perform Hinokishin services at the Church Headquarters.

Young people can experience being in Oyasato, the Home of the Parent, being around kind and thoughtful people, and being in the atmosphere of Jiba. I’m sure this will bring strength and support to the person throughout his/her life.

I would like to ask you to make effort for the young folks to connect themselves with Jiba while they are young.

The third point is the returning of the church shrines to Church Headquarters.

On September 9th, there were 12 churches from Honjima Grand Church that were returned to the Foundress Hall in the Church Headquarters. The next day, after evening service, there was a ritual procedure and with that, these 12 churches were removed from the church roll.

Besides those, because of the current immigration restrictions into Japan, there are six overseas churches that are also marked for return. In all, please note that there are a total of 170 local churches under Honjima.

Nine years ago, there were three churches that were returned to the Church Headquarters from Honjima, I received these words from the Shinbashira, “I will take on your load in order for you to be able to diligently conduct the activities for the anniversaries of Oyasama and to further the spiritual growth of your followers.”

This may not be the best example to illustrate, but in nature, sometimes you need to thin out the unhealthy trees in order to encourage growth in surrounding trees.

I would like to make sure that we do not just dismiss so lightly of this knot of returning these 12 churches and their sacred symbols of worship. I would like for all of us head ministers to reaffirm the purpose of our churches, the nobleness of our churches’ names, and the importance of connecting to others. Savor the gratitude and for the 12 churches we have lost, please give your efforts toward the spiritual growth of all.

Thank you for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

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

“The anniversary is a knot of milestone we decided on.” Let us take one step at a time towards this milestone.

Rev. Satoshi Inoue
Board of Director, Honjima Grand Church

Rev.nagashimaMuneyuki

(Summary)

Today, as we welcome next year’s celebration for the 120th anniversary, I would like to start by looking back on the 100th and 110th anniversary.

The 100th anniversary commemorative service was conducted on May 21, 2002 in conjunction with the current grand church head minister, the 6th head minister’s, installation service.

According to the Honjima Newsletter, the Shinbashira, and his wife, Mrs. Nakayama, accompanied by Church Headquarters executive board member Rev. Zentaro Tanaka attended the service with clear blue skies, temperature of 83F degrees (28.4 Celsius), and with 3,344 people in attendance.

The next anniversary, the 110th anniversary, was held on June 21, 2012, with honorable attendance by the Shinbashira, his wife, Mrs. Nakayama, accompanied by Church Headquarters executive board members Rev. Yoichiro Miyamori and Rev. Harunobu Nakayama. On this day, it was raining very hard with 1,782 people in attendance.

And this time, with the 120th anniversary commemorative service as the next milestone, we are in the midst of our journey, being led by Rev. Kayatama, our grand church head minster.

Today, I would like to talk about this “milestone.”

For Oyasama’s Anniversaries or anniversaries for our churches, we often use this term “milestone” in reference to during these periods. A milestone is a stone set up beside a road to mark the distance in miles to a particular place

My birthplace is Kishiwada City in south-central Osaka.

The road in front of the church used to be called Kishu Kaido, and when I was in elementary school, my schoolteacher explained to us in front of one of the remaining milestones on the road. I still remember the excitement I felt at that time.

The milestones were placed along major roads in the Edo period in Japan, and were placed at intervals of one ri (about 4 kilometers/2.5 mile) to guide travelers.

For example, Tokaido that connected from Nihonbashi in Tokyo to Sanjo Bridge in Kyoto was 492 kilometers (305 miles) long. There were total of 124 milestones, and the journey took about 15 days on foot.

I'm sure that from the time they left their inn in the morning till they reached the inn they would stay that night, travelers in those days looked forward to reaching the destination, passing milestones one by one and saying, "How many more milestones to go, how many more...”

I believe the milestones were important signs that encouraged and uplifted the heart of travelers. Also, back then, traveling to unknown places must have been difficult because they traveled not knowing what kind of mountain roads, rivers, or dangerous places they may encounter along the way. Maybe some trips were fun and joyful with a large group of people, and maybe some were lonely and uncertain.

In present times, these types of milestones have become unnecessary. All the necessary information needed to reach your destination are readily available. There are smart phones and car navigation systems with maps that provide accurate information about your present location and destination.

Nonetheless, it is important to focus on the milestones of critical turning points, then on to the next milestone, and furthermore again, to the next. I feel, constantly advancing in this way, will surely bring us closer to our goal of the Joyous Life.

As both eyes can see far into our aims and goals, it is located at the highest point of the human body. However, the only way to attain those goals are by going toward it one step at a time.

I am sure our predecessors referenced in their talks, the small junctures along the path toward the huge goal of the Joyous Life world, as “milestones.”

Here, I would like to share with you the words from the sermon given by Rev. Yoichiro Miyamori, Tenrikyo Church Headquarters executive board member, when he visited Honjima for the spring grand service in 2012, which was 5 months prior to the 110th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church.

“Through the commemorative service, it is time for Honjima Grand Church to take a bigger leap forward. Going through illnesses or other problems is a knot, and the commemorative service is a knot of milestone that you all set as you decided to celebrate the 110th anniversary. It is a knot of milestone you all set to welcome the Shinbashira and Mrs. Nakayama, his wife, to Honjima to show them who much spiritual growth you have attained for this anniversary.

In the Divine Directions, we are taught:

When you find yourself in a situation where you think this may be your end, recall that it is a knot. Make a commitment of spirit and stand firm. If you stand firm, the Truth of Heaven will work for you. This I teach.(Osashizu: August 23, 1904)

I would like to conclude my talk today by asking you to exert all your strength during this seasonable time to make the commemorative service a fulfilling one.”

“The commemorative service is a knot of milestone we all set.” Let us reaffirm these words, aim for the next milestone, the 120th Anniversary, and make progress one step at a time toward the realization of the Joyous Life world that God the Parent wishes to come true.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

August 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

Let’s make hinokishin part of our daily lives.

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

On June 27th, the Convention to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Tenrikyo Disaster Relief Hinokishin Corps was held at the Yoki Hall.

At the convention, Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Rev. Zensuke Nakata read a message from the Shinbashira.

I’d like to read the last part of that message.

“In your daily lives, I’d like you to devote yourselves to proactively implement the practice of Hinokishin and continue to develop the Hinokishin spirit. With this, we can look to the goal of receiving blessings of a world with no disasters.”

Every year, many places suffer from damages done by natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes. There is no shortage of disasters.

This year, there has been a lot of rainfall in Japan, however in Brazil, there have been droughts and frost damage that has greatly impacted the production of coffee beans.

It is gratifying if we can receive blessings of fire, water and wind in good balance, but that is not how it always is.

God the Parent, with the Parental heart to save humankind, must be frustrated with the slow spiritual maturity of us children, and with a deep regret, shows us these disasters as guidance for us to “build up your minds and hearts.”

Through this, I feel the Shinbashira is saying to “proactively implement the practice of hinokishin within our daily lives.”

The “implementation of hinokishin" is also “practicing the teachings.” This is also to be carried out “within your daily lives.” This is not hinokishin to be carried out during a special gathering, when on duty or during a disaster relief, much less to say, words alone would not serve its purpose.

I feel we are being taught, that if not carried out with an “attitude of hinokishin,” or the “spirit of hinokishin” on a normal basis, it will not be hinokishin in its true essence.

Prior to implementing hinokishin, it is important to feel gratitude toward the daily blessings received from God the Parent. It is hinokishin to repay the blessings we receive. I want to reflect my gratitude to God the Parent for the blessings received with the manner in which I do hinokishin.

Finally, so that we can receive the blessings of a world without natural disasters, let us always strive to do hinokishin daily.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

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

“Let us engage in salvation work spontaneously, giving out all the sincerity we have.”

Rev. Mitsuharu Takagaki
Associate Board Member, Honjima Grand Church

Rev.takagakiMitsuharu

(Summary)

Last year in March, the World Health Organization, WHO, declared that the novel coronavirus infection had reached the level of the pandemic. Since then, its fury has not abated, and our lifestyles have been changed. Today, we have more than 20,000 new cases of coronavirus each day, and a state of emergency has been declared in many places.

Looking back the history, humankind has repeatedly battled with numerous epidemics.

Cholera, which was prevalent during Meiji era, in mid-1800s, infected more than 160,000 people in Japan in 1879, and about 105,000 of them lost their lives (Report from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare).

In the Ofudesaki, we are taught,

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

The “regret of Tsukihi” is interpreted as the divine will of God that was in connection with the state of the world, and, through the cholera epidemic, God wishes humans to change such state of the world.

I believe, through this knot of the pandemic, we are being urged to ponder over our state of mind and how we should live each day.

In the following Ofudesaki, we are taught:

The reason Tsukihi began human beings
Was the desire to see you lead a joyous life. (Ofudesaki IV: 25)

As you can see, the reason why God the Parent created human beings is so we can live the Joyous Life, and God the Parents wants to see us live the Joyous Life and share in that joy.

This “Joyous Life” would be the ideal life blessed with health, prosperity, and peace all the while forgetting greed.

This novel coronavirus could not be contained in one country’s epidemic prevention, and the infection spread to the world in a blink of an eye. On the other hand, I was surprised and filled with hope when humankind was able to develop a vaccine within one year and vaccination efforts began nationwide.

The world is working together to overcome the woes of coronavirus. The world may be united by the coronavirus crisis. If we think of it that way, we can ponder that the coronavirus crisis is a divine guidance from God the Parent.

In the Ofudesaki, we are also taught:

Illness and pain of whatever kind do not exist.
They are none other than the hastening and guidance of God (Ofudesaki II: 7)

In the face of illnesses and injuries, in general, people say it’s just an illness or pain but it is not. We can interpret as it is the hastening of God, given through God’s profound divine intention.

However, human tend to be self-centered and fall into use the mind in a way, “all is well if the present is well.”

Currently in Japan, the 4th declaration of the state of emergency was announced. However, people are like “I understand the importance of refraining from doing things but...” and use the “pandemic exhaustion” as an excuse to justify themselves, “I deserve a break.”

Such perspective, “even if I refrain from doing things but what if others are not?” is a manifestation of a self-centered thought, which occupies the minds of many.

We are given the freedom in the use of our minds from God the Parent. Although we can use our minds freely, often times we find it easy to be frustrated and find it difficult to be joyful in our minds.

I believe that, in order to have joyful mind, we must take action proactively

One of the religious belief I learned from my father, late Rev. Masuo Takagaki, a grand church board member, that I cherish is “Give it out,” “Give it completely,” and “Give it unconditionally.”

For instance, when you buy something, since you paid for it first, the item becomes yours. If you pocket the item without paying, it is a crime.

Also, if you get a job and work for a month, you will get paid for the month worked. You won’t get paid one month in advance if you haven’t done anything.

In the world, things start from “giving.” We must “give completely.” Giving completely would mean to do things with all of one’s true sincerity. Further, let’s talk about “giving unconditionally.” Giving unconditionally is a mindset that doesn’t think about, or hope for, something in return.

That is to say, during the coronavirus pandemic, or even in normal times, we must constantly make an effort to give our sincerity to salvation work, give fully and not seek anything in return. I believe that that will be an effort to near the intention of our parent, not waiting for something to be given to us, but to take actions ourselves, find joy, and be able to accept all things that come about as “blessings.”

We are celebrating the Grand Church’s 120th anniversary on May 21st next year.

In everything that we do, let us have our mind’s antennae up so that we don’t miss the voice of our parent, and take unmistaken and certain steps one after another, getting closer to our parent’s intentions, so that we can welcome the grand milestone together.

Thank you for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greeting

July 22, 2021 (Tenrikyo 184)
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister’s Meeting

Let us spread the teachings to those close to us, especially in times like this

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

Rev.KatayamaKanta

(Summary)

I would like to share with you some of the announcements made during a Kaname-kai meeting at the Church Headquarters. It is about the “All Tenrikyo Nioigake Day.”

Last year, the activity was cancelled to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but the head of the Missionary Department has announced that it will be held this year.

The activity plans, such as roadside speech, spreading the name of God, and door-to-door missionary, are to be discussed at each diocese and district.

It is also important that we consciously spread the teachings to those close to us in times like this. Let us develop the mind to convey the teachings to those around us.

By the way, the opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympics will be held tomorrow (July 23). All participating athletes, who represent their countries, have made strenuous effort to earn the representation. No athletes have won the spot easily. Just like the Olympic athletes, let us also set a big goal, even if it is challenging, and work hard for the path, instead of going an easy way.

On August 21, Honjima Chapter Boys and Girls Association Convention will be held at the grand church. For those children who cannot attend, we will send the message of the Association president to each church prior to the convention. Please have the children gather at your church and listen to the message of the president, which will be their guidelines for the second trimester forward.

Your cooperation will be much appreciated

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

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

Let’s make time to seriously come face-to-face with God the Parent

Rev. Motohiro Iwahashi
Grand Church Associate Board Member

Rev.iwahashiMotohiro

(Summary)

There was an article in the Michinotomo that relayed a story about a church head minister who performs the prayer service for someone six times a day.

His words at the end of the article, “I would like to make time to seriously come face-to-face with God the Parent,” really struck a cord with me.

Soon after I read the article, my wife’s aunt collapsed due to a cerebral infarction stroke and at the same time, she was also diagnosed with terminal cancer.

So my wife and I decided to perform the prayer service six times a day.

Usually, we are busy with our church duties or job. Our minds are also busy and we think about this and that.

In our busy schedules, in order to calm our minds, switch our mindset and converse with God the Parent, it is imperative that we consciously focus ourselves.

When I performed the prayer service six times a day, I was able to face God without rushing and I could see clearly that I was usually just performing the service, not fully focused.

Calling out God’s name in earnest is the foundation of the service, but had I really been intending to call God the Parent when I chanted “Tenri-O-no-Mikoto”?

When I sang, “Ashiki harai tasuke tamae (All ills sweep away),” was I really praying, “God, please save me”?

Were my hand movements really dancing the truth?

In his address at the Boys and Girls Association leaders’ first meeting of the year 2021, the Director-in-chief of Religious Affairs said: “I would like the parents, who are also nurturing members of the Boys and Girls Association, to be able to convey the strenuous efforts and joy to perform the ‘service’ to ‘save someone,’ administer the ‘Sazuke,’ bring someone back to ‘Jiba’ to receive the blessings, instead of simply saying ‘we are living joyously,’ and/or ‘our family is happy.’”

In Song Six of the Mikagura-uta, the Songs for the Service, we are taught:

Second, As I work miraculous salvation, I discern any and everything.
Third, The innermost hearts of all in the world, are reflected to Me as in a mirror.
Fourth, I am pleased that you have followed to join the Service. This Service is the fundamental way for salvation.

As written in the Mikagura-uta, God the Parent and Oyasama is always discerning our minds.

We should be conscious of God the Parent and Oyasama’s presence when we perform the service.

As I mentioned earlier, my wife and I had been performing the prayer service for my wife’s aunt, six times a day. Something I read in a faith essay on the Tenrikyo Students’ Association website “Happist,” caught my eye. In the essay, “The path to conviction,” Rev. Nobuya Noguchi described in detail of his missionary experience in Thailand and the “the most sincere way to pray for others” is to perform the seated service and Twelve Songs of the Mikagura-uta three times in the morning and three times in the evening for three days and three nights consecutively.”

After reading this essay, it crossed my mind to perform the Three Day, Three Night prayer service.

If you think about how much time this will take, you may stumble, but I whole-heartedly started doing this, not wanting to feel regret for not doing it at all.

Every morning, we would wake up earlier than usual and perform the Twelve Songs of the Mikagura-uta twice, then after performing the morning service, we would dance the Twelve Songs again. Then, after evening service, we would perform the prayer service three times in a row.

We continued this for 3 days, and on the third day, as I was thinking I would be happy to receive some sort of sign, upon completing the third repetition of the Twelve Songs of the hand dance in the morning, my wife astonishingly exclaimed, “Oh! What happened?” after seeing the back of my head.

What she saw was a bald spot about the size of a quarter. I had contracted what was called, alopecia areata, a form of spot baldness.

Initially I did not understand God’s message. However, I feel perhaps somewhere within me I was arrogantly feeling, “So, I am doing this much.”

However that night, after completing the 3rd repetition of the prayer service, through a conversation with my wife, I learned an immensely valuable lesson.

When my aunt in-law, for whom we were performing the prayer service for, collapsed due to a cerebral infarction stroke in late April and was admitted to the hospital, they found she had terminal cancer. From the time she collapsed she experienced no pain.

The fact she experienced no pain was for her and her family a truly thankful blessing.

However, as I was wondering what truth was allowing her to receive this blessing at which point my wife shared the following recollection.

My wife’s grandmother, her aunt’s mother, was a person that was enthusiastic about salvation work to the point that she would ride a bicycle over mountains to do salvation work even if she received a phone call for help in the middle of the night.

Her grandmother passed away from cancer, but while she was battling cancer, she administered the Sazuke when she was asked by her best friend to do salvation work for her friend who was suffering from terminal brain cancer.

Due to the truth of efficacy of the Sazuke, that person’s pain was alleviated to the point that morphine was not required.

It was only when my wife’s grandmother passed away did that person realize she was doing salvation work while she herself had cancer, and although in serious condition, that person attended my wife’s grandmother’s wake and thanked her by saying “I have received salvation.”

I think that it was because of the virtue of my wife’s grandmother’s spirit and my aunt received a blessing of not having to suffer the pain from cancer.

After finishing the Three Day, Three Night prayer, I felt that it was as if God taught us, “This is what a true missionary,” and I felt very grateful.

Even in the midst of this pandemic, if we use our minds to save others, God the Parent and Oyasama will work in accordance with our sincere minds and help us with the path to grow spiritually.

For the Anniversary, even though the ways of each one of us may be different, let us be united in mind to achieve the Goals for Spiritual Maturity that are equally the same for everyone.

I am looking forward to seeing you all at the Anniversary in May next year.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

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