The Words of the Byrne Family

21st Birthday Celebrations at UTS

Rev. Shawn Byrne
Barrytown, NY
July 4, 1999

The 21st birthdays of Tierson Boutte, D. B., Bow Jones, Sunnie Kirkley, Christopher Seidel and L. Strait were celebrated at the Unification Theological Seminary on Sunday, July 4, 1999. The following sermon was delivered on that occasion.

Today, on Americaís Independence Day, we have come together to celebrate your 21st birthdays. For America it was one thing to free itself from another nationís rule. It was another things to determine its own identity and its direction for the future. For you also it is one thing to reach the traditional "coming-of-age" and freedom from the rule of your parents. It is another thing to clarify who you are and to determine your direction in life. Let me offer some input on this.

It is no longer your parentsí wills or concepts which determine you. You are now responsible to find yourself and determine your direction in life. How do you do that? Go to God, your Eternal Parent, the One who created you. God made you as an individual who expresses the nature and heart of God in original ways, in ways never expressed by anyone before. Through your physical parents God created you, a masterpiece. He knows you through and through. As King David sang in Psalm 139, "You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my motherís womb." Seek and find God and you will find your true self. Find your true self and you will find God who made you.

Seek God through your deepest feelings and thoughts. Not any feelings or thoughts, but those you have when you reach the place of deepest silence within yourself, the peaceful clearing in the heart of the forest, so to speak. To achieve that, you will need to get past the barking dogs of noise and distraction which characterize our culture. You may feel fear of the quiet place where alone you face yourself and your God. But if you have the courage to persevere, you will find God and self in the silent heart of the forest of your life.

Look for God and self in your deepest feelings, in your deepest thoughts. And also in the experiences of your life. Read those experiences, especially the recurring patterns. These are the messages that God writes on the pages of your life. They reveal to you who you are and what you need to become.

And because it is a challenge to reach such levels of awareness, listen to and reflect on Godís word. It will serve as a light for your eyes and a lamp to guide your feet towards God and your true self. It will help you distinguish the true from the false.

By such deep inward searching and communion, seek to become one with God as Jesus was one with his Father and as True Parents are. Move towards becoming the true son or daughter of God that, in essence, you already are.

On this foundation of your true self who is one with God, you can proceed to share with others the gift you are. Your true self is Godís gift to the world. You are like a young tree that is to grow up and spread out its branches to the four winds to provide shelter and refreshment to others. You are to be a tree of life which expresses love and service to others, gradually becoming universal.

To help you become people of love and service, God has arranged for you to be educated in a school of loveónamely, the family. In this school you are led through various "courses" of love.

You receive unconditional love from your parents. It energizes and empowers as the sun does the earth. You have learned to respond with a childís love to your parents, taking your first steps in living for others and acting to bring them joy. You also took the course of sibling love, learning to love and care for brothers and sisters, to share with them, advancing in unselfishness. As you grew older, sibling love expanded to include others as friends. The more open-hearted you are towards various kinds of boys and girls, the more successful you are in your course of sibling love. As you learn to love others, you are gradually prepared for the day when you can enter the course of conjugal love with your own spouse, a course in which two people become in flesh and heart and spirit.

Through these courses of family love you are prepared to become citizens of the Kingdom, people capable of loving and serving all people. The young tree is guided to become the tree of life reaching out branches of shelter and service to all.

You can see then that the family is much more than the biological, economic, cultural and social unit which the human sciences recognize. It is primarily a divine institution in which Godís love and creativity are experienced most deeply and personally. What could be more creative than to bring new human beings into the world and to raise them up as Godís sons and daughters? God wanted each human being to experience His parental woman become one as husband and wife who together beget, bear, love, care for and raise up their child? The family is the centerpiece of all Godís masterpieces, where Godís image is most clearly expressed. In it also Godís heart is most deeply and personally experienced. Family is the mold in which the sons and daughters of God are formed, in which the heart and character of God are inherited.

Establishing a family through marriage is a holy enterprise. It is entering the sacred space where God especially dwells. Marriage is not intended primarily to meet our personal needs. Rather, it is the workshop where we labor with God to form new images of Him. In doing this, though, our deepest needs are also met.

Be careful, then, to avoid what undermines the family courses of love: for example, romantic attachments, promiscuity, pornography, the waste of time and energy in useless pastimes. These are toxic for human hearts. Guard the entrance to the school. On the other hand, pursue enthusiastically the four courses of love which the family provides.

As you grow up to be trees of life, seek the blessing of True Parents and of your physical parents on your match and marriage. Itís wise because of your parentsí experience, wisdom and God-given responsibility for you. For you parents, to guide you in finding your eternal mate and to bless your union is one of their greatest expressions of love for you.

Through learning love and creativity in the family, you are positioned to extend them to all people and things. This is the function of the career you choose. It should express the best of you and be a service to people and also to the creation. It does not matter so much what you do. It matters a lot how you do it. If you become a wood-carver, be a good one. If a social worker, lawyer, cook, artist, engineer or teacher, be good at what you do, for it expresses who you are and is your way to serve and love people and the environment.

Today we celebrate with you your 21st birthdays. You have "come of age." You are now fully adult, responsible before God and man and to yourself. You are trees of life. May you bear abundant good fruit. America, when it came of age, decided to be "one nation under God." True Father has stated that its purpose is greater than itself; America is to spearhead "one world under God." For each of you, too, your God-given purpose is greater than yourself. It is to be a tree of life, extending the love and creativity of God to the farthest reaches of the earth.

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