Tenrikyo Europe Centre

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2014 December Monthly Service Sermon

by Motoharu Kirinuki (Chief of Europe and Africa Section)

We have just completed all together, with joy and spiritedness, the last Monthly service of this year, and for that I am truly grateful.

In addition to having attended yesterday to the Europe Mission Strategy Committee Meeting, I had the opportunity to participate in the Monthly Service of the TEC, and I’m going to share in a few words my thoughts. I beg you to please give me a moment.

Every day, in addition to spreading the path in Europe, in particular in addition to your activities at the TEC, you use your best efforts, each of you according to your position; I thank you sincerely for that.

In September and October, the “Tenri-jiho” made known your participation in the “International Meeting of Prayer for Peace,” your efforts to the activities of the anniversary, the activities of the Tenri Japanese-French Cultural Association and all your efforts in your churches.

It’s not that I myself have done something special, but as head of the regional Section, I am also extremely happy.

In particular, the Jiho of 12th October presents the activities aimed to achieve the “resolves” discussed in the Europe Mission Strategy Committee Meeting, for example the “Caravan of the Mission” and “Palette” that develop around the youth of the region.

Through these activities, the commitment to train the younger generations who were born and raised in Europe and whose native language is not Japanese, the so-called “native generations,” this commitment is an important thing, and if this movement is enriched, it is a promise for the future.

In addition, and this also was mentioned in the Jiho, amid the present pre-anniversary activities, the “Consciousness of Salvation” penetrates the followers from all over Europe, and I am extremely grateful for that.

So you use your best efforts for the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama which will be celebrated on 26th January of the 179th year of Tenrikyo, in a year or so, and I ask you greater efforts to develop your activities in this third year, the final year of the pre-anniversary activities.

During two months, last month and this month, visits by Church Headquarters Officials of all directly supervised churches take place.

These Visits by Church Headquarters Officials have targeted all heads of church and all members of the directly supervised churches committees, and as we approach of the third year, the final year of the pre-anniversary activities, they are intended to reconfirm the objectives determined by each head of church, to review the present situation and clarify how to serve during this last year.

Overseas, Church Headquarters Officials visit the five mission centers that are also directly supervised churches, and here in TEC, I spoke a little about it to the members of the Europe Mission Strategy Committee Meeting.

Today I want to talk about the same thing to you who are here today.

The first point I want to talk to you is what I called just now the third year, the final year of the pre-anniversary activities, activities for the 130th Anniversary of Oyasama which will end in the 179th year of Tenrikyo, on 26th January 2016.  So far, during the 110th and 120th anniversaries, the celebration of the anniversary lasted all year, and during these years, events were held in connection with the anniversary.

But regarding the 130th anniversary, 26th January is precisely the “Day of the Anniversary,” and to this day the Church Headquarters requested clearly that everyone walks towards this date, and not towards the “Year of the Anniversary.”

We, including members of the Overseas Department, we tend to think we still have time, believing that the activities of the anniversary will continue until the end of December.

Of course, the pilgrimage from overseas, especially from Europe, takes time and costs, and raises various other problems, therefore I think it’s hard to celebrate the anniversary of 26th January with everyone.

In this case, many people plan their return to Jiba in April or July.

Therefore, the resolve of the TEC, announced in Info-TEC, includes in its count the number of pilgrims until December.  Yesterday I asked the committee members, heads of churches and of mission centers, to return in January, but I will not ask you the same thing.

But we must not forget that we will make efforts during the final year, without thinking that we have time for the activities of the three years, one thousand days until the month of December following the celebration of the Anniversary.  In the resolve of the TEC, the deadline of the countdown for the administration of the Sazuke is 26th January, as you know, but again I ask you to confirm this.

Regarding the significance of the pre-anniversary activities, the purpose of the activities this time, as you all already know, is that all Yoboku develop a “mind devoted to Salvation” and put it into practice.  As the “Tenri-jiho” of 12th October presented, in the Europe Mission Strategy Committee Meeting of the TEC, you discuss, you take the resolve, you administer the Sazuke proactively.

Let’s start with the “mind devoted to Salvation”: this is not a selfish mind that says “as long as I’m well, all is well,” or “as long as it’s going well now, all is well,” but that says “I want others to be saved,” “I want others to be happy.” It is essential that everyone has the mind he had in the day of origin when he received the Sazuke.

Whatever our social position, we can’t administer the Sazuke to ourselves.

To receive the Sazuke, we attend the Besseki Lectures, that is to say, we listen the same speech constantly repeated. Thus we understand the will of God the Parent, which is that we realize the world of the Joyous Life by helping each other. Then, correcting our egocentric use of mind, which is called dust, we can be reborn with a mind that wants to save others.  Then, with this mind born again, we can receive the truth of the Sazuke.

By the time we receive the truth of the Sazuke, we took the oath to keep our whole life that mind which “wants to save others.”

But human beings are inconstant, and as the days pass, they tend to forget such a mind.

In this season of the pre-anniversary activities, everyone takes again an oath to live with the mind of the day of origin when he received the Sazuke, that is to say, to live daily with the mind that wants to save others and strive to manifest it in his behavior.

About Salvation, there are many people who feel the need to do something special, like nioigake or visiting the homes of the followers.

Surely, particularly in the season of the pre-anniversary activities of the three years, one thousand days, we are asked to resolutely put into practice, by determining our mind, things hard to do in everyday life.

All of you fervent followers who have gathered here, each one determining your mind for the Anniversary, and already making daily efforts for nioigake and salvation, you promote your activities proactively, but some of you are not able, even if they feel like, to move around for the nioigake or for salvation.

What I mean here, of course, is firstly that we are asked a proactive activity that enables to make home visits, to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and to work for salvation, and secondly that we can do every day many salvations around us.

In Europe, some came to undertake missionary activity and they founded a family; their children have grown up, and among them, some have succeeded their parents.

These are the “native generations” mentioned in the Jiho.

There are people who have smelled the fragrance sprinkled by these generations, that is to say, people who live in Europe and became followers of Tenrikyo when listening to the Teaching.

Everyone has his own way to live the faith, but it is important to guide the people, including the members of our own family, so as to ensure they are able to think on the basis of the teachings of Tenrikyo.

In the families of followers of Japan, conveying the faith has become an important task. In particular, strongly conveying the teachings to our children is the priority.

A Japanese proverb says that children grow up watching the backs of their parents, but efforts are to be made so as to accurately convey the teachings to them and to constantly guide them.

If we say that children grow up watching the backs of their parents, it is necessary for the parents to be aware of becoming models. In addition, it is important to convey the teachings accurately and to patiently guide children when they fall ill or experience problems.

Abroad, the ways of thinking are different from that of Japan.

Among them, there are ways of thinking that respects more the human rights than in Japan.

There may also be problems of language.

Even if one conveys the same thing, if the languages are different, then the meaning also differs noticeably.

That’s why I think it will not be very easy, for all of you who are living abroad, to convey the teachings to your children.

Looking at the missionary activities of other regions of the world, we see that it is difficult to convey the faith from one generation to the other to the children of the churches or of the mission centers. The Oyasato Seminar which is held every summer in Jiba in different languages is a way to solve this problem thanks to the sincerity and the efforts of many people.

That’s why I think it’s a real “salvation” to make efforts to deal with care of our children, who are very close to us.  Although it generally speaks of parents and their children, each one has his own soul.

The family members are attracted and connected by innen. So I think it is very important that they look at each other to mature.

This is a teaching a little hard to understand, but when you think about the innen of each family member, we can consider that these innen are reflections of our own innen. I think the true attitude of the believer of Tenrikyo is to mature while rejoicing with the mind of tanno.

This way of walking on the Path enables to see the Joyous Life in the family, and it is also a very good way to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings around us.

I think first that it is difficult to sprinkle a good fragrance around us if there is no peace within our family.

In the Instruction, it says: “Let us ensure that our own families — including husband and wife, who represent the truth of the embrace of heaven and earth — are living in accord with the teachings and implementing mutual help. In this way, let us expand the circle of the Joyous Life, starting right where we are.” I wish you to begin with the salvation of your family.

Of course, it is also important to pay attention not only to children, couples and families, but also to people that we frequent daily on our workplace and in our neighborhood, to get close to them and to convey to them the teaching of Tenrikyo at any time.

I think it is a daily practice of faith as a Yoboku to listen to the people, to contact them while wondering if we can do something for them, or how we can convey to them the teaching of Tenrikyo, even if we do not come out to sprinkle the fragrance or to work for salvation.

Such an attitude enable us to be aware of what we did not notice until now, and to find a wonderful guidance of God the Parent.

It is not easy to return to Jiba because Europe is far away. Moreover, there are necessarily many who have not yet received the Sazuke.

The Instruction invites all Yoboku to practice salvation with a mind devoted to salvation.

But this is not just for people who have received the truth of the Sazuke.

The Yoboku, as useful timbers for the construction of the Joyous Life, are also those who have not yet received the truth of the Sazuke.

I invite you to tell these people to practice the Service and to pray for the salvation of others.

The followers of the Church of Congo Brazzaville can not easily return to Jiba because their conditions differ from those of Europe.

I ask the followers of the Congo to put in their mind the principle of the Service, and to work for salvation by performing the Service.  Therefore, in these pre-anniversary activities, it is very important, not only for Yobokus who received the truth of the Sazuke but also for those who have links with Tenrikyo and have a mid devoted to salvation, to practice salvation around themselves, including in their families.

The resolve announced by the TEC is the collection of the resolves of each member of the TEC. I would like to ask you even more effort as we approach the final year of the activities of three years one thousand days targeting the resove of each one. Let us take the oath to have a mind devoted to salvation, as the Instruction urges us, and to spread the will of the Parent in our practice.

On 26th October, in his sermon at the Autumn Grand Service, the Shinbashira said:

“Since announcing Instruction Three, I have taken every opportunity to ask all Yoboku to engage in salvation work and keep their minds focused on salvation work. As I said at the outset today, this Teaching was given in order to save all humankind; this is the true aim of founding the Teaching.[...]

Salvation work is what most accords with God the Parent’s intention. It is the foremost way to make repayment for blessings we receive. Furthermore, the Ofudesaki says:

Ponder from your innermost heart to understand.
Through saving others, you will be saved.(Ofudesaki III: 47)

This verse indicates that salvation work is not solely for the benefit of others but also helps us be truly saved ourselves. It should be taken as our own concern. If we look around us, we may find people who require our salvation work because of illness or other problems. Salvation work can take a variety of forms. It can be done by anyone as long as there is a willingness to do so. During the present season, I hope that all Yoboku without exception engage in salvation work by doing whatever they can and especially what only they can do.”

Moreover, in the Service prayer during the Grand Service, he said:

“Prior to embarking on the upcoming final year of the ‘three years, one thousand days’ season we set aside for carrying out pre-anniversary activities, ‘Visits by Church Headquarters Officials’ will be conducted from early November to the end of December this year.

With church head ministers at the forefront, all Yoboku will engage in the pre-anniversary activities with an unwavering commitment to fulfill their resolutions and goals, strive to further promote the implementation of salvation work—the main focus of the pre-anniversary activities—and carry out the tasks of the path in unity of mind.”

As the representative of all the followers, he expressed his determination when approaching the final year of the pre-anniversary activities.

Among the pre-anniversary activities of the three years, one thousand days, ‘Visits by Church Headquarters Officials’ will be conducted so as to confirm to the heads and committee members of the directly supervised churches the spirit of Instruction Three.

Then, this principle has been transmitted to all churches.

In the 2nd year of the pre-anniversary activities, “Yoboku gatherings” were held in all countries, and Yoboku have been asked to put this principle into practice proactively.

All of you here have participated in it.

You then reflected in the Tenrikyo Europe Reunion in July about the meaning of the “Yoboku gatherings”, and each of you has raised his consciousness.

This last year is the period of putting in practice.

To those who think being late, I say that it is not too late. I would ask you to use your best efforts until the end, towards the 26th January of the 179th year of Tenrikyo, keeping in mind that this step is the true step. I ask you to manifest together salvation in your behaviors, first towards those around you, and to use your best efforts until the end towards the 130th Anniversary which will take place on 26th January of the 179th year of Tenrikyo.

I hope that your efforts will not be limited to the special pre-anniversary activities, but that they will give good fruit after the celebration. Specifically, I wish that you connect your efforts to anchor your mind devoted to salvation, that you convey the Joy and build the Joyous Life in your household, that you stimulate the “native generations”, all of that in high spirits.

Thank you for your kind attention.