May 21, 2022 (185th YoT)
Honjima Grand Church 120th Anniversary Commemorative Service
The Shinbashira’s Message
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)