In the altar room, first harvests of the season and agricultural produce as offerings to God gathered from throughout the country were crammed together. With the sound of the koto, officiants entered. The officiant then read aloud the Opening Prayer written by Kyoshu-sama and said, “Together with members all around the world, we praise the glory of God’s divine work. To respond to the deep grace and love of God, we offer the first harvest of the year in front of Your altar. Together with this harvest, we offer our own life, consciousness, and soul in the name of Messiah, which is one with Meishu-sama, together with all humanity, all our ancestors and all of creation. On this auspicious day, we hold the Harvest Thanksgiving Service.” After the offering of the pine branch (symbol of appreciation) by the officiant and Rev. Shirasawa, all attendees prayed the Amatsu Norito and Zengen Sanji. Next, the hymns were sung and after the reading of the teaching, “The Principles of Nature Farming,” Rev. Shirasawa channeled group Johrei and a member shared their faith experience of gratitude (one in the morning and one in the afternoon).
Rev. Shirasawa, who stood to give a greeting, opened by reflecting on the changes of the church this past year and said, “There has not been another year that [the church] has been greatly shaken, a year that an entirely new divine work has developed so greatly.” He also once again expressed his gratitude to Su no Hikari Kyodan. Due to their enormous cooperation, it was possible to materialize the service.
And in regard to the “first harvest” mentioned in the Opening Prayer for the service, he said that it is the general term for the year’s first harvest of grains, vegetables, fruits and suchlike. This is the expression of God who raises and nurtures all things. In His work of Creation that does not stop for a moment’s rest, we are being nurtured in order to become God’s children and we are to offer “our very own heart and our very own body” as God-given first harvests.
Next, he gave a look into Kyoshu-sama’s visits to Korea—a first for successive Kyoshus—as well as Uwajima in Shikoku, Matsuyama, Hiroshima and Kita-Kyushu, together with his wife Mayumi-sama and Masaaki-sama along with their personal exchanges with the members. Furthermore, he reported on such matters like Masaaki-sama’s visit to Australia from the end of November and that Kyoshu-centered divine work is progressing in a big way with certainty.
And he spoke his mind saying, “The spirit with which Meishu-sama founded Sekai Meshiya Kyo (World Church of Messiah) and that Meishu-sama himself embodied “to be born anew as a Messiah,” is the true nature, the long-awaited good news of the salvation of humanity—we have been entrusted with the mission to proclaim this to the whole world. I was able to realize that it is for this that I exist. I believe that that in itself is my salvation. Through the distribution of the soon-to-be-completed leaflet, “Who We Are: We were born on earth to become God’s children (revised version)” and efforts in “Donations of Light,” Rev. Shirasawa called on everyone, “Let’s take part in the divine work of creating the future that God advances without a moment’s rest. I ask all of you for your combined effort.”
In conclusion, he called on everyone saying, “In the name of Messiah, which is one with Meishu-sama, with Kyoshu-sama at the lead, let us make efforts to learn and practice in this entirely new faith with ‘Always one spirit with Kyoshu-sama’ as our motto and walk together with great hope in our hearts.”