The Importance of the Service

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for making the time to attend the February Monthly Service at Tenrikyo Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings. I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SERVICE

Last month, we talked about how we forget our obligation to God. Today we will discuss how not to forget our obligations to God the Parent.

If you recall we talked about the blessings of natural phenomena, such as: fire, water, and wind; and about how we are kept alive by these wonderful blessings. Do you remember the question, ‘which would you rather have a bag of air or bag of bread? Most of us would choose the bag of bread, but when we really think about it, we should choose a bag of air, because we wouldn’t survive even a few minutes without air.

But how do we not forget our obligations to God? How do we not take it for granted, God’s love for us? Last month we mentioned hinokishin, which is helping others on a daily basis as a way to say thank you to God the Parent. But there is another important way. What is it?

It is through the Service.

Yes, some of you have heard it time and again. But that is how important the service is. It is the basic way to salvation.

In the songs to the Service: the Mikagura-uta Song 6, it says:

     Fourth, I am pleased that you have followed to join the Service.
          This Service is the fundamental way for salvation.

The first sentence says ‘I am pleased that you have followed to join the Service.’ That means that God is happy that you performed the Service. Have you ever asked God, ‘God, what do you want me to do?’ Well, this is your answer: God wants you to do the Service. But notice that God doesn’t say, ‘Do the Service!’ Why? This is just my thoughts, but notice what it says exactly, ‘I am pleased that you have followed to join the Service.’ The part ‘you have followed to join the Service.’ It means that God is happy to see you willingly follow to join the Service. Not because you were ‘ordered’ to do so unwillingly.

The next sentence says ‘This Service is the fundamental way for salvation.’ What does fundamental mean? It means ‘basic’, that the Service is the basic way to salvation.

In order to be good or skillful in anything, we must practice the basics. In baseball: throwing and catching; in basketball: dribbling, passing and shooting the basket; and in soccer: dribbling the ball with your feet. The really good players practice the basics everyday. It is the same with faith and the service’ you ‘practice’ faith by sticking to the basics and fundamentals. By performing the service everyday we can sweep away our mental dust and thereby receive timely blessings.

In the Ofudesaki it says:

     There is nothing that I cannot teach,
     But there is no one who listens with a purified mind.
     III: 20

     If you quickly purify your mind and listen,
     I shall give you all of My teachings on everything.
     III: 21

God wants to teach us everything, but we are not listening, we cannot understand what God is saying. Why?

Our minds are so clouded with dust. What are the dusts of the mind? They are: miserliness, covetousness, hatred, self-love, grudge-bearing, anger, greed and arrogance. I don’t want to dwell too much on dust, but we are basically talking about selfish or self-centered thinking.

God gave us our minds so we have free use of our minds. Due to the free use of our mind we tend to accumulate dusts in our minds.

In the Ofudesaki, we read:

     This dust is difficult to sweep away
     But if you only begin the service…
     XIII: 22

     Throughout the world, God is the broom for the sweeping,
     of the innermost heart. Watch carefully.
     III: 52

So how do we purify the mind? Through the Service we can purify the mind. Once we purify our mind of the mental dusts, we can learn to be joyful of whatever we see, whatever we hear and whatever happens.

As most of you know, we are experiencing an environmental disaster in the form of global warming. The sea level is rising due melting ice caps causing low islands to be covered with sea water. Also extreme weather is said to be caused by global warming.

What causes global warming? It’s from the heat and air pollution from factories, cars and power plants burning oil and coal to create electricity. Scientists have been warning us for many years, but we didn’t listen or take it seriously, why? It is because of our greed. Our minds have been so clouded with the dust of greed that we couldn’t see or we refused to see, we refused to accept the findings of the scientists. Now the cause of the global warming is so obvious that we cannot ignore it. We must start using less: less energy, less gas, less of everything and learn to make good use of things.

This is why it is so important to do the Service. The Service will help us to ‘see’ clearly, what is happening and what we must do.

What do we say in the service? Please look at the Mikagura-uta book.

It says:

     Sweeping away evils (or bad things) please save us
     Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.

We repeat this 21 times.

Then after we have purified our minds, God the Parent teaches us something very important. In the next verse, God teaches us about the creation. It says:

     Just a word (to catch our attention)
     Listen to what God says
     I never tell you anything wrong.
     Representing earth and heaven
     I have created husband and wife.
     This is the beginning of the world.

In a nutshell, this is the truth of creation in Tenrikyo. Just a word’

Next on what we should do, the next verse says:

     Sweeping away evils, hasten to save us.
     All humankind equally purified,
     The Kanrodai.

It means to continue sweeping away evils and to hasten our salvation. Then after all humankind equally purified, we can realize the Kanrodai world or the Joyous Life world for all human beings.

In song and dance God the Parent has given us a precious gift to remember through all generations, the truth of creation and the basic way to salvation. Through the service we can purify our minds, appreciate and give thanks for God’s daily blessings and remember our obligations to God. This is the importance of the Service.

This service may be long for some of us, but it is through this service that we will be saved.

Free DVD’s are available for those who want to do the Service in their own home.


Announcements
1. Our upper church: Tengen Bunkyokai has announced that we have completed the repayment of the loan to build the present church. The Head minister, Rev. Motohiro Nakao, expressed he heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed to the construction fund. Thank you very much!

2. This coming Sunday is Dendocho’s February Monthly Service at 9am.

3. The following Monday is the Tenri Cultural Center Hinokishin Day. I would like to call on all members to contribute by coming out and help clean the Tenri Cultural Center on Monday, February 19. It will be President’s Day holiday so I believe most people are off from work. Nioigake has been reschedule for the following Tuesday.

4. The BGA will be having their annual General Meeting and Spring camp on March 24-26. That’s Saturday-Monday. Monday is Prince Kuhio Day.

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