Wednesday, April 10, 2013
A Celebration of Hope
I promised that I’ll write a separate entry why I haven't been blogging much for the last couple of months. This is not book related, and it might take a couple of posts to complete. So I guess, this is fair warning.
Last February 2013 marks the 110th Anniversary of our church, The St. Mark United Methodist Church. We are strategically located –well, I assumed that God strategically put us there- near the railroad of Sampaloc Manila. We are surrounded by indigent families; most of them live in shanties -no public toilet, plumbing, electricity, or portable water was provided for them. I said strategically, because God knew very well where we are needed and placed us smack in the middle of it. For years, it has been our objective to be God’s vessel in bringing hope for this community. A grand ambition and too righteous, I know. But someone has to do it, and I must admit that it wasn't an easy job. This past 3 years, a lot of development took place. We took and give seminars to understand our community better -to better our knowledge in community development, provide manageable and sustainable livelihood for them and partnered with Social Welfare. Through these, projects have been conceptualized and executed with success. We have a lot to thank God for those 110 years. So this last month-long anniversary celebration, we adopted the theme: “St. Mark UMC, 11 Dekadang Daluyan ng Pag-asa”.
February 3. First Sundays are always marked by the Communion or The Lord’s Supper. We opted to celebrate it traditionally. The elements were all laid on the table, while the people surrounded it to take part in the remembrance and renew their covenant. It had its effects on the congregation. It reminded them that the Lord invited us to join Him at His table, not for ranks or recognition, but to be servants of all (Mark 9:35).
February 10. Second Sunday was the Love Sunday, and we grandly prepared for the renewal of vows of the married couples. They marched down the aisle arm-in-arm, preceded by their gowned entourage. Each couple was asked to repeat their vows and kneel before God to receive their blessings. It was such a wonderful occasion. We were honored that this occasion was solemnized by our very own District Superintendent, Rev. Ranny Jacinto. Love was vibrating from every corners of the sanctuary. We believe that Hope begins at home, and prayed that through this celebration the couples will be reminded of their promise with God to uphold their families. (1 Corinthians 7:10)
February 17. Third Sunday was the Little Gethsemane Learning Center Sunday, marking its 5th founding anniversary. It’s an Outreach Project regulated by the church to provide preschool learning and Christian education to children 3-6. In celebration, the pupils sang during the Morning Divine Worship Service; and then held a mini concert in the evening of the same day as tribute to their sponsors. This was our small way of spreading that God brings hope to little children too. (Luke 18:16)
February 24. The last Sunday was a blast. “Everybody’s Birthday” was celebrated joyously. Different lay organizations prepared a Thanksgiving Offering through songs and dances. The Divine Worship was immediately followed by the Lunch Fellowship, by which I mean that we fed more than 200 people. How we did it was a miracle itself. Much like the feeding of the 5,000, near the Sea of Galilee thousands of years ago, only on a smaller scale. The event was concluded with the Sharing of Gifts, where even the young and the old joined in. (Romans 12:10)
I have not mentioned my part in all these. I was humbled to be elected Anniversary Head for this conference year. It was a daunting position, but very rewarding. I take no honor in the celebration’s success, instead, I’m deeply thankful to all my friends, and those servants of the Lord who labored tirelessly that long month. Glory to God!