Staying Strong in Joy

October 31, 2010, Cheon Bok Gung, Yongsan Seoul Korea

Main Sermon:

Brothers and sisters, today I would like to talk to you about staying strong in joy.

Let us begin first with our World Scriptures.

We begin with Mark 13.13, and this is representing Christianity. This is short but very powerful. Let us read together: “He who endures to the end will be saved.” Aju.

This is from Buddhism, from the Uttaradhyayana Sutra 10.34:  “You have crossed the great ocean; why do you halt so near the shore? Make haste to get on the other side.” Aju.

This is Confucianism, from Mencius VII.A.29: “To try to achieve anything is like digging a well. You can dig a hole nine fathoms deep, but if you fail to reach the source of water, it is just an abandoned well.” Aju. Perseverance!

Let us read True Parents’ word. This is from the Second Volume of Collection of Speeches 3.28: “If you stand in a position that is not this, not that, not left, not right, it is not good. Such a position will cause confusion only and can lead to even worse situations. Thus, those who carry the word as someone representing heavenly ethics must take a clear position. If this is wrong, it is wrong. If this is right, it is right. He has the responsibility to set the word as the center and protect it with his life.” Aju.

Brothers and sisters, as you may know, this time is a tough time for our worldwide community. We have many wonderful celebrations in October, but also many different challenges around the world, our global community. It is important during these tough times to always stay strong, but also to stay in joy.

When things are emotionally and spiritually draining, we may quickly want to think of how far we have to go and quickly fall into despair. During those moments, it is important to also remember how far we have come because of the grace of God.

During these times, we can really see the substantial manifestation of the betrayal of God at the Garden of Eden, where his most trusted disciple does the four different fallen natures: not seeing from God’s perspective, leaving his proper position, taking dominion over God’s children, and also the multiplication of evil.

We can see these things physically happening around our world.  When we think about these things, when we contemplate these things, we wonder, how can such people do these things?  People who were proclaiming absolute faith and absolute obedience to True Parents for years and years, how can they do this?

We think about our church worldwide really being hurt, our community trying to be split.  Against our True Parents’ commands and authority, things they have said not to do are being done.  We contemplate the defamation campaigns against members of the True Family that True Parents themselves have placed in positions of authority.  We become so depressed and full of pain when we see these people being involved in these situations.

Never in the history of the Unification Church have we seen this type of organizational betrayal of what True Parents have done. People have always upheld the respect towards the authority of True Parents. At this time, we think about the incredible pain of True Parents.

When I think about this issue personally, I get very depressed about it, and it makes me lose any sense of hope. But it is in these depressing times when we are down and being challenged that we truly need the filial sons and daughters to come and protect True Parents, because as though it may be draining for us, we can imagine how draining it can be for our True Parents.

During these times, I personally try to look at how God has led me in my own life, how far we have come in the last three short years. We started ministry in Mapo Church, a small church of seventy families. The church was so down. It was at a point where we could not mention we were Unificationists.  Nobody had confidence to say “I am a Unificationist” outside. We were not witnessing as a church, we were not sharing our faith, and we were not even teaching the Principle in the churches. This was the situation we encountered three years ago.

The church had been growing negatively for the last thirty years. Nobody felt that there was even a ray of hope for our future, but it was at Mapo that we met so many incredible families. Many of them, of course, were Japanese and Korean, international families that were matched by True Parents, so many amazing families that really showed us that there is hope in this movement.

I remember when we moved from Mapo, and then Father moved us to the headquarters church in Chungpadong.  At the last service we had, we were crying so much with our brothers and sisters, shedding so many tears, thinking we were going to be separated now and not being able to see each other anymore. We were so happy to see them again at Chungpadong. To meet them again and walk with them again was an amazing gift.

It was during that time that we were able to bring the Korean church up from always receiving Japanese members’ blood, sweat and tears and their incredible dedication and support from Japan. We were able to stop that, so that the Korean church would stand strong as an independent church, stand on its own merit as a church that takes responsibility for its missional fee.

We were able to embark on that incredible journey. The church is now growing again nationwide. The church service attendance is up nationwide, and the church is also self-sufficient, meaning we now receive zero from the Japanese church.  What an incredible three years!  We had time to meet so many incredible families, to work with so many people of faith and people of talent, and able to do these kinds of incredible things.

I remember just a year and a half ago when we imagined that we would live to see the day when we could have a strong presence in Seoul, that it would not just be dilapidated churches as were commonplace in our church, but that we would see a representative world headquarters here, and that we would be able to see a sanctuary such as this.

Even one year ago, hardly anybody believed that this would be possible.  In a very short time, within three years, with the blessing of True Parents, and of course, with the whole worldwide membership, we are able to now have a substantial presence in Seoul.  Let’s give it up one time for our Cheon Bok Gung and the world headquarters (applause).

We can hold our heads up with pride. We are not a faith that requires hiding. We can be proud of our faith, proud of ourselves as Unificationists. If we don’t stand up for our own religious rights, nobody will.  We saw that, with the issue of the kidnapping of the Japanese members.  All together as a worldwide movement, we fought for their human rights and continue to do so.

During this time, we can only imagine how painful True Parents’ heart may be. It is a time when the image of the Unification Church is rising again, particularly here in Korea.  It is changing and in a situation where people are respectful. Three years ago, people did not even call True Parents Moon Sun Myung choong jin nim, but they used to just call him Moon Sun Myung shee   when they wrote in the newspaper. That is a very derogatory way to express, in Korean language.

In that kind of situation, we can see incredible things happening in the Unification Movement, but also at the same time, this kind of pain is occurring.  How would True Parents feel?

This week, when I was researching for this sermon, I was able to find a beautiful interview that True Father did in 1972, when he first arrived in America. It was an interview with a famous personality, Al Capp. Some of you probably have seen that.  Many things are incredible about this thirty-minute interview.

During the interview, Al Capp was sitting on Father’s left. That gentleman, who was prominent at that time, was interviewing True Father with a very sarcastic tone. He said at one point, “I know that there are twenty-seven working messiahs on this planet right now as we speak. Reverend Moon, how do you know that you are the only Messiah?  And if you are the Messiah, are all the other ones false messiahs?” He was throwing this kind of sarcastic questions at Father.

What I found amazing was that for thirty minutes, Father was enduring this, answering so incredibly well. When he asked that question, Father said, “Well, I never said with my mouth that I am the Messiah. You are the one saying that I am the Messiah.” He gave incredible answers like this.

The real incredible climax of this interview was at the end. The thirty minutes was filled with sarcasm, laughing at Reverend Moon, but then something incredible happened, which he admits at the end. We don’t have time to watch the whole thing here in service, but you can check it out later. We have just a little portion, the last three minutes.  Let us take a look at that on the video.

True Father’s translator: “He receives messages or revelations from God of what the content will be and he converses with Him.”

Al Capp: “Does God always speak through Mister Moon? Is God speaking through Mister Moon now or does He speak only on scheduled appearances?”

Translator: “He has been contacting him progressively, and gradually conveyed some of the messages at certain times, just like we have a gradual growing stage.  Through his prayers, he is constantly and gradually receiving revelations from God.”

Al Capp: “God, of course, knows all. God knows when this advertisement appears: God speaks today. And at that moment, as Mister Moon is introduced, God begins to speak through him. I mean, no taking any chances on that.  It would be terrible to advertise this and not have Him.”

Translator: “Through his prayers, beforehand, he knows.  That’s why he already spoke here.”

Al Capp: “I myself take a rather light-hearted approach to Mister Moon, and I don’t know if it comes over your television camera, but out of him shines the most enormous good nature, the most enormous good will, the most enormous affection.  I must tell you that during a break in the filming here, he sang the most charming song. I tell you, this is the Messiah I want.  I want him something like this. I am delighted. We still have a few minutes to go.”

Translator: “For the first time since he came to America, he meets a nice person like you.”

Al Capp: “Aren’t you sweet.”

Let’s give it up one time for True Father in 1972 (applause). Did you see how amazing and striking that was? Somebody so sarcastically interviewing True Father turns around at the end and says, “If the Messiah comes, I want him to be like this.” He was mentioning that in the break, True Father sang a beautiful Korean song.  True Father was able to melt him with his heart.

We have to remember that this is 1972. In the year of 1972, True Father was being vehemently attacked in Korea. The Presbyterian Movement, the Christian Movement had already labeled him as a Satan, a heretic, and were attacking him severely.  Even though they were in that situation, True Parents remained strong in joy, exuding the happiness of God.

When I watch and observe True Father, I noticed it is when times are tough that he makes us get up and sing and dance and laugh and do those kinds of things with him, praise God as we are spending time with True Parents. It is in that practice that I have watched True Parents.

It is in that practice that they can chase away the sense of hopelessness, the sense of despair tough times can bring. By making people sing in front of True Parents, True Parents can once again remember, “I am walking with these people.  This person is a good guy.  This person is still walking with me.  We are walking together on this path.” They can find a new sense of hope and energy and strength to have joy, and press on to the next day.

I always remember after observing True Parents that after dancing and singing praise to God and being with the members and spending that kind of incredible time together, True Father always then returns into the created realm, to nature. He goes out to see the love of God in the created world, to give and receive with nature.

When I feel a little down, when I feel bogged down and depressed, I also like to hear a song of praise and sing songs sometimes, but really I personally love going out into nature. From a very young age, when I was stressed out, bogged down in mind or with stress, I would go outside.  I remember training outside in martial arts, always doing those kinds of things in the natural world, feeling the give and receive action.

I remember when I was at the Shaolin Temple; some person there explained to me that in the Tang Dynasty, when the monks were protecting one of the emperors they had just rescued, even though their bodies were tired, they would go and play in nature.  They would go and play with praying mantises and different animals, mimicking their movements, not just for martial arts training, but also to develop compassion for the natural world, for the animals and the different species of the planet, and to give and receive with nature in a new way.

Personally, when I am bogged down and stressed out, going into nature and training in such a way also helps relieve my own heart.  It allows me to give and receive with nature in a new, fresh way, to once again see all the wonderful animals and plants and bamboo leaves and receive new invigoration through that kind of life energy.

This week, I was really bogged down.  In the morning, we were outside and training with the hoonsanims. I think I did too much training and I ended up tweaking my neck a little bit. I ended up having to go and take an MRI this week.  I remember sitting in the hospital and hearing the MRI and the doctors explain, “You have a ruptured disk in the neck, and it is not good. No traveling for you.”

I remember then calling True Parents in the hospital and explaining, “You know, True Parents, I was scheduled to go to Africa this time, but it is cancelled now because I ruptured the disk in my neck.” True Parents, of course, encouraged me.

At the very end, I received a phone IM message from somebody I know. It was a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.  The quote said, on that very timely occasion, “Every time you are angry for one minute, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”  At that very timely moment when I was getting very frustrated and thinking, “Oh, my goodness!  We can’t go visit the members in Africa, we can’t go to America,” all these kinds of things.  In times like this, when you want to fall into despair, you must remember that every minute lost in anger or negative thinking is a minute that is lost of happiness and peace.  It was a metaphor of the situation for me.

In this situation when things are very tough around the worldwide church and we are experiencing this kind of heart wrenching pain, it is also important for us to make the choice.  As one person said, it takes just as much energy to become depressed or to have hope.  It takes just as much energy to do either side. It is all up to the decision we make, whether we are falling into depression and despair or trying to find hope in the times that seem to be filled with despair.

In this situation, I choose to find hope because when I looked at True Father’s words in 1957, True Father already – yes, let’s give it up one time for True Parents and hope (applause) – but in 1957, True Father spoke about this very issue.  He actually predicted this. He prophesied that in the last days, these things would happen; that the people he loves would betray him, that Satan would try to take away the foundation members and True Parents had made with blood, sweat and tears. He predicted this in 1957.  These prophesies he was speaking fifty years earlier are now coming true.  When we see this, we can say True Parents can truly see into the future.  They can truly see and prophesize.  They know what they are talking about when they are predicting the future.

We see these kinds of things are happening now.  Father said it is in the end times that these things will happen.  That is very hopeful too, because it is only after the end times that we see the new beginning. If True Parents were not the Messiah, if they were the false Messiah, this would be a point of despair.

We can feel it is the end of times when all these things are happening.  The betrayal to True Parents and all those kinds of pain and violation of their heart and their parental right would last forever if they were not the real Messiah.  Because they are the real Messiah, because they prophesized this in the past, and because they prophesized that this time would not be eternal, that we would be victorious through this time, and that we would see the age of Cheon Il Guk, I find hope.  I chose to find hope in this time with True Parents and walk forward. (Applauds)

The key is to remember that if God is indeed the parent of humanity, there is no parent on the Earth that understands God’s heart more than True Parents.

If we look at the providential history, we can see, of course, that God experiences the pain, the terror and the agony of the fall.  His most trusted disciple dominates his own children, and throughout history, continues to try to block the providence.  There is no providential figure – when you look at Noah, Moses, Abraham and Jesus – there is no figure that experiences the kind of pain that God experiences in the fall.

Noah experiences the laughter and the mocking he encountered when he was building the arc.  That does not compare to the worldwide mockery and the mocking that True Parents had to experience in their lifetime.

Moses had to walk through the forty days of wilderness, but he had to nowhere near walk through the ninety-year course that True Parents had to walk.

Abraham had to offer one of his children with the heart of offering his children and put Isaac on the altar.  True Parents have already had to offer four of their children to the spirit world.

Jesus was not able to fulfill the four-position foundation because of the cross, and so could not experience the incredible love of the parent-child relationship and the incredible pain that can occur in that relationship, the pain that God endured at the fall of man.

As a central figure in the providential history, only True Parents are experiencing the incredible pain of God when God was in the original creation, when He was right in the Garden of Eden.

In the end, True Parents are not only the victorious ones that come to take the sins from humanity, the Lord of the Second Coming like Jesus was, but they are the ones to take the pain off, take the crosses off of God’s heart and to hold them for God, as a filial son, to walk that path of suffering for the sake of God.

Nobody experienced that kind of violation of their parental right and the pain they had to endure, that God had to endure at the fall, and that True Parents are experiencing right now.

Last week, we met King Hezekiah from the biblical stories and we encountered the Assyrians that were attacking into Jerusalem and conquering all the cities of Judah.  They were moving up to Jerusalem.  We heard that God came down and destroyed the Assyrian armies led by King Sennacherib.

There is an after story.  The scriptures go on to say that God gave Hezekiah the blessing of the great victories because he had to continue to fight small victories.  He was very stressed by that, and he became ill.  It is not only a physical illness, but the Bible also intimates that it is a combination of both physical and mental duress and stress.  It is during that time the famous story of Hezekiah and the wall occurs.  Hezekiah is told by the prophet Isaiah that he has no more time to live, that he quickly has to organize all his things that God would take him very soon.  That is the message God had sent through the prophet Isaiah.

Hezekiah does not take that prophesy at face value and he faces the wall.  He doesn’t turn to any other person any other human being, but he faces the wall. He focuses solely on the greatness of God and he offers his prayer and his faith.  He reminds God of the course that he walked in trying to glorify God, in walking the path of faith.  It is in that moment that God uses the prophet Isaiah to come to him again and tell him that God will bless him with another fifteen years of longevity and also victory for Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Israel.

In the same way, in this time of difficulty when we are experiencing betrayal as a church and True Parents not really being obeyed, and we see this kind of things that are occurring that are tremendously painful for us as a community, we must remember the path that Hezekiah chose.  In that time of difficulty, Hezekiah chose to face the wall, to focus solely on God, to focus solely on God’s goodness.  We take a hint from that and focus our attention on God and True Parents, on hope, and on our ability to move forward.

If we are able to move with that kind of faith and that kind of power we chose to take, as God blessed Hezekiah with health, prosperity and victory of being able to return back to God, I believe God will also bless Unification movement with renewed health, renewed blessing and renewed glory for God and True Parents worldwide.

During this time, brothers and sisters, although it is tough and it is a time of great challenge for us as a community, it is important for us to always remember that we can choose to continually have hope in God.

Let us finish with our final words from True Parents. This is from the 66th volume, the 43rd page.  Let us read together.

“Therefore, in order to be a true person with a steadfastness of unchanging truth, you have to be beyond death.  To be beyond death, you first have to conquer death.  This means there will be a collision at some point between your changeability and unchangeability.  When they collide, your changeable elements will shatter, and only your unchanging elements will remain.  It will be a collision between life and death.  At that time, you must overcome death.  Then you will have life.  It is reasonable that you must pass through this stage on the path to making a relationship with God.”  Aju.

Let us all rise and offer our final prayer to God and True Parents. Let us raise up our hands as if we were wiping the tears from God’s heart and lifting our hands toward the heavens, and let’s pray, gather all of our hearts up towards heaven.

Closing Prayer:

Dearest most beloved Heavenly Father, our most beloved True Parents, we thank you this day.  Father, we want to glorify your name this day.  We want to offer you all the glory and victory, because we know and remember that you are great, that you are in control of the situation, and that through the situation, you are making us see that True Parents are truly the ones who have inherited, who have fully understood your providential pain and suffering, that they are experiencing all the pain and the loneliness, the heart-wrenching betrayal and all the life shattering scorn that you had received.

Father, we pray that True Parents may be vindicated, and that as they take the crosses from your heart, we, as their filial children, can take the crosses from their heart and liberate them, free them from that type of pain.

Father, it is something we wish to do as children of True Parents.  We pray that we may walk the path of that kind of filial piety.  We are truly grateful this day, and we pray that you can remind us of the incredible hope we have as a Unification movement.

Father, things that have been prophesized before are coming to pass, but as the prophesy says, this stage would not last forever but that, with the victory of True Parents and walking together with them, we would see the Kingdom of God on Earth unleashed before our very eyes.

Father, we are so grateful and we are so thankful. We believe in you and we believe in our community worldwide. We believe in our faith and we believe in the filial piety we have to our True Parents of Heaven and Earth.

We thank you so much.  We want to uplift you today. We want to stay strong in joy and give you joy this day. Father, we pray these things with a grateful heart and with all victory and glory returned unto thee.  We pray these things in our own names, as central blessed families here together in our sanctuary, we pray in our own names.  Aju.

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