The Words of the Brazil Family

Our Offering

Michael Brazil
October 31, 2009
Headquarters Church, Seoul, Korea

Opening Prayer:

Let us pray. Our most beloved Heavenly Father and True Parents, we would like to thank You for allowing us to come together. It is a special day, with our brothers and sisters from around the world, and we thank You. Father, we may have different backgrounds. We may have different situations or challenges, but we know that there is only one thing that makes us come together and that is love -- love for our True Parents.

Father, we want to thank You for allowing us to be a part of this incredible history. We want to thank You that we are part of, and believing in, this very important moment in history. That we are living with our True Parents, receiving direct inspiration from the True Children, especially from our Hyung Jin Nim and Yeon Ah Nim. To share words with them, and to smile and laugh with them -- what an amazing grace, Father.

Sometimes we didn’t realize how blessed we are. Even though we have shortcomings and many limitations, Father, You are always there to embrace us with Your love, with Your care, giving us hope in the times of our difficulties. We are very grateful, Father. Today we are about to receive another inspiration from our speaker, and we hope that through him we can understand more of God’s heart and True Parents’ heart, and connect ourselves in our hearts with them.

Father in Heaven, we would like to ask Your presence to dwell with us, and I pray as well that we can support, love and care for each other as a community, as a family; that as we go out, we can meet people with whom we can share God’s words and True Parents’ words; and that we will do it with great confidence and pride, showing them what wonderful people we are, and that we are God and True Parents’ children. We thank You, with our hearts in gratitude. In our names as Blessed Central Families we pray, Aju.

Welcoming Remarks:
Mrs. Genn Toffey

Welcome brothers and sisters. We are so glad you are here. Even though it is raining, it keeps us all really awake and really refreshed, and we are really happy that you braved the wonderful wet weather. Thank you for coming.

Rev. Kyle Toffey

Brothers and Sisters from around the world, welcome. We are so grateful to see you come. Actually, it’s a really wonderful thing to stand up here and to look at you.

Mrs. Genn Toffey

I want to read from the Cheon Seong Gyeong, on page 326:

God created the world with a purpose to realize His desire of absolute love through the oneness of Himself and human beings. He created human beings as His highest and very best object partners of love.

What do human beings live for? If you answer they live for love, that is a wonderful answer. Life is originally created with the intention at the beginning of creation for us to be born as the fruit of true love, to live with love, and in the end to return to the bosom of our God of eternal love.

So you know, that means God created you, specifically YOU, to be His highest and very best object partners of love. That means we have to love each other as if we are God. We have to treat each other as if the person you are talking to is actually God.

When I joined the church in the seventies we had small groups and we met every morning and every night. We all made goals, and one of the goals that people would typically make for that day was to treat every single person as though they were talking to God, as though that person was actually God.

At that time, people would just want to move in, because they could see through the relationship of the members that we truly loved each other. Our leaders were so sincere, so loving, and so sacrificial; and the members were trying so hard to become patient, and to become loving, and to treat each person not just with respect, not just to bow, not just to appreciate the age or the experience of that person, but to truly love them, like heart to heart love. People just wanted to move in. We had the problem of too many people. We called that “Happy Trouble.” It is a good problem.

Now, at our witnessing program on Thursday nights at 7:30, we have a wonderful gentleman who comes every single Thursday. Why? He found one little witnessing paper with a map on it for our church, on a chair in Itaewon, and he thought, “Oh, I should check this out.” But why does he come every single week? It’s because he feels appreciated. He feels supported in his goals. He says he actually only understands five percent of what we say, because he is Korean, and he doesn’t really understand English, but he understands heart. Heart is universal. It doesn’t matter what language we speak, it what every person wants. It is the core.

When we used to ask what Father was talking about, someone would say “true love.” He would speak seven hours about true love. That is really Father’s heart, and that is the most important thing in our church -- true love. So if we have that kind of church, and we have that kind of spirit in all our activities, we don’t have to worry about people coming. They will come automatically. They will just want to move in. They will just want to come to all the programs. That is the beginning of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. That is the beginning of true love for all of us.

Let us all rise, and let us begin by manifesting our Principle position of give and take relationship, give and receive four position foundation; I inherit the true love of God, Aju. Now let us say Family Pledge number one.

Meditation Practice:

As we now stand, let us first join our mind and body unity through meditation. Let’s reach down to the earth, and feel the energy of the universe that is supporting us, and let us reach down and pull [that energy] into us as we breathe in; reach up and exhale. And from Heaven, let us bring down the love and the joy and the blessings. As we breathe in, and exhale back to the universe. And one more time, let us breathe in deeply. Pull in the blessings, breathe in the joy, and exhale. Again, let’s touch the face of God, and bring God into our very being by breathing in, then exhaling.

Please be seated. As you sit, please sit towards the forward part of your chair, with your back straight, as we enter our time of meditation. Let’s close our eyes, and we will visualize ourselves not here in this sanctuary, but on a quiet country road, in the middle of autumn. As we walk slowly down this road, the first thing we notice is that we can hear the leaves swishing underneath our feet. As we step we can hear them crunch, and we look down at the leaves on the road ahead, and there are so many different colors of the leaves. We notice that each leaf is a little different. There are different colors ranging from bright yellow to a deep brown, with everything in between from reds and oranges and golds. It’s like a pathway before us as we stroll along. We look up at the trees above us that form a canopy on this beautiful road. The leaves that are still hanging on the trees are so beautiful, and the blue sky behind it is the perfect setting for these trees. The light flashes on our eyes as we walk through, filtered down through the leaves of gold, yellow, red and green. We look at the leaves and realize in that moment, that God created this scene for you, for me. We look at the leaves and realize that this is an expression of God’s love for me. And in that beauty we close our eyes, and we take a deep breath and say to ourselves, “I am alive”, and as we exhale we say, “Thank You.” Again, we take a deep breath, smell the autumn air and say, “I am alive,” and as we exhale we say, “Thank You.” One final breath, “I am alive,” as we exhale, “Thank You.”

Now is the time when we come together in prayer. As Hyung-jin nim is always asking us, we need to pray for those who have gone before us and are supporting us in our day to day life. There are so many spirits in the spirit world who have done so much in the past so that we could be here today. So we want to thank them in our prayers. We also want to pray that they can be blessed as we have been blessed, for their efforts in trying to help us in our mission and in our daily life. Those evil spirits that are around us, let’s pray for them. Pray that they can be liberated, as we have been liberated. Listen to the music, and pray along with us in unison.

The next part of the service is probably my most favorite, and that is where I ask you all to stand up, and I want you to physically manifest that feeling of love and joy that God has for each and everyone of us, by turning around to those around you and giving them your best greetings. And if you came with your husband or wife, give them a big hug, and tell them you love them three times.

Interesting Story:

Brothers and Sisters, let’s give it up for Two Rivers’ Choir, and please be seated; and welcome everyone. Very nice to see you. To start in the tradition of our senior pastor, we like to start with something, as he says, a little bit interesting. Today I have a story about getting into Heaven. A man finds himself standing in front of the pearly gates; and Saint Peter explains that it’s not easy to get into Heaven. There are some criteria that must be met, for not anyone is allowed. So Saint Peter asked him, “Were you a churchgoer, or religious?” The man says, “no”. Saint Peter told him “That’s bad.” Was he giving money to the poor, or to charities? “no.” Saint Peter told him that, too, was bad.

Did he do any good deeds, such as helping his neighbor? Anything? The man said, “no.” Saint Peter was becoming concerned, and said, “look, everyone does something nice sometimes; work with me, I’m trying to help you. Now think.” The man thinks for a minute, and says, “Well, I did help this old lady once I came out of a store and saw that a dozen Hell’s Angels (these are big, bad men with motorcycles) had taken her purse, and they were pushing her around. I threw my bags down, and I got her purse, and then I told the biggest biker that he was cowardly, and I spat in his face.” “Wow!” says Saint Peter; “that’s impressive. When did this happen?” “Oh, about 15 minutes ago,” replied the man.” (laughter)

Main Sermon by Rev. Michael Brazil:

I’d like to start with a picture, if I may. What is this? It’s a mat. What kind of mat? It could be an exercise mat. What else? It could be a sleeping mat or perhaps a mat that you put your sleeping bag on. Anything else? A bowing mat, a kyung-bae mat. That’s very possible. Well, I had a very interesting experience with one of these mats.

About six weeks ago, I had a very interesting dream. Recently, in the past few months, the ministers here at headquarters church have been doing early morning -- very early morning -- meditation. Usually sometime during the day I would take a nap. I had to take a nap! Sometimes I took a nap in my chair, but I definitely preferred to take a nap on this mat. It’s very simple, very humble, about so thick.

In this dream I had six weeks ago, I woke up and looked over to my right and saw True Father. Now, if you are here for the first time, if you’ve never visited our church before, in our church and in our movement we call the Founders “Parents”, and because we believe that they have exhibited -- and do exhibit -- God’s true love and true heart, we call them “True Parents”, True Father and True Mother, Rev. and Mrs. Moon.

So, in this dream, I looked over and saw True Father, Rev Moon, asleep in a very unusual position. I am not even sure this is possible. He had been sitting on a chair and he somehow slid forward. His bottom was still on the chair and his forehead was on the floor. Now, try to picture that. I tried to find a picture of this but was unable to. Once again, his forehead was on the floor and his bottom was still on the chair. I think that must be a very painful position. Imagine all of that weight was on his forehead.

Looking at this, first I was surprised and thought, “Wow! True Father must truly be exhausted to be asleep in that position!” And then, I began to struggle. Why did I struggle? Because I thought, “Well, I have this simple mat. Maybe I should offer this mat to True Father. But no! I can’t give this simple mat. I should give a really nice bed, or at least a thick mattress for True Father to sleep on. But this humble mat? What will he think?” So, believe it or not, I struggled. It should be a no-brainer, right? It should be easy. What do I do? Shall I wake him up, offer him the mat? I struggled.

Finally I decided, “Well, even this humble mat is much better than the position he is in now. OK, I’m going to wake True Father and I’m going to offer him this mat.” And as I reached out to touch him, to nudge him and wake him up, the dream changed and I moved to the next scene.

In this scene, True Father and I were sitting across from each other. He was totally awake, and he seemed quite inspired. He started asking me about myself, “Oh, how are you doing?” He started asking me about my wife. He seemed to know her, so I was inspired. I said, “Oh, she’s doing well.” Then the next scene appeared and True Father was gone, and then I woke up.

Well, when I woke up, naturally I was very inspired about having such a dream, but also I began to think, “OK, am I supposed to learn something here? What’s the meaning?” Of course there are many ways to interpret dreams, but probably the person who had the dream is best suited to interpret it. Perhaps they know intuitively in their heart the message they are supposed to receive.

I thought about this for a couple of days and came to two conclusions. The first one, very obvious: Rev Moon is exhausted. Somehow I could understand because I had recently been feeling pretty exhausted myself, but he, every day, is so exhausted. But it was the second point that meant so much to me: Regardless of how small your offering is, if it’s given with heart it is truly appreciated. What I offered to Rev Moon in that dream was so humble and so simple, a simple mat, but I felt he was so happy and joyful about receiving it. And this, I believe, is what God feels about us. Regardless of how small your offering might be, how small your giving might be, God is so inspired by that if it’s done with the right heart. I think we tend to forget that. So, even the smallest offering is valuable, it’s appreciated, it’s needed. And, if you think about it, if you combine many small offerings together, it becomes what? A large offering!

I’d like to take a few minutes and look at some world Scriptures. Let’s read together.

Our first passage comes from Hinduism. This comes from the Upanishads:

“Whatever is given should be given with faith, not without faith -- with joy, with modesty, with fear, with kindness.”

And next, let’s take a look at Christianity. This is taken from 2 Corinthians 9:7:

“Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Have you ever heard that one: “God loves a cheerful giver”?

Let’s take a look at Judaism. This comes from the Talmud:

“Whether we bring much or little, it matters not, if only we fix our hearts upon our Father in heaven.”

This is a very beautiful saying.

Let’s look at Buddhism next. This comes from the Sutta Nipata:

“‘Make your offering,’ said the Master, ‘As you make it, be pleased in mind. Make your mind completely calm and contented. Focus and fill the offering-mind with the giving. From this secure position you can be free from ill will.’”

And finally, let’s take a look at Unificationism, words from our True Parents:

“The Unification Church states that salvation comes through attendance. It is justification through attendance; in other words salvation through attendance. When men buy suits for each season, they should be doing that for Heavenly Father as well. However, since He does not have a body, they should combine a monetary offering with their devotion instead. During these seasons they should make an offering in the donation box for the sake of the church, with a tearful heart of attending God, regardless of whether anyone is watching. If they can do so, that devotion will accumulate… This way of living should be real and expressed; not remain only as a concept.”

So what is the point of these readings? I would say that what is needed is heart. When we give, when we offer anything, it’s the heart that is of importance. And we also need to give joyfully and have the right motivation for heaven. I think we all know this. But did you notice that it also refers to the size? And what is interesting is that oftentimes that what appears to be very small as an offering in our eyes, can be quite large in the eyes of our Creator, our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.

Let’s take a look at examples of this. In the Scriptures there is a great example, in Mark 12: 41-43, where Jesus is talking about a poor widow. Let’s read together:

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.’”

How is that possible? Anyone? How is that possible? What’s the answer? It’s heart, right? It’s her heart. Obviously the rich people gave or donated from their abundance. She donated from the little she had, from her heart. So, it’s interesting. People watching her would think, “Oh! what a small amount!”, but that’s not what God thought, right? That’s not what Jesus thought. When Jesus looked at that situation, he knew that that woman had given much more; in the eyes of God that small offering was quite large.

I think we could say that Jesus is inviting us to have the same inner heart that that woman had, that we also should love God with all our heart, and all our soul and all our mind as she demonstrated.

Here is another example I’d like to share with you. Recently a sister in our church shared with me, with some embarrassment, that recently she had started her Cheon Bok Gung donation. She had started with a very small amount and she was very apologetic to me. But actually, I was really inspired and I felt God also was really inspired. I really believed that because of the determination she had, undoubtedly she would reach her goal. Again, such a small amount, but that’s what she could give, and because she was giving it with an amazing heart, I really felt God could receive that donation.

Now, I want you to be careful. Somebody might be sitting here thinking, “Wow! Did I just hear Rev. Brazil correctly? Is he saying I can offer just a little? Oh! I’m really happy I came to church today. Oh, happy day!”

Not so fast! I often quote to myself the following passage, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Let’s take a closer look at that Scripture, Luke 12: 48. Let’s read together: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

So, I’m sorry. Please don’t misunderstand me! If you have been blessed with much, of course God expects much. If you haven’t been blessed with so much -- yet -- then of course, based on heart we give. God is looking at the heart -- right? -- not the amount. So, if you can give much but you just give a little, is that a good heart? Of course not! So that’s a passage that I often quote to myself. Again, be careful.

However, today I want to focus on the seemingly small and seemingly insignificant offerings that we may hesitate to give, or we may hesitate to offer. Now, I am not just speaking of money. There are many other ways that we can offer, we can give things to others, to the church, for example. Would you like to give me some examples? What are some of the ways that you can offer? Time, that’s an excellent one. What else? Service, great! What else? Cleaning, that’s a great one. What else? Conditions, OK. What else? Witnessing. Any others? Appreciation, offering someone a compliment, lending your ears, simply listening to someone, especially at two o’clock in the morning. That would definitely fit in the category of an offering. A kind action! These are all offerings.

However, it’s really interesting that oftentimes we don’t take the action because we feel perhaps it’s too little, it’s too insignificant, it won’t make any difference. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever thought that way? However, sometimes the smallest gesture can make a huge impact on someone’s life. Have you ever heard of such stories where a small act of kindness changed a person’s life?

Let’s take a look at this next quote, very interesting words. A wise man said this: “Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”

There’s a great commercial that I saw in America, on the Internet. I’m sorry I don’t know what the product is, but it’s a great commercial. In this commercial, there are many people. Person number one does a small act of kindness for someone, and person number two sees that person doing it, so person number two also does a kind act for another person. Person number three sees person number two doing it, so what does person number three do later? He or she also does a kind act. It’s a very interesting commercial. Obviously, the kind acts accumulate. So, you may think what you are doing is very small but the impact it might have on another person may be much larger than you think.

Let’s take a look at another quote. This is comes from Dr. “Love” -- that’s his nickname -- Leo Buscaglia: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” This man was a professor, an author and a very famous motivational speaker. Those words are so true.

How often have you not done something because you thought, “Ah! It’s too small. I’ll just wait until it gets bigger; then I’ll give it.” The problem with that is it may be too late. The opportunity may no longer present itself. Perhaps your offering will be lost. So I would suggest if you have it in your heart and mind, don’t hesitate. Don’t worry or think how small it might be, because it will be appreciated. It will be valued by someone.

This is an experience I had last Tuesday and is an example of how something incredibly small and seemingly insignificant is so absolutely necessary. Last Tuesday I wanted to connect two items together: a notebook and a TV, down at the VIP cafe. In order to do that, of course, I needed the video cable, but for sound I needed the audio cable. You can go to Yongsan and buy it for 3000 won, but without it I was out of luck and really frustrated. I was running around trying to find a microphone and connect it. We got a microphone but it did not seem to work. Finally, Mr. Cho came to my rescue and he brought the audio cable. This is a very simple thing, which we’ve all experienced! Something very small makes a huge difference whether or not something can work. We’ve all had that experience, right? Unfortunately, I was powerfully reminded last Tuesday.

I’d like to share with you a cute little story. This is probably a story that you’re all aware of: “The Lion and the Mouse.” Who is familiar with that story? OK, a lot of you are not familiar. Well, in this story, one day a lion is sleeping in the field and a mouse is running up and down the lion’s back. And the lion wakes up, very unhappy, grabs the mouse, and he is about to eat the mouse when the mouse says, “No! Don’t eat me. One day I might be able to help you.” “Ha!” roared the lion, “you, little mouse, help me? I don’t think so. But you made me laugh so I’ll let you go.”

What do you think happened? A few weeks later, the great lion was captured in a net. He couldn’t get out, even though he was very powerful and strong. Along came the mouse. The mouse saw his situation, chewed the rope with its sharp teeth and freed the lion. The mouse said to him, “You once laughed at me. You thought I was too little to do you a good turn but see, you owe your life to poor little mouse.”

Well, that story might sound somewhat far-fetched and you might be thinking, “Why is he telling us a children’s story?” But actually there is a really powerful lesson for us to learn there. What is it? It’s not the size of the act or action that is important, but the difference that a small act or action can make. Did you get that? One more time. It’s not the size of the act or action that is important but the difference that a small action or act can make. Has anyone here experienced that? A small act, maybe by someone not so significant or important, had a incredible impact on you or another person.

I’d like to share one more story before I close. This is a true story; it happened a few years ago at an airport. A group of men had been on a business trip and they were returning home, but they were behind schedule, they were late. In the airport they were in a huge rush, and one of the men accidentally knocked over an apple cart. A young woman was selling apples and the apples flew all over the floor.

All the men continued going because, as they looked at their watches, “Oh my Gosh! The airplane is leaving in ten minutes, we have to go!” But finally one man’s conscience was conflicted, and he thought, “I must go back and help.” So, he told his friends, “Please tell my wife I won’t be home for dinner tonight; I’ll be taking the later flight. Please let her know that.”

He went back to help this young lady who was 16 years old and she was blind. She could not see, and she was on the floor trying to find the apples, with tears coming down her cheeks because nobody stopped to help her. Everyone was in a hurry. The man who came back knelt down, collected the apples, put the cart back upright, and placed the apples back on the cart. He noticed that many of the apples were battered and bruised, so he took them and set them aside. Then he took out his wallet and he gave the young lady $40 and he said, “I am so sorry for the accident. I hope this covers the expenses, and I hope you are alright.” She said, crying, “Yes, I am OK, I am OK. Thank you.” Then he said to her, “I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly”, and he turned to leave.

Then the blind girl called out to him, “Mister!” The man paused, turned, and looked into the blind girl’s eyes, and she continued, “Are you Jesus?” The man, with tears forming in his eyes, continued to walk to his airplane, thinking about what she had said, and continued thinking about that thought all the way home.

So, are you Jesus? Are you Rev. Moon? Are you Mrs. Moon? Am I Jesus? Am I Rev. Moon? What do I mean by that? That’s our destiny, isn’t it? To be so much like Jesus, so much like Rev. Moon, like Mrs. Moon, that people cannot tell the difference, as we live and interact in a world that is blind to their love, that are blind to their life, blind to their grace.

You know, we claim to know them, but we also should walk, live and act as they do, as they would. Knowing our True Parents is definitely more than just quoting our church Scriptures or coming to church. It’s actually living the word as our life unfolds day by day.

So, we should become such people, I should become such a person that when people see me, they might have the same question, when they see you they might have the same question, “Are you Jesus? Are you Mrs. Moon? Are you Rev. Moon?”

What kind of giver am I? What kind of giver are you? What kind of giver are we? What is our offering? What is our community’s offering?

In closing, what can we learn today? I think we can learn four things. First: all offerings, however small, however seemingly insignificant, if made with the right heart, have great value, are greatly appreciated, and are greatly needed. Second: Be careful! To whom much is given, much is expected. Third: Do not hesitate to give, do not hesitate to offer. Do not wait until that offering might be larger, because you may not get another opportunity. Give when you can. And fourth: Become the kind of person of whom others will ask or at least think, “Wow! Is she Mrs. Moon? Is he Rev. Moon? Is he Jesus?”

Closing Prayer by Rev. Michael Brazil:

Join me in prayer please.

Our Heavenly Father, our Heavenly Mother, we thank You so much for the incredible love and guidance You give to us. Father, we are so sorry that so often we may not understand how valuable our giving is. Help us to truly become giving people -- not out of duty or obligation, not out of compulsion, as we read in the World Scriptures today -- but out of our hearts, out of our sincere desire to give, knowing that You are so excited and happy… knowing that as we give, we, the givers, are the ones who are blessed.

Father, today we heard a very simple message, but, I hope, a message that all, especially myself, can take to heart, strive to practice: that a small act of kindness may lead to amazing results; and that many small acts of kindness together, many small offerings put together can become a tidal wave of love, of service, that can transform a nation.

Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for the amazing messages that You have for us, for our True Parents, for the love and the truth that they have given to us. We pray that we can continue to understand and to receive, and that we can continue to offer to our True Parents a flawless offering that, when done with the right heart, can be seen in Your eyes as a large offering. We thank You so deeply, and we wish to offer all this to You. Bless the brothers and sisters from around the world, Aju. 

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