A Blessed 2010 by Rev. Michael Brazil

January 2, 2010, HQ Church, Seoul Korea

   As our senior pastor mentioned in one sermon, we need to really love Jesus. Not just pretending, but genuinely and deeply love Jesus. How can we reach out to our Christian brothers and sisters if we do not love what THEY love?

Opening Prayer:
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
 
Thank you so much for this Holy Day, following True God’s Day, the Day of Victory of Love!
We are so very grateful to be able to be here, at the beginning of 2010, in the Fatherland, with our wonderful and inspiring international family!
 
We’ve come before you, with bowed heads, to seek your words, and understand your direction further in this brand new year!
 
Thank you for the blessed life you have granted us! Thank you for your love, and the lineage that you’ve allowed us! We want to resemble you in heart, mind and body.
 
We didn’t know what it meant to lead a blessed life, until you showed us, through the True Parents.  You have shown us also through the members of the True Family who have sacrificed themselves for your providence.  We wish to remember them especially on this day.

Help us to welcome each day as if it were the first day of the year, to pray deeply and train constantly, so that we can become better parents ourselves. Help us to stretch our heart and soul to grow, to see the world with your eyes.  As we ourselves have been guided and saved by your truth, give us a heavenly kick so that we can reach out to all those around us!
 
Let us stand in your position, as loving parents, brothers and sisters, toward everyone who needs you. Everyone needs you, but doesn’t know you enough to be aware of that.

Heavenly Father, to become parents means to lose/forget ourselves and to become one with you. Please guide each one, to be able to welcome our own Day of Victory of Love, the day to overcome ourselves, to connect another person to you, to share the love and truth that we’ve inherited from you.
 
We are so grateful that we have come to know you, at this time in history.
May this New Year be one of more sharing and multiplying ourselves as true men and women, so that we can accomplish much, to help build your kingdom. With deep thanks and joy in welcoming this New Year, 2010, I offer this prayer, together with all of our brothers and sisters around the world, Aju!
 
 Main Sermon by Rev. Michael Brazil:

So, what day is today? The Day of Victory of Love. It’s a very special day in our church, in our movement, for those who are here for the first time and who are unfamiliar with some of our traditions. And, can anyone tell me which anniversary it is? 27th? Was anyone at the Palace this morning? No one, that’s why you’re here today. Who went to the Palace yesterday? Just a nice, short talk, not too long, six hours! Actually, that’s not so long!

 I received some very good advice, a couple days ago, from someone about my sermons, saying: “When you give your sermon, there is usually three parts to your sermon, that’s good. But I think if there was just one, that would be REALLY good!”  I’m sorry, today I’m going to have two parts, not three parts. I’m working on it.

Before I begin, I’d like you to join me in our World Scriptures. So, let’s begin with our first one from Christianity:
“We rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”  (Romans 5.3-5). So it’s a process we are going through.

Let’s look at Islam:
“O Man! Verily, you are ever toiling on towards your Lord – painfully toiling – but you shall meet Him…You shall surely travel from stage to stage.” (Qur’an 84. 6,19). So it’s talking again about a process, a growth.

Now, let’s look at Buddhism:
“Practicing step by step, one gradually fulfills all Buddha’s teachings. It is like first setting up a foundation, then building the room. Generosity and self-control, like this, are bases of enlightening beings’ practices.” (Garland Sutra 10)
So things that we are to do, that we are to practice, are a step by step process.

And finally Unificationism today:
“We should know that living for the sake of the self brings about evil, but acting for the sake of the whole brings development.” [Sun Myung Moon (133-16, 1984.7.1) CSG, p.1064 ]

We know we have to think about ourselves, but if we only think about ourselves, that creates problems. Like I said today, I wanted to talk about two things, something internal and something external. Yesterday was a special day in our church, in our movement We call it God’s day because we believe that the first of the Year should be offered up to our Creator God, to thank Him for the Blessings we have received. So in our church, we call it God’s Day, and which one did we celebrate yesterday?  The 43rd True God’s Day. What do most people do at the end of the year or at the beginning of a year?

What do most people do at that time? They make New Year’s resolutions, right? It’s common, very natural, I’m sure all of you do it. So everyone has made their New Year’s resolutions? Not too many hands. That’s OK, you can still do it today or tomorrow. But what’s interesting is that most resolutions are typical and quite common.

Let’s look at our first slide. Why are they typical and quite common?

New Year’s resolutions

– Because there are the same as last year.
– They last until Valentine’s day which is about six weeks.
– At least for America, about 20% make it to the second year of fulfilling their resolutions (that is actually pretty high)
Can we become successful with our New Year’s resolutions? The best way of course is to learn from people who are successful, is to learn from the winners.

Let’s look at some popular resolutions, and I’m sure you have done some yourselves.

Popular resolutions
1. Lose weight
2. Pay off the credit card
3. Quit smoking
4. Donate to charity
5. Keep a diary
6. Learn something new
7. Join a gym
8. Get a promotion
9. Be more courteous
10. Drink less alcohol (I hope nobody makes that resolution here)
 
But these are common resolutions that people make, but did you notice something missing? What’s missing from this list of resolutions? We’re missing one category and, if you talk to experts or time management people, they’ll usually tell you that, when making goals, you have to think about your wheel of life. Sorry, not receive and give action, but wheel of life, and the different categories that one has in life. For example, career, family, finances, physical and spiritual health. We should make goals in those areas, for a productive well rounded life. But today, we want to talk a little bit about the spiritual side. So most people here are religious. I know some people don’t like that expression and say: “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.” That’s OK.

But what are some spiritual resolutions that you might make?

– Prayer conditions
– Study conditions
– Love others, love your neighbors
– Give hugs
– Be grateful
– To love God and trust His love 100%

These resolutions are great ones.

Let’s look now at the slide. These are the resolutions I wrote at the top of my head:

Religious/ spiritual resolutions

– Relationship with God
– Relationship with TPs
– Relationship with others (some have mentioned it earlier)
– Spiritual development
– Mind – Body unity (everyone knows what that means)
– Share the faith

 Let’s look at the next slide:

Spiritual resolutions

– Prayer : (         )   — you can fill out the parentheses
– Study :  (         )   — you can study our Scriptures and the Scriptures of other religions
– Action : (         )   —  this is very important
– Forgiving others (enemies)
– Reaching out to others
– Spiritual Checklist  —  a list of things that you’re up to do, that you can’t do, should do, etc…
– Scripture Memorization — it could be very helpful in understanding your faith, in reaching out to others, in understanding their faith and sharing your faith.

These are very good resolutions that you can make. So resolutions are great! But there is one problem, what is the problem? Implementation and ? Execution and ? Continuation, great job!  Actually, your words are better than mine!

Today, I wanted to take a couple of minutes and look at the external things we can do, practical very helpful things I believe, to be more successful in 2010, and complete our resolutions. Yesterday, I was doing some researching on the internet, and I clicked on six simple steps; there could be more, there could be others, but let’s look at the next slide please:

6 steps (to maintain your resolutions)

1. Make sure the resolution is your own —  this is very important. Of course we talk about ownership. If we have ownership over something, we are more likely to accomplish it. But if somebody says: “You must do this!” How successful will you be? Probably not very successful. So it’s important that the resolution is of your doing, something that you WANT to do, and I think we know this, but often times, it’s not always the case.

2. Plan it out  — You need to develop a strategy to reach your goal. The experts say: “Break it down into smaller achievable goals”. Have you ever set a huge goal, and after a week, you just say: “Not possible, can’t do it, I think I’ll just give up!” So again, the experts say: “Small steps, manageable steps, achievable goals.” As you achieve each goal, you gain momentum, you gain confidence and you’re more likely to accomplish your ultimate goals.

3. Write it down — Did you know that most people, when they make goals, they don’t write it down? Did you know that? Most people don’t write their goals down. If you write it down, it makes it more real. It makes it substantial. Instead of just being a thought in your mind, it becomes more real. And you should post it somewhere in your house. Write it on a piece of paper, and put it in your bathroom, on your mirror, or on the bathroom door, in some place that you can see it every day and be reminded what your goals are. So all of you do that?

4. Make it specific — Set a specific target that is achievable, and set a time limit. It helps you to accomplish your goal step by step. Too often, we set a goal and there is no time period. The experts say: “This is a very helpful way to achieve your goals.” They give this example: Anyone who is in the situation of needing to lose some weight, set realistic goals for losing weight. An amount of weight every week, but make it reasonable and achievable, otherwise you’re too likely to give it up. For example, “In one month, I want to fit into these clothes”. You set these clothes aside and when you can get into those clothes, how do you feel? Good! It gives you more hope, more confidence. Actually, it’s very real, very practical and very doable.

5. Tell people about it –Tell someone about it. Actually, they say that if you don’t tell your goals to anyone and just keep it to yourself, your chances of success diminish greatly. Why? There is no accountability, right? So, who should you tell our goals to? Put it on your computer blog, send it out to your email list of one hundred people? Actually, you should just tell it to one person, someone whom you trust, someone who has your interest in heart, someone who is not afraid to hold you accountable, “I thought you were on a diet, why are you eating that chocolate cake? I thought you were going to the gym five days a week, you’ve only gone twice this week, and it’s Saturday!” But also someone who is not going to make you feel guilty, somebody who has your best interest in heart. So we need to share it with someone. It doesn’t have to be with everyone, just a few.

And finally, this next one is very important. Can anyone guess what the next one is? Number six, this is the last one. 
 

Wow, “Just do it.” That’s a great one, the Nike commercial. That’s a great commercial, by the way, a great model. Anyone else?
 
 “Start.” That’s an excellent one. That’s not it. That’s fantastic. Anyway, number 6 is “Forgive yourself.” Everybody, I have bad news. You are going to fail, at least once. You will. Probably you will have some failure, but the point is not to give up. How many of you have had that experience? You set a goal, and you make one failure and you give up. The key is not to give up. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve. That way you are much more likely to find success. So I hope that some of these suggestions and tips are helpful in making your resolutions more successful in 2010.
 
So what is the title of my sermon today? Who looked at the bulletin? The title of my sermon is A Blessed 2010. So how do we achieve that? How do we accomplish that anyway? And this morning I had the opportunity to listen to a part of the event going on up at the Palace today. Today is a special day in our church that we call the Day of the Victory of  Love. And this is a day when, on the other hand, it was a tragic event. The second son of our founder, (our founder of course is Sun Myung Moon and his wife is Hak Ja Han), was lost about 26 years ago, in 1984 I believe it was, in a car accident. And it is very interesting because at that time  he was driving in a car with 2 other passengers, and a big truck was coming the other way, and that semi-truck jack-knifed. Part of the truck went like this. So it was coming down the road, and Reverend Moon’s son had nowhere to go. So he had 3 choices. He is going straight, and this huge object, this truck is coming at him. He could either keep steering straight, he could steer to his right, which means the full impact would come on him, or he could steer to the left, and the full impact would go on the passengers.
 
Have you ever thought what you might do in that situation? Have you ever thought when you are driving in a car and you have a passenger, and if an accident is coming what you would do? Which way would you turn? Have you ever thought about that? I believe that we don’t actually know what we would do until the crisis comes. But I do believe that the more we think about it, the more that we prepare. If I have a passenger and I am in an accident, I will steer so that I take the full impact. I hope that is what I would do. This is what Reverend Moon’s son did. He was a young man, only 17 years of age, and he died. The two passengers in the car survived. He also had been very much thinking about his Father, and how to protect him, even acting as a body guard to them [True Parents]. Even thinking, “Could I take a bullet for my Father to protect him?” So already he was thinking along this line.
 
So we say in our movement that he truly achieved a great victory of love. And on the foundation of his parents, who we call True Parents …we speak of the founders of our church as True Parents, because we believe they have inherited God’s true love, true heart, true truth, and they are sharing it with us. So they are in this parental position of heart, and we say that his son inherited that heart…… So today we celebrate that victory of love. So today our senior pastor was at that event and offered the prayer. And in his prayer it was quite interesting. In his prayer he spoke about what he has been speaking about for the past few months, here on Saturday and Sunday. Sharing with us that we need to inherit the heart of the true love of God; not only that, but true love, true life, and true lineage. He also talked about us loving our True Parents in the New Year, and testify, testify to them. Testify to them as proud sons and daughters, that we might truly become filial children to our True Parents.
 
I’d like to read a very meaningful passage to me, to you; and this is taken from the book entitled THE VICTORY OF LOVE. This book contains messages from Heung Jin Nim, and also from Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Messiah. And Jesus had the following to say:
 
“Yes, my brothers and my sisters, the day has come to bring in my flocks. Bring them home to your True Parents. I have waited. I have waited many, many years for this day. And at last…I will lead them. I will lead them if you let me. If you open your hearts to me, I will call to my sheep. My sheep are blind, but they know my name. You must know the power of my name. You must not fear to express your love for me, because I love the True Parents. I love the True Parents greatly. Where our True Father stands, I am with him always. He is the one who can liberate my heart. I love the True Parents, I love them. So say the name of Jesus also. If you wish to call my sheep, you must let them know that you love me. Then they can trust you. They are afraid of you, because they are afraid that you do not like me. They are afraid you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But they know the power of my name. So if you say with pride and confidence, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” the Christians will follow you gladly. This is the key. This is the magic word to open their hearts. And you must say proudly the names of our True Parents.” Aju. (The Victory of Love, pgs 62-63).
 
As our senior pastor mentioned in one sermon, we need to really love Jesus. Not just pretending, but genuinely and deeply love Jesus. How can we reach out to our Christian brothers and sisters if we do not love what THEY love?
 
Someone once told me that if you want to inspire and move Korean people, you must love Korea. And this is true of any country, isn’t it? If you go to a country, how can you move the people if you don’t love their country? It is not possible. Often it is quite easy for Westerners or foreigners to come to Korea and criticize, “Well, that’s not how we do it in my country, and I don’t like this, and I don’t like that.” I’ve done that plenty of times myself. But actually, if we really want to move the Korean people, we have to love their country. And if we want to move Christians we have to love Jesus. Again, it must be real. And if we understood the heart of Jesus, if we understood what he has done, not just intellectually, not just conceptually, but genuinely, if we understood, how powerful we would be!
 
I remember when I was very young, and I was in elementary school, and I was visiting my Grandmother’s house, and on one Sunday morning she was watching a very famous Christian tele evangelist; and he was talking about Jesus’ childhood how fantastic it was, how glorious it must have been. And I thought, well okay, that must have been true. I didn’t know. But isn’t it interesting that in the Bible there is only ONE story that mentions Jesus’ childhood. Just one story and that was when Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem for 3 days.

Why is it that we don’t know more about the life of Jesus? Why is it that we know basically nothing about his childhood? There may be many explanations. Is it possible that Jesus didn’t talk about his childhood because it wasn’t very wonderful? It wasn’t so joyful? It wasn’t so fantastic?
 
I’d like to read another passage to you from the same book, and in this passage Heung Jin Nim, the second son of our founder Sun Myung Moon, is talking about Jesus; and in this passage this is what he has to say:
 
“Long ago Jesus couldn’t walk without aching. His feet hurt from the pain of not having the right nutrition and not eating right. His eyes were swollen and sore around the edges for the same reason. His family did not take good care of him. His brothers mocked him, mocked means to ridicule and they criticized him, because he was different; he was strange.  Jesus’ victory was unbelievable; unbelievable considering his circumstances. No one can ever understand the suffering depths of the heart of Jesus, and what he overcame to emerge as the Messiah. Don’t ever think for a moment that we don’t owe our lives to Jesus. Don’t ever think for a moment that we don’t substantially owe our lives to him. Even the True Parents feel this way. He first saved them, and they have bowed before him hundreds of times. Our members must learn to do the same.”
 
You must learn to do the same. You must learn to truly love Jesus.
 
In our movement we talk about God giving us 3 great blessings to fulfill. The first is to become perfect in heart, perfect in love, as Jesus encouraged us, and asked us to do. “You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” But how can you become perfect in love if you don’t RECEIVE love? Is that possible? It is so difficult, but Jesus accomplished that. Jesus accomplished the amazing, amazing victory of becoming a true son of true love.

And then in our movement we talk about how tragic it was that he had to die so young, when he wanted to do so much more. And we need to understand the sacrifice that he made. We need to know the real heart of Jesus; and how much he loves you, how much he loves us. And we do not have to be afraid. You don’t have to think or worry that if I love Jesus that I am not loving our True Parents. That is not true. If you love Jesus, you love True Parents.
 
Brothers and sisters, we really have to develop and grow in our understanding, in our love of course for God, for our True Parents and also for Jesus. We are so blessed to know what we know, to understand. In our movement we talk about how we move the heart of God. We can move the heart of God. We can make God cry, we can make God laugh. Some people would say that is heretical. Incredible! You have power over God, just as any child has power over their parents. And we also have the power to move the heart of Jesus; to move the heart of our parents.
 
How can we make 2010 be a blessed year? How can we be victorious in this New Year? What gift can we bring to our parents? What gift can we bring to our Heavenly Parents, our Heavenly Father and our Heavenly Mother? So that they will be most happy and joyful? What is it that we can bring? Money? Money is very nice, very helpful, very necessary in the world today. Absolutely. But is that the greatest gift you can bring? Yourself? That’s great, but what is even greater? To bring God’s sons and daughters who do not know Him. To bring God’s sons and daughters who don’t yet know the totality of His love and His grace. That, I think, is the best gift that we can give. That is the greatest way we can make 2010 truly a blessed year.
 
Make our resolutions, be sincere, and help our senior pastor here bring victory for God, for our True Parents, for Jesus, and for our elder brother Heung Jin Nim.  And on that I’d like to ask you to please join me in a closing prayer.
 
Closing Prayer:
 
Our Heavenly Father,
 
We want to thank You so deeply for the amazing, amazing grace and love that You give to us. Father, if we could open our minds and open our hearts, and open our spiritual eyes, we would be overwhelmed by how much You love us, by how much You give to us, by how much You are showering Your grace and truth upon us; and how much You are even praying for us that we can fulfill our responsibilities. That we can become the true sons and daughters that You made and hope for us to be. But You also know how difficult it is to accomplish in our world today.
 
Heavenly Father, we want to thank You so deeply. We have started a new year, a new decade. This past decade just flew by. This past year feels as if it just began a few days ago; and here we are already in a new decade, in a new year.
Heavenly Father, we want to stand before You most humble, and most sincere, and most grateful. We do not want to feel guilty. We do not want to be burdened by guilt and You do not want us to be burdened by guilt. You want us to repent and change directions and start anew. You want us to forget the past and look forward to the future with hope and encouragement. You want us to make our resolutions and fulfill them, and to truly become the sons and daughters that can bring You hope and joy, who can help build Your kingdom on this earth. How blessed we are to live at this time in human history. Please forgive us that we don’t really understand it.
 
How we envy the disciples of Jesus who were with him, and yet how much more people will envy us and the time that we are living in! How people will look back hundreds and thousands of years from now, and wish that they had been us!
 
Help us to know who we are. Help us to know that we truly are Your sons and daughters, and that You are our Parent, and that You love us more than we could ever imagine; and that You are always there urging us, supporting us, helping us; shedding tears of sorrow when we have to struggle.
 
Heavenly Father, we want to become like our True Parents, like Jesus who loved You, we want to be able to inherit Your heart, not out of duty, not out of obligation, but out of ownership. We want to be with You. We want to be like You. Again, we thank You so deeply for the amazing grace that You give to us. Please help us to receive that, and to give it out to others this year. Help us to have the courage and strength and faith and confidence to share with others. But help us also to really love this country of Korea. Help us to love whatever country we are living in, to see it from Your eyes, to love it from Your heart, and to love Your sons and daughters who live in that country. And help us to truly become Your ambassadors of love, Your sons and daughters, so that when people see us they will think, “There goes the son or daughter of God. There goes someone who walks with God.” Help us to become those people.
 
Father, we thank You again for Your blessings, and we ask that You be with each person here, empowering them, guiding them, protecting them, showering them with Your grace, love and guidance in this year of 2010; so that at the end of this year, we will look back with great pride and great joy in the offering that we could give to You. And we thank You, and I most humbly wish to offer this, together with my brothers and sisters from around the world; we pray. Aju.

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