The Words of the Compton Family
At midnight on New Year’s Eve, and again in the morning on New Year’s Day, Unificationists around the world took time to remember, worship and offer their new year to God. For Unificationists, the first day of the year is “God’s Day” or “True God’s Day”. This year was the 42nd celebration of God’s Day.
During the God's Day morning speech given by Reverend Sun Myung Moon on January 1, 1983, he said, “What kind of day is God's Day? For God, it is a joyful day and a good day. He wants to encounter good people on this day. He wants to bless you and celebrate this day with you.”
The main True God’s Day events this year were held in Chung Pyung, South Korea, where many Unificationists and friends from around the world joined Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his family for the annual midnight prayer and morning pledge service to rededicate themselves to God.
Most American Unificationists could not make it to the events in Korea. Instead, midnight prayer services and morning pledge services were held in every Unificationist community in America. Here is a look at what some members of the WestRock Family Church congregation said about what God’s Day signifies to them personally, their experiences at the midnight prayer and morning pledge service, and how God’s Day relates with their personal and family lives.
Karilee Aoki shared that, “[God’s Day is] a time of renewal and total offering to God. It’s beautiful that a community can come together to pray and bring in the new year in a holy way.” Michiyo Kim said that, “It’s a day to remember [God] and give thanks to Him for giving birth to me and to humanity. It’s also a day where I reflect on my life and think of ways to live a life that God can be proud of.” Jonathan Gullery expressed that, “The experience of God’s Day for me is an affirmation of God’s grace. It’s a time when I’m asked to remember that no matter what has happened in the last year, no matter what troubles, unfulfilled work, mistakes -- whatever -- this is a new day, a new chance and an opportunity to begin everything over.”
Sophia Kirkley, in speaking about the midnight prayer, which was held outdoors in the snow at the Belvedere Holy Rock, shared, “It was an incredible experience. The wind was raging, it was freezing and the sky was radiant with moonlight. I offered God each of my goals: sincere prayer, work on my character, and expand my heart to love more.” In his midnight prayer, Alric Burke asked God how he could best serve Him in 2009, and asked for God’s help in building a strong, intimate and blessed family. Hithia Shibuya used this time to quietly reflect on her year and how she could start the new year better with God. Justin Kim determined in front of God to make this year the best of his life yet, when he could make himself a pillar for God, someone that God can trust.
During the pledge ceremony, brothers and sisters of the WestRock community watched a video of Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s midnight prayer in Korea with simultaneous translation. Leyla Novruzova shared that she felt that “True Parents (referring to Reverend Moon and his wife) are with us and leading us to God.” Chiofa Sakuwa said that she felt True Parents’ love, fervor and determination. After the video, Reverend Andrew Compton, pastor of the WestRock Family Church, gave a short message, in which he recounted major events in 2008 and reminded the congregation of the importance of having a deep longing in their hearts to love someone other than themselves. He said that it was through having that kind of constant longing to love others that they can be truly happy. Finally, he shared about his goals for WestRock in the new year in the areas of youth education, small group fellowship and outreach.
Karilee Aoki said that she felt hope and inspiration, and could redetermine herself through attending the pledge service. Justin Kim realized that no dream is bigger and more universal than One Family Under God. Michiyo Kim shared that, “There are only a few times in my life where I could confidently say I felt God speaking to me. I remember the joy and inspiration I felt during those times. Listening to [an analogy of] the feeling of joy after finally being able to hear God speak makes me hunger for those moments. I need to remind myself now and then to clear my ears so I can hear God’s voice.”
When asked how God’s Day relates to his personal and family life, Jonathan Gullery shared that, “I grew up Catholic, and [God’s Day] is very different than a confession-type experience, where you’re forgiven. [Instead,] it’s an affirmation of life, of co-creativity with God to start over with everything brand new.”
Karilee Aoki expressed that “God’s Day has everything to do with the family. It’s important to start the new year with your family and have the same beginning point.”
Alric Burke shared that God’s Day is “a way for [him] to really reflect on the past year and to spend time with brothers and sisters in the community, starting the year as ‘One Family’ with our Heavenly Parent.”
Speaking about the God’s Day celebration, Susan Bouachiri, who is the chairperson of the WestRock Council, shared that, “This tradition of gathering together with other families is something my children really look forward to.”
When asked privately about his understanding of the meaning of God’s Day, Reverend Compton explained that, “The idea is that we give priority to God. We place God above all other things in our life. Therefore… the first day of each year is a day to greet God and remember that God is the God of everyone -- it is a day to pray for world peace, peace in our nation, and peace in our homes. For those who don’t know of God’s existence, as a personal God, January 1st is still a day to give respect to the greater purpose in life… Our greater purpose is not defined by any human law, but exists in the conscience of all people… We Unificationists call it the “Ideal of Creation,” something that all things in the universe have been striving for since the beginning of time. It is an ideal that all of us can imagine and describe and hope to see come true -- a world of justice, liberty, goodness, beauty, truth, and most importantly true love.”