And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those that were being saved.
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for coming. We've had a very busy couple of months. When I first came before you in October 1999, at an initial service, I spoke at that time that for many years we've been a campaign organization, or a heavenly army. Just last week I was with True Parents at Jefferson House and he reiterated to those there that we are indeed soldiers and he's the general. So those days are not past. However, I also mentioned when I first came here that we need to also be a true community and family community, and we need to find a way to do those at the same time.
We tend to try and go between extremes. Sometimes we just focus on the campaign and drop being a community and a family. Sometimes we say we've had enough campaigns and we just try to focus on being a community and we say someone else can do the campaigns. I believe we can do both. I believe we have the strength and the ability and the heart to do that.
What we're going to talk about this morning is community-building, building our shimjung community of faith. We all long for closeness, the kind of closeness that was written about in Acts 2, that we just heard. It's what the Christians call koinonia. It's a Greek word that means the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Our Completed Testament term would be shimjung. Of course it's a much deeper and heartistic term than koinonia.
We all want that deep sense of heart amongst each other, don't we? I'm sure that's why we joined this church, or family, as many of us knew it in the early days. But we have many challenges to actually accomplishing it. When we were younger most of us were in centers or teams of some kind, and it was easier to build that and make it happen. But now we're in our families, in our homes, and that makes it more difficult. Some of us are successful at it in our homes. The challenge is, how can we make it between our families, between our homes, build that community of faith, heartistic shimjung atmosphere.
Some people stay pretty much within themselves as an individual because of difficulties in their lives. It's hard for them to come out of themselves. Many find the closeness that we all long for with their spouse. They build it there but it doesn't go much farther than that. Many, happily, in our community here find that shimjung closeness in their family unit. Unfortunately, rarely do we really venture much further than that. Thankfully, in our community of blessed families we have found a way through what the True Parents have taught us to begin the process of becoming true families and establish that true family heart. We desire the larger closeness. We long for it. We need it. In fact, we were designed for it by God.
The Principle shows us that every being exists in give and take, and I love the part in the Principle that describes the interdependence of all beings in the universe. It starts by saying that there is the smallest unit, proton and electron, and they have a relationship and they come into a subject-object relationship with a larger unit of the same dimension, which then becomes atoms together. They come into give and take and they make molecules, and molecules come into subject-object relationship and make substances and matter, and various types of matter become plus and minus, or male and female, and they make various compounds or plants and animals. And human beings come into subject-object relationships and make families. And families make communities, and communities make nations, and nations make the world as we know it. And even from there you have the sun and the planets and the give and take with the sun, and on out to the entire solar system being a unit having give and take with others in the galaxy, and the galaxies being interconnected. It's this vast unit, oneness.
So God designed the universe that way. Because of the fall we aren't able to make that happen yet in the deepest level that God intended, and that's the shimjung true relationships between people. Also the three blessings make it very clear that we were created by God to establish true communities. So we're designed for this shimjung community, and we are sad and lonely and unhappy when we don't have it. As a family of the True Parents, we should have it, wouldn't you agree? That's why we're here.
When I first met this group, this family, this church, I had an experience probably many have. At the time I was far from being a religious person, but I was a person who wanted true relationships. I didn't even know that's what they were called. Sort of dragged against my will by my wife, I went to a weekend workshop near Crater Lake, Oregon, about as beautiful a place as you could ever want to find. And I really was negative, and I was afraid that somehow my wife was being sucked away by some religious group, and I was really worried and insecure and all those things. But when I came into this cabin, there were a couple of dozen young people there. I was immediately struck by the atmosphere, and the people were so pure and they were so friendly and it was so real and genuine.
Even though I was resisting and fighting, my heart kept telling me, this is the kind of place you want to be. These are the people that you've been wanting to meet. This is the community atmosphere that you've been looking for. Rev. Lee likes to tell us, welcome home. That's what I felt that day so many years ago. I felt that I had come home. I didn't think of it quite that way at the time. And I know probably almost everyone in this room, from brothers and sisters who are just beginning to join us here, weeks or months ago, to those of us who've been here for 15, 20 and 30 years. When we first encountered the true family shimjung atmosphere that the True Parents had created, we felt like we were coming home.
And now the Family Federation has been created to be a worldwide federation of families that work together to create world peace and to establish that atmosphere on a worldwide level. Ultimately our task is to create a shimjung culture. What is that shimjung culture? It's based on the idea of the culture of a true family, and that culture is based on the ordered relationships of father, mother, brothers and sisters, all harmonized based on mutually beneficial relationships, interdependence, but it is ordered, and that's the thing I think a lot of us in the West tend to minimize or want to ignore.
The key factor in all of those relationships is living for the sake of others, and that has become True Parents' slogan. That was the title of True Parents' 80th birthday celebration banquet. When members of a family live for the sake of other members in the family, then it is the kingdom on a family level. Unfortunately most of us experience the other part, with our spouse and our children, or ourselves. When we are living for the sake of ourself in that family unit we experience a little bit of what hell is like.
I had a beautiful experience just before moving here, with my youngest son Jacob. He was struggling with moving out here. He wouldn't see his older brothers for a while because they're attending college and finishing high school and it's not time for them to move. But he was going to move with us, so he was struggling and feeling badly. And his older brother, Sun-il, who's in college presently at the University of Oregon, one day said to him, Jacob, you are so lucky. You get to go to Redskins games now. I can't wait until I can come and take you to one. Boy, Jacob was in heaven. All of a sudden he was saying, "Dad, when are we moving? When are we going, Mom?", because that ordered relationship kicked in.
Actually we had other challenges with our kids regarding coming here, but for that moment I could glimpse how that ordered true love relationship works, what God meant. I see it all the time when I'm with True Family. When I lived in New York, many times I had a special blessing to be able to be at East Garden when True Parents would come home from being overseas, out of this country. It was such a beautiful thing. We would all line the driveway as they came in and they would come inside and sit in chairs and pray, and then the True Family would come and greet them one by one, from the eldest to the youngest, to the grandchildren, to the babies that would be brought up. The elder ones would kiss their father and mother and bow before them and the young babies would come and be kissed. It was such a beautiful thing to be there. Many times I shed tears just observing. The atmosphere is so powerful and rich. One cannot deny that it is that true family atmosphere that we all long for.
The interesting thing was that after that brief greeting, then the True Parents would spend the rest of the time with us, their adopted children. Sometimes hours and hours and hours. Recently some people had the blessing of being at Jefferson House when True Parents came at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and they were up with us almost until midnight. The True Children were there and I know True Parents were tired, but they long to be with us and spend time with us.
Father longed for us so much, I realized at one point we'd been with him for three or four hours and he said, "Okay, short break for the bathroom." And he jumped up and went to the bathroom. We'd been sitting on the floor and I'm one of those big guys with long legs that Father said it's hard to sit on the floor. I was happy to hear him recognize it recently. I jumped up to stretch my legs and I just turned around and I barely had a chance to stand up and turn around and Father was back. I thought, "Gee, that's really quick." I know guys are usually quicker going to the bathroom, but this was really quick.
My reflection was that even there Father was pushing himself to take that human task, do it as quickly as possible, and come back and be with us. Because it really was extremely quickly that he accomplished that task. And he came right back in and sat down and kept going with us some more. Then it was time for dinner. Most of us were downstairs and shared dinner. We'd only been about half an hour and somebody came running downstairs, and said, Father's asking where is everybody. So we ran upstairs and he met with us again for another few hours.
I realized that he'd actually been longing for all of us during dinner. Someone said he left the dinner table and gone down the hallway to the bathroom, and he asked, where are all the members. He'd been longing for us, is what I felt, feeling that he needed to be with us and lift us up. The atmosphere by the end of the evening was so rich and deep, just being there with True Parents.
We in one way or another had that experience. Most of us in this room were at the birthday banquet on January 22nd. In those times, even there in public, don't you feel that rich atmosphere coming when True Parents are there? I do. At the end of the Capitol Hill event the atmosphere was so powerful. It was a challenging speech that True Father gave, and he pounded it out in Korean. So it was tough, it was challenging, but still the atmosphere was so deep and rich, just by the atmosphere that True Parents bring.
However, for many of us it's become idealistic to think that we can actually have this atmosphere created all the time. So we just go on living our lives, and sometimes we're able to be somewhere where the atmosphere is created by True Parents being there, or we have a family evening like we did last night in Maryland. And we're reminded that it's attainable, but it's not happening enough.
One reason, I believe, is that we've reached a comfort zone. Rev. Levi Daugherty gave a very challenging sermon here recently, "How can we settle when we've not yet arrived?" One of the points he makes in there is that many of us are settling down to live a life as if we've come out of the wilderness and Canaan is here. But we've not yet arrived. If we're willing to leave our comfort zone just a little bit, great things can happen. It's not necessary all of a sudden to make some radical moves. Many of us feel, I can't do that, I'm 50 years old. I can't just change all of a sudden. Well, it's not necessary to change it all of a sudden.
I wanted to share with you eight keys to building our shimjung community. I'd like you to consider these points, and certainly discuss them with us. First, look forward, not back. Many people like to tell me about the history of this town and how this and that happened, that actually building a community of faith is not actually going to be do-able because of this and that. My response is, okay, that all happened, but now is a new day and a new time. We have a beautiful new motto that our True Parents have given us. I think many of us are feeling that the spiritual atmosphere, the activity of spirit world is indeed different, more powerful than it has been. So number one is, look forward, not back.
Number two, recognize that we need each other. We cannot go this way alone, but as brothers and sisters, as couples, as families, as children, and between our children. I'd really like to ask your consideration of this concept. We need one another. If you've ever read "The seven habits of highly effective people," Steven Covey has a simple paradigm there. There are three basic levels of relationships. The first, in our way of thinking the formation stage, is dependence, like little children. The second level is what we would call the growth stage, independence. Now most Americans consider independence as the most important. But even Dr. Covey says, no, that's like a teenage level of development. The most mature level of relationships is interdependence. We need one another. Rev. Lee recently gave a sermon on the healthy church and talked a great deal about interdependence. We need to recognize that we need one another and to reach out to one another.
My wife and I have realized that one of the most important aspects is that our children need each other, and we need to leave our comfort zone enough to begin connecting our children to one another, not just at Sunday School, but take the time to drive across town to have our children be with each other. It's such an integral part of building this shimjung atmosphere.
Number three, realize that we are all leaders. We're all tribal messiahs. Father bestowed that upon us years ago. That means each and every one of us is a leader. Father has talked about the member-centered church. What that really means is that every single one of us needs to take leadership in the providence and in the world, in our families, in this community here.
Also, if it is to be, it is up to me. We get lots of suggestions. Rev. Lee and I love suggestions. We solicit them. We want to hear as many as you can give. I'm going to bring up a couple of things, but I don't want that to stifle the creativity and ideas coming through. But I'm sure you've been in meetings where someone says, why don't we do such and such. Or, wouldn't be great if the church did such and such. Might be, but the fact of the matter is, we are the church. That's what this community of faith is. The community church movement, which you may have heard of, they have giant churches with 10,000 people, but their concept is that the church is not the building but the community of faith. They talk about doing church. Church is like a verb to them. They get it from Acts 2 that we read this morning.
Last week Lena Daugherty gave a sermon about "my church." She talked about how second generation were born into this, so they really need to make it theirs and have it become my church. She asked second generation to stand up with her, to pledge "I will make it my church." But she didn't specify second generation so all of the adults stood up also. This is our community and it is going to be what we make it. That's the feeling that I hope we begin to find with each other.
Number four, recognize that part of building this atmosphere will mean a seeming sacrifice of time and resources. Why do I say "seeming" sacrifice? The trick in your mind is when the little thoughts come -- I'm going to give the money but we don't really have it, or, I'm going to fast but I'm going to get a headache, or, I'll go for a couple of hours but I really have so much else to do -- but actually, don't you find when you challenge that kind of a thought and make that sacrifice that you really meet God? You get vitality elements, you're lifted up? I do. The return, to myself and my family and all of us, is many-fold. It's not really a sacrifice. It's an investment. Investment advisers say that if you invest more, you'll make more. And in advertising and marketing, which I've spent time in, they're always trying to convince business people that advertising is not a business expense, it's an investment because when you advertise you get more business. The seeming sacrifice of time and resources is really an investment to better the entire community atmosphere for all of us and for our own families.
Number five, recognize that true love is built and created. It doesn't just happen. We need to put conscious effort into creating that atmosphere. When I'm with True Parents, and recently last week especially I was reminded of it, True Parents are completely selfless. They were there entirely, completely for us, for God, for those congressmen and senators. There wasn't any self there. Even when Father was receiving gifts and accolades from leaders in the Capitol Hill event and being applauded, it's very easy to see his heart is not that he is looking for recognition or fame, but he's looking for recognition of the suffering of God, and the saints of history. And the suffering he and True Family have undergone not for themselves but for the sake of God.
Also, let's pray for this community of faith to come. Those of you that keep a prayer list, I'd like to ask you to add this to your prayer list. Pray for our Washington, D.C. area shimjung community of faith. I do believe that if many of us are praying about that every day that it will help us.
Number six, start to build genuine relationships, horizontal friendships, and vertical relationships. I've found that when my horizontal friendships are rooted in the vertical, ordered relationships, based on the family model that True Parents have established of the spiritual relationships of our religious community of faith, that that's where the power comes.
Number seven, find one specific, concrete way that you can serve the community. Your gift. Everyone participates. This is where our sense of meaning comes from. Every single person here has something to give. One of the big community churches with 10,000 members once a year passes out a list of 180 possible ways to serve. Everything from fixing the electrical system to repairing members' cars during service, to facilities management, to giving sermons, doing counseling are all considered a personal ministry that those people have. Everyone participates that way, and it builds an incredible atmosphere because everyone has a part.
When they pass out that list, the nice thing is that number 181 is a blank line. If you can't find something in that list of 180, you can write in one that you can think of that you could offer to help the community. We are going to be trying to help people tune into this. There are workshops where we do worksheets and find out the ways that we can serve based on bringing things outside ourselves.
Number eight, start or join a small group. You've heard me and Rev. Lee talking a lot about small groups. It's simply a small baby step. It's a way of building a community of 8 to 12 people. They get together once a week or once a month, not just to gather to study, but to really make the shimjung community atmosphere with that group. There are many types of groups -- some are for study, some for fellowship, couples that gather, mens' groups, womens' groups, singles groups, youth groups, groups of people that do tasks like ushers and musicians. The main point is that they have clear purposes and that they have a commitment to be together and work together and support one another. This is where we can practice true love in living for others in an environment that we can grab onto. But when that's all linked together, when many groups are linked together through a common vision and purpose then that's how a big community like ours, that's over 1,000 people when you include our children, can be linked together.
Some people say, you can't do all these things. I know you mean well, but the past shows there are too many barriers to accomplishing this. Or they say, the organization is not going to support it. Well, I'm part of the organization now, so I'm telling you if you find that it doesn't, let me know. I'll do something about it. Other people say, it's been tried before and it never kept going. That may be true. I always remember a well-known author, Ken Kesey, who made a good point. He said people are always trying to move toward the light, but many are looking at the darkness as they try to go to the light. He said, why don't they just turn around and look straight at the light and walk forward? That's what I believe we need to do now. It's harder with our families. It just means that we have to give a little bit more.
Other people say, too many of us are burned out. It's been a long, hard road, I'm just too tired. My response is, well, it only takes a spark to get a fire going. It only takes a few good men and women, to borrow a term from the Marines. So if everyone is not willing to jump in and do something with these community-building concepts here, then a few of us can and something will start to glow and eventually burn.
I believe we can get to that kind of fire power that the early Christians had, as in Acts 2:47, the Lord added to their numbers daily, those who were being saved. That witnessing will come naturally. We don't have to make a lot of conscious effort. By putting a lot of effort into building our healthy shimjung community, naturally we will be connecting those around us, our relatives, neighbors and friends.
I want to close by reading this statement of vision and purpose together.
Vision: We are a community of faith working together to expand true love by living and teaching the ideal of True Parents.
Purpose: To help people develop their relationship with God and love for others, create blessed families, and develop their gifts and ministries to serve in our communities and in the world.
Under purpose you'll find that we have educating people, reaching out to people, helping them attain the blessing, helping ourselves find ways to serve our community here, and helping each other develop ourselves to be good and effective tribal messiahs in the world. Everything that we really think about doing is in there.
I thank you for being with us this morning. I hope we can work together to build on this vision throughout this year. I'd like to close in prayer.