The Significance of the Shinbashira – June 2013 Sermon

Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the June Monthly Service here at 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!

Next Sunday is Father’s Day so if I don’t see you next Sunday, I would like to wish all the fathers a happy father’s day. Thank you for your love and nurturing.

The Significance of the Shinbashira

As most of you know, the new Bishop Installation Service will be held this Saturday on June 15th in the presence of the Shinbashira, who is the “main pillar” of Tenrikyo. That’s what the literal meaning of Shinbashira is: “main pillar” or the head of the Tenrikyo Church, such as the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church. During his stay in Hawaii, he has set aside time to visit several Hawaii churches, including Pearl this Friday, on June 14th.

To get a sense of the significance of his visit, we need to realize that there are 17,000 Tenrikyo church around the world. He will probably never visit all 17,000 Tenrikyo churches in his lifetime. So we are very, very, very honored that he will visit us.

The present Shinbashira is Zenji Nakayama, who is the 4th Shinbashira since Oyasama’s grandson Shinnosuke became the 1st Shinbashira.

The Shinbashira is our spiritual leader. He is the one who officiates at Church Headquarters services and ceremonies. Oyasama bestows the Truth of Sazuke through the Shinbashira when one returns to Jiba to receive it, and grants divine sanction through the Shinbashira for various church affairs, such as new church head minister, church construction, etc. He also issues instructions, such as Instruction Three.

In the Life of Oyasama it says that, when the first Shinbashira, Shinnosuke, was 16 years old, his father, Shuji passed away for rebirth. Shinnosuke then became the head of the household at the age of 17 and inherited the Nakayama family name and property. At this young age he underwent various hardships such as interference by police and protecting Oyasama.

When the early followers were attempting to obtain civil authorization from the government, they were considering appointing another person as the head of the church. At that time Shinnosuke was only 17 years old.

In establishing Shinnosuke Nakayama, her grandson, as the first Shinbashira during a time when the followers were Oyasama said,

“Sah, sah, indeed the Shinbashira is thin at present. But when flesh is added to him, no one knows how great he will become.”

Life of Oyasama p. 201

Her words awakened the followers instantly and they now understood that as long as they continued discussions with followers with a separate agenda, they would never be in accord with the will of God the Parent. Later She said,

“The core is thin. When the flesh of sincerity is added, he will grow stout.”

Oyasama often said, “Shinnosuke, the Shinbashira,” clearly indicating the core of the Path. Despite this, the attempts to appoint someone without such divine destiny to that post of responsibility, however temporary and whatever the reasons for haste, show how far off the mark their minds were.

To paraphrase: To add flesh to the core means for you to add the “meat” of your sincerity to the Shinbashira. If you add the flesh of your sincerity to Shinnosuke in accordance with the will of God the Parent, although he is still young and inexperienced, he will become a splendid Shinbashira. Life of Oyasama p. 204-205.

Here in the United States, the concept of leadership is quite different and shouldn’t be compared to the Shinbashira. Here, a candidate for political office campaigns and has show the people that he is worthy of the office after surviving much criticism. He is then elected by the people. However, in both cases, we should give them our support and respect, as they are our leaders.

Nine years ago when the present Shinbashira came for the mission headquarters 50th Anniversary, I was able to witness something so amazing. The 50th Anniversary reception was held in a large tent on the side of the mission headquarters sanctuary to accommodate the large crowd and also where the Shinbashira was seated. As the entertainment drew to a close heavy rain started to fall. When the entertainment ended, the Shinbashira stood up to leave and everyone stood up and an applauded. The attending ministers rushed to get umbrellas. However, as soon as he stepped out of the tent, the heavy rain stopped all of a sudden like someone turning off the faucet. I said to someone, close to me, “Did you see that?” I forgot who it was, but he was one of Shinbashira’s assigned drivers and he said, “Yup, the same thing happened where ever he went! When it when rained while he was in the car, it would stop just when he got out.”

In the Shinbashira’s visit to Hawaii and to our church, let all of us put the “meat” of our sincerity to the Shinbashira and welcome him with joy and gratitude.

Thank you for your attention.

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