December 27, 2008, HQ Church, Chungpadong, Seoul, Korea
Let us generate the feeling of empathy and compassion. Let us say in our hearts, “I will not let you steal my joy anymore. I release you and I forgive you, I will not let you steal my time anymore. I liberate you. I will not let you steal my energy, my thoughts or my mind anymore. It is not good for you (to do that). I free you from your suffering. In God and True Parents’ name, aju.”
Yeon Ah nim:
Good afternoon, brothers and sisters! (Good Afternoon). Thank you!
We are welcoming all of you in the sanctuary today. In 2008 so many things happened and I don’t know how fast 2008 past by but one thing I know is that whatever happened in this year was God’s grace and happiness and True Parents’ love. And I believe that there will be more blessing and more love in 2009 for all of us.
Brothers and sisters, we deeply appreciate your support and love for our ministry and we will do our best in 2009. And remember, a great, great 2009 is ahead of us. AJU!
Hyung Jin Nim:
Brothers and sisters let’s give it up for 2009! Let’s give it up! It’s going to be the best year yet.
I want to share with you from Cheon Seon Gyong 531 today. Father says, “By centering on love and through love, God and humankind become one. This is because they both absolutely need love. And what kind of love does God need? He wants absolute love. And what about you? It is the same for us. Just like God, all of us need that absolute, that unique, that unchanging and eternal love. We must all resemble God in this way.”
Brothers and sisters, I want to always bring our attention back to that. Of course, the great Saint Paul said that without love all the faith in the world, even as great as to move mountains, is nothing.
And True Father always teaches us that in our lives it’s so important to appreciate and validate and to nourish those relationships that are filled with love. It’s so important to understand that when we give (invest) into those relationships we receive back ten times more. And that when we nourish those relationships that not only they nourish us back but they (also) nourish all the people that are connected to that relationship.
Father is always teaching us the Four Great Realms of Heart, the relationship of parents and children, of brothers and sisters, and of husband and wife. These are powerful relationships through which the power of the love of God can be communicated.
Brothers and sisters, during this Christmas season and New Year it’s so important to always remember that, as we’re now passing by 2008, it was a great Year. Let’s give it up for 2008! Come on, it was a great year! (Applause). We have a lot of victories. We have a lot of things that we overcame together.
Brothers and sisters, and I do believe that 2009 is going to be better. Some experts tell you that economy is getting worse and it’s going to all get worse and all of us will go to be in trouble. And we can listen to that, or maybe we can believe that, but in some point we have to disturn that off and say, “I’m going to believe in the better future for me. I’m going to believe in a better day! And I am going to fill up my heart with hope because without hope I’m going to be nothing! And without hope the enemy is going to look at me and he’s going to be laughing. So I’m going to keep my heart filled with joy and laughter, and during this Christmas Season and beyond I’m going to bring that to 2009, and I’m going to have my best year yet!”
This is the attitude that we should be taking into 2009, brothers and sisters. When we do that we will bring that absolute, that eternal, that unchanging love that Father is talking about, into our lives into our relationships, into our finances, brothers and sisters, we’re going to do it all. And I see that all of you are going to have a great 2009. We’re going to be more victorious, we’re going to be more mature. We going to have more things that we overcome together and we will have more joy and laughter every single day. If you believe that, let’s give it up for God, brothers and sisters. (Applause).
Once again I want to always remind you, brothers and sisters, that when we come to service that we always need to start with the right mind set. It’s always so important to focus and meditate on the way God looks at us, as opposed to the way we may even look at ourselves. When we look at ourselves we see that we’re not perfect, we’re not adequate sometimes. We make mistakes; we say the wrong things at times.
Brothers and sisters, we have to know that each day we can grow, each day we can get better, and when God looks at us He always sees hope and potential. And so we want to always start with the Principle view. The Principle viewpoint is that when God sees us, He sees us with divine value, unique value and unchanging value. He sees His children as those whom He’s been waiting for thousands and thousands of years. That’s the preciousness that He sees within us. So we have got to believe that, we have got to know that we have it on the inside, and we have to develop it so that it comes true.
Brothers and sisters, once again welcome to our service. Let’s give the glory and joy that we will receive today. Let’s sing those songs of praise. When we sing praise, when we sing those praises, they go up and blessings come down. When we inspire God and give Him the “kamdong” (move His emotions) that brings blessings down. That’s inspires Him and He pushes angels out of the way to just come down here. He wants to come down here and be amongst us. Brothers and sisters, let’s invite Him. Let’s have a great service. Return the glory to Him and True Parents. Once again, welcome.
I heard an interesting story. A couple went to the doctor to get a checkup. After the husband’s checkup, the doctor called the wife into his office alone. He said, “Madame, your husband is suffering from a very severe stress disorder. It could take his life. If you don’t do the following, your husband will surely die. This is what you must do: each morning you must fix him a healthy breakfast, be pleasant at all times, for lunch make him a nutrious meal, for dinner prepare an especially nice meal for him, don’t burden him with any chores, don’t discuss your problems with him, no nagging, it will only make his stress worse. If you can do this for the next 10 months to a year, I think your husband will regain his health completely.”
On the way home the husband asked his wife, “Honey, what did the doctor say to you? He said he had something serious to say.” She replied, “He said that you’re going to die.” Laughter
Main Sermon by Hyung Jin Nim:
We have to understand that in living the blessed life one of the keys is to understand that we have the power of the grace of God, that God’s grace is a phenomenal power in our lives. It’s not a passive thing that we receive; it is an amazing power in our lives. God’s grace gives us the power to overcome great obstacles, it gives us the power to overcome and move through challenges that we never dreamed we could move through. It gives us hope when we have fallen into hopelessness and despair. God’s grace is one of the greatest power we can have in our lives.
Brothers and sisters, let’s look at some of the world scriptures. Let’s look at Christianity in I. Corinthians, “God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.” You see again, God never gives us a temptation or a challenge that’s too big for us to handle. This is what the Scripture is saying. He never gives us a challenge without giving us a way to escape it, to get beyond it and be victorious and overcome.
Brothers and Sisters take a look at the Islamic tradition, the Koran, “God is the best to take care of man, and He is the most merciful of those who show mercy. You may have grace in your life, you may receive grace from your parents, your spouse, friends and teachers, but there is no one above the grace of God.” That’s the teaching here. In our lives, it is so important to understand the power and the greatness and the vastness of God’s grace and that it is present and that it is alive in our lives.
Let’s take a look at Buddhism, Lotus Sutra, 5th verse, “I appear in the word like unto this great cloud to pour enrichment on all living beings.” Again, the grace of the Divine is pouring enrichment on all living beings.
Let’s look at our True Father’s words,”Why did God create religion? To give us grace, but we cannot receive it for free. We have to fulfill the condition of dedicating our lives more than even a king does. We receive God’s grace as the result of establishing such a condition. If you have experienced the life of prayer you can understand this. Through prayer life you can receive the greatest energy.
We were just talking about this today, in the beginning of the service, when we said, “When we send those praises up God sends that grace down.” We have to do something; we can’t just sit around passively waiting,”God when is my grace going to come, when is my dream going to come to pass? God you promised me this, you promised me this potential, why isn’t it coming to pass?”
Brothers and sisters, it never works that way. We always have to be on the offensive side, we have to be moving forward, we have to move actively towards God’s grace, we have to be sending those praises up, shouting hallelujah in times of difficulty, etc. That’s when we catch God’s attention.
When I was young I actually believed that I had no limitations in my physical body. What I understood through going through many ordeals is that I DO have limitations. When we don’t eat we perish, when we don’t breathe we perish. We have limitations as a physical being. We have limitations in our body, even in our intellect and our thought processes. Once we understand that we are not omnipotent, that we can’t create the entire universe as God does, then we understand that we have to lean on Him for some strength. Sometimes I can’t handle it alone, sometimes I feel too weak to overcome some circumstance and obstacles and I have to rely on God. I have to say,”God please help me. God I still believe in You, get me through this valley. Show me a way through these shadows so I can find a way to Your light.”
In my own life, in practicing martial arts or sports, I always thought I can just train my body to reach this incredible level of invincibility. But I realized that this is totally false. I injured myself so many times. I realized that the physical body has limits. Especially when my brother Young Jin Nim passed away, it was a big thing for my entire family. We realized that life doesn’t go on forever, that our physical life has a limit. There are limitations on our life span, on our age. We can go anytime.
But instead of looking at that and saying, “Dread and doom, doom and gloom, terrible, terrible,” putting on my grave clothes, going around in the graves, we decided to take off the grave clothes and put on the praise clothes. We realized that it is more important to be grateful for the people who are around, that it is more important to live a more meaningful life, to share, to help others while we’re moving through life. Even though the time is short, so what? It’s worth it. It’s worth it, it’s enriching, it’s amazing. God gives us this incredible blessing, maybe just a second, maybe just a year, maybe 10 years. But God gives us that incredible moment.
When I studied religion and practiced spiritual training, etc, I realized that I wasn’t doing it alone. Lots of times I had to fight and muster up strength in myself alone and get through those obstacles, but I realized that a lot of the great teaching of True Father, of the great teachings of the world’s religions, gave me tremendous inspiration. They gave me tremendous strength and hope. They gave me grace; True Father’s words gave me grace in those times of struggle.
In high school most of my friends were African-American, mostly coming from the Gospel tradition. We don’t see that kind of Gospel spirit here in Korea. In the Gospel tradition, praise music is one of the most central practices. It’s not just singing. It’s a spiritual practice. Why is that?
One African-American minister explained it like this, “Praising God especially during bad times is a weapon. It’s a weapon of peace. When the devil is coming against you, then the praise confuses him. It confounds him. It sends him into oblivion. He doesn’t know what to do.”
If you go into a black gospel church you will hear the minister singing. It’s called ‘whoopology’ and it’s a type of ministering practice and style. You will see the black minister singing (Hyung Jin Nim sings), “Hallelujah, God is Good! He is good all the time! Somebody say hallelujah! I am victorious in God! I know God loves me! He loved me yesterday, He will love me tomorrow, and God loves me, heyyyyy!” (Lots of cheers from audience)
You will hear that kind of praise music in the gospel tradition. You have to understand that this is like a practice. It’s actively challenging the opposition. The minister said this, “When we’re in a situation it is so easy to get down on ourselves, to think, ‘I can’t get through this, God, I’m never going to do this. I don’t have the talents to do this.’ That’s when they start dancing and the Holy Ghost comes down. It’s an incredible atmosphere in there. When the enemy sees you and you’re happy in the midst of the ordeal, the enemy says, ‘What’s wrong with this man? What’s wrong with the woman? She’s lost her mind! She should be crying, she should be sorry, down and out, knocked out. Why is she standing up there praising God like a crazy woman?’ It confuses the enemy and it gives us strength in our lives.”
We realize that through offering praises to God we actually get strength, we get strength from God’s grace. And in this particular gospel tradition it’s such an important practice.
Jesus was on the cross, blood was streaming down from his side and his hands and his feet, and all the mockers around him were saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, why don’t you save yourself? I thought you said you could save yourself, that you are God Almighty, you said you are the Truth, the Way and the Life, so why don’t you come down from that cross?” (Luke 23:34). They were mocking him on the cross. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”
You see, Jesus understood something. He requested God’s grace while he was being crucified, in the midst of the crucifixion. But he did something more, something amazing. He did not only request grace for himself, but he requested grace for his persecutors. He requested grace. He said, “God, forgive my murderers, forgive the people who are crucifying me, oppressing me and pinning me to the cross.” Jesus knew that while he was going through the hell of the crucifixion that God had goodness not only for him, but that He had goodness for all, even for the people that were against him.
In the Eastern tradition there is also that understanding of relying on that other power to reach liberation from suffering. Particularly when we look at Buddhist tradition, we see a lot of the meditation practices as the core practice of spiritual discipline we commonly think of. But when you understand Buddhism in its larger spectrum, we see one tradition, very interesting, that many scholars have compared with Protestant types of spirituality and religiosity. There is a belief that instead of meditation and strict religious discipline, etc, that the chanting and praising of Buddha Amitabha’s name is what is needed to be free from the cycle of suffering. When you come into a temple here in Korea, you will hear monks chanting, and you may wonder, “What are these monks chanting?” They are actually chanting “Praise Amitabha!” That’s all they say. And “Praise the compassion!”
A lot of our Japanese Brothers and Sisters are from the Jodo Shinshu School. They were taught that, of course, the chanting is not the most important thing, but that strong faith in the power of the Buddha Amitabha and faith in the grace was most important. That means that we as human beings are not omnipotent, and that humbly relying on the grace of God, the grace of the Buddha, will lead us into freedom from suffering. They teach that the chanting of the Buddha’s name is not only profitable for oneself, but again, like Jesus prayed, the praise impacts and influences and plants the seed of liberation in other beings.
We hear the metaphor of the rain clouds in many of the world’s traditions, “The rain clouds rain on the highs and the lows, the weak and the powerful.” God’s grace is open to all, and it i
s in our lives, it is active, not sitting around. It is active and it is powerful. It is important for us in our lives to resemble this grace, not only to receive it but also to be able to have this strength to give it away, to give it to others around us, even, as Jesus said, to give it to our oppressors.
We are going to take time during this service to do a small visualization practice.
Let’s visualize someone who has hurt us in some way, who has said something negative towards us, who has said something like, ” You cannot actualize your dreams.” Let’s visualize that person, who said that negative statement towards us. Let’s visualize that person’s face, very angry, filled with anger. Let us stay very calm as we see that person right in front of us, screaming and cursing, very angry. Let us stay very calm.
In our hearts let us simply say, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Let us realize that they are unhappy because they are hurting others in order to feel meaningful in their life. They suffer greatly by creating more suffering and oppression for others. They also suffer greatly. Let us generate the feeling of empathy and compassion. Let us say in our hearts, “I will not let you steal my joy anymore. I release you and I forgive you, I will not let you steal my time anymore. I liberate you. I will not let you steal my energy, my thoughts or my mind anymore. It is not good for you (to do that). I free you from your suffering. In God and True Parents’ name, aju.”
Brothers and Sisters, it’s important to understand that when we’re walking the walk of faith, walking in God’s presence, it’s not always rosy. There will inevitably going to be opposition, there’ll be times when we’re challenged, when archangels come in our path and say, “You’re never going to do that, you’re crazy, you’re never going to actualize that dream.”
But in those moments it’s important to not get caught up in that, to not get stuck, to not get stagnant in that situation. It’s so important to quickly move on. That is the power of Grace. When we understand the power of grace, it gives us the power to move freely into our future. It doesn’t hold us to the past.
In our lives, Brothers and Sisters, let us also know that giving grace quickly, forgiving small offenses – when somebody says something at the office, rubbed you the wrong way, really insulted you – don’t think about it all day, don’t call five friends to tell them about it; don’t meditate on it all day, don’t think about it, don’t do that.
The more you do that the more you’re going to suffer. The more you do that, the more it’s going to get into your thoughts, the more it’s going to actually convince you that you are what that person said. The first thing we have to do in that circumstance is give grace quickly. Give them grace and move on. Pray for them,”Father, I’m going to pray for them. I hope that they’ll be happy one day. I’m not going to let that negative statement stay in my mind. I’m not going to let that hold me down; I’m going to move with freedom into my future.”
We have to have that kind of courage and strength. I know too many people who live life working through different circumstances and situations in life, saying, “I can’t believe what that person said to me! Can you believe that person said that to me?” They want to talk about it for an hour, two hours, and three hours. The more you talk about it, the more it gets into your mind. The more it gets into your mind, the more it’s going to plant those roots into your heart. The more then we will actually become that “tree”. Get those roots out quickly, send the grace out quickly, give them the grace quickly, pull out that weed and move forward into your flower garden.
Hallelujah, give it up for True Parents!
We have to understand that 2008 is like that. We went through so many things in 2008. If God has been good to you in 2008, let’s give Him some applause. Let’s give it up to God! He has definitely been good.
We have to understand, Brothers and Sisters, that at the end of the year it’s so tempting to start thinking about what we didn’t do, ”Oh, I made the New Years Resolution that I wanted to lose 20 lbs, but I couldn’t do it.” Better think,”Honey, you lost five pounds, so give yourself some credit!” See what I mean? Brothers and Sisters, we have to always be on the positive side. Even though we may not have actualized all the goals that we put up, wait a minute! Think about it! Think about the big picture! God has got you through many obstacles, many victories, he made you move and progress towards those goals!
That’s the process we have to see, we have to understand. God is moving us, He’s walking with us, He’s guiding us. He’s not just going to wait until we fulfill our goal and then gives us a lot of accolade. God is walking with us; He wants to walk with us each step of the way. That means when we take a step forward and then take a step back, God is still going to be there with us. We have to always remember that His grace is a power that is active in our lives. It’s not a passive entity; it is a power.
During ministry I realized that one of the keys is to be humble enough to ask for help. One thing I learned is to be humble enough to ask for grace. When I need help in making decisions, or when I need help organizing or managing the organizations that I have to manage, I ask for help, “God give me wisdom. God give me intuition. Give me a sense where I should go?”
Then of course I seek wise counsel. Brothers and Sisters, it so important to have wise counsel, people you can count on and trust, whose advice has proven fruitful, whose advice is wise. I seek the advice of my brothers and sisters, I seek their counsel to help me move through difficult times.
Sometimes I don’t want to burden them, so sometimes I ask my wife, I say, “Omma, I need a prayer. Please pray for me, I need some prayer today. Give me some strength.” My wife is always there to pray for me. She is always there whenever I ask. I’m so grateful. I want to give a round of applause for my wife, my messiah, my savior!
It is so important that when we’re sensing insecurity or sensing uncertainty in our lives, when we’re scared or in fear, that we understand that those things are ok, that they are normal in our life. When you walk through your life, you will feel scared at times. That is normal, that’s ok. Remember, you are not alone; God is always there. I realized that when I’m unsure and I ask God, “Bless my wisdom, my decision making,” I realized not to stop there. Jesus, on the cross, he didn’t stop at asking God, “Give me grace, give me salvation.” Jesus asked to extend that grace further. Just like Jesus, when we pray during difficult circumstances, when we’re asking God to give us strength, let’s also extend that to others, “God, give me strength, and also if there’s anybody else that needs strength today, that’s going through my circumstance, God give them strength, too. God give them the wisdom, too, certainty, too, grace, too.”
When we extend that beyond ourselves, Brothers and Sisters, then we can truly have the courage to share and give grace. That’s the key to receiving even more of God’s grace.
Brothers and Sisters, I realized that grace is a power, but also, when we understand the power of grace, we understand our own humanity. It’s a sign of humility and gratitude. We say, “God, I can’t do everything alone. I’m not omnipotent. I can’t do it alone. I need You, I need You Father, I need You to help me through it. The rains are beating down on me too hard, the waves are too high, the storm is too dark, I can’t get through this, God, please help me through this.”
When we ask for that, it’s a sign of humility. It’s a sign that’s saying, “I acknowledge that You are here with me and that You want to be with me through this circumstance.
You want to be with Your children.”
Brothers and Sisters, when God hears those words, He’s not disappointed in you. He’s not feeling terrible, saying,”Look, how weak that child is!”
When my child is calling out to me, when he falls down and scrapes his knee and calls, “Daddy, Daddy, come save me!”, then I go to him and say, “Son, you just scraped your knee, let’s get up, I’ll hold your hand; let’s get up. You do fifty; I do fifty.”
God is always there for us. He may not do 100% for us, because He knows that would not be good for us. He knows we need to be stronger; we need to develop more. Brothers and Sisters, let’s understand that on our way to the world stage, the world temple, we’re on God’s ship, and on this ship there will be many storms that we’ll encounter. There’ll be many winds and rains and many different types of waves that try to collapse the ship.
Let’s remember that God is good and has grace, that He gives us grace, that He gives us the power of that grace. Brothers and Sisters, at the end of 2008, let’s understand that grace is a power, it’s God’s power. When we give grace quickly in our lives, when we forgive people quickly, when we just move on, then we’re doing what God does. We are not holding on to that. We are giving grace and just moving on. Just like in that Gospel tradition.
One of the things we (at home) love to do is turning on some gospel music. I sing like a crazy man in my house. When I’m in the shower I’m a professional singer. When I come out, it is almost ruined. When we go with the kids and we sing those songs, many times the kids ask, “Why are you singing so loud, Appa?” “Because Appa’s happy! Happy day, good day!”
Praise is a weapon; it’s a weapon of peace. It gives us peace of mind because it helps us meditate on God’s goodness, on His power, on the way He wants to be involved in our lives. Even though we are going through the darkest situations, darkest hells, let’s remember that God is always there. Let us give Him that praise, let us say, ” I’m not going to let this circumstance get me down, it’s not going to scare me, even though it’s coming against me so hard, I’m going to keep singing, keep dancing, keep praising God with joy and laughter.”
Remember what that minister says, “It confuses the enemy. The enemy will say, ‘You lost your mind!’ ”Yes, we lost our minds, but we are happy. We lost our minds in God, but we are happy. That gives us respect, brothers and sisters, to get through it.
To understand that God’s grace is showering down upon us is one of the main practices. God’s grace is unlocked and unleashed when we do our part, when we give God that energy and that joy. When we turn it back, all flood gates open up and it comes right into our lives.
Brothers and Sisters, let’s remember that in our lives in 2009! Let’s make that determination that when an archangel comes my way, when an obstacle comes my way and tells me, “You’re not going to make it, you are inadequate, you can’t do it,” when that comes your way, lets make the determination to say, “Thank you” and just move on. Just tell your neighbor now, “Thank you and I’m moving on.” Come on, let’s tell it.
Brothers and Sisters, in 2009 we are going to have that kind of attitude. Whenever a circumstance tries to get us, we are going to use that praise power, that positive power, to get through that and be victorious.
Let’s understand the humility of grace. To request grace is very important in our spiritual lives. There are times in your life you just have to ask,”God, hold me, I need Your help. Tell me that You love me.” If you do this sometimes, it’s ok. Also at the same time, let’s be big enough to give God’s praise, God’s mercy, to others, to forgive others, to give God’s grace when people need it, give them the power when people need it.
When we do that then God’s grace comes twofold, threefold into our lives. Brothers and Sisters, if we live like that, I do believe 2009 we’ll see more victories, more illumination and more peace. We will live that blessed life and be a great blessing to this world.
If you accept this message let’s give it up to God and True Parents.
Transcribed by: Pamela Stein
Edited by: REv. Bruno Klotz