118 Years of Doing Mission
by Rev. Canon David B. Tabo-oy
v2Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. As they looked on, a change came over Jesus, v3and his clothes became shining white—whiter than anyone in the world could wash them. v4Then the three disciples saw Elijah and
Moses talking with Jesus. v5Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, & quotE
;Teacher, how good it is that we are here!
We will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah & quote; v6He and the others were so frightened that he did not know what to say. v7Then a cloud appeared and covered them with its shadow, and a voice came from the cloud, "e; This is my own dear Son—listen to him!& quote; v8They took a quick
look around but did not see anyone else; only Jesus was with them. v9As they came down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, & quote; Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has risen from death.& quote; – Mark 9:2-9
The Easter School now known as Easter College celebrates her founding anniversary on February 5-9 with various activities highlighting the special character of the school as a Christian institution. Founded in 1906 by the Rt. Rev. Charles Henry Brent, the first Bishop of the Missionary District of the Philippine Islands under the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, Easter School prides itself as the first private school established in Baguio City. Easter College also takes delight in having been instrumental in
strengthening the Christian Anglican faith and promoting education in the Cordillera region and beyond. The main event of the celebration was the Thanksgiving Mass offered on Thursday (February 6) at the College gymnasium with Bishop Nestor Poltic, Sr., of North Central Philippines Diocese presiding. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Rooted and Steadfast in the Service of the Lord” with scripture reference in 1 Corinthians 15:57-58). I am sharing here some points in my Homily which I preached during the celebration.
Christian Education. “I am much afraid that the universities will prove to be the great gates to hell, unless they diligently labor to explain the Holy Scriptures and to engrave them on the hearts of the youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution where men are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”
These are words of Martin Luther regarding proper Christian education. On the same line of thought and spirit, I would like to congratulate Easter College for being consistent in pursuing its vision and mission to be “… a caring community that promotes spiritual vitality through sound Christian Education and academic rigor which equips, challenges, and inspires students to achieve academic excellence.”
Our congregating this morning offering this Thanksgiving Mass is one concrete evidence of the passionate pursuit and effort to fulfill the mission and vision of the College. Congratulations madam President and the Board of Trustees. Be rest assured madam and honored members of the BOT, you are always in the prayers of the Church. Indeed, we have 118 and more reasons to give thanks and celebrate.
Easter College is an institution of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. As such, Easter College is duty-bound and compelled to conform, adhere, and actively participate in its mission to “proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God; to baptize, teach and nurture New Believers; to respond to the human needs by a loving service; to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation; and to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth…” In so doing by God’s grace, we shall be celebrating a Scripture-rooted, spirit-fired and discipled churches, institutions and communities. Every good-minded or well-meaning Easterite should be aware of these precepts in order that there can be more cohesive and intentional endeavors in the fulfillment of our given tasks and responsibilities in this college.
But we can only be half-baked visionaries without a vision if we are not rooted or founded firmly like the wise man who built his house upon the rock in the story of Jesus in our gospel. The ‘wise man’ story is Jesus' famous illustration contrasting two foundations for life. One is lived according to His teaching; the other is not. Foundations matter, both in construction and in the way a person views the world. Those who follow Jesus' teaching are like a wise man who built a house on a rock. Those who ignore Him are like a foolish man who built a house on sand. One will survive the violent storm. The other will fall hard.
The same is true of those who face the storms of life. I am convinced that your vision to become “A premier educational community rooted in the Holy Scriptures and responsive to local and global realities.” Which is captured in your mission statement “to significantly contribute to the transformation of its stakeholders to become responsible Christian Stewards…” are not just beautiful words or statements but rather the embodiment of the missionary thrust of the whole church which is a response to our Lord’s call and commissioning in Matthew 28:19, when he said “…I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! v19Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, v20and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.”
PAUL tells the Christians in Corinth, “v57But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! v58So then, my dear friends, stand firm and steady. Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord's service is ever useless.”
These verses powerfully conclude Paul's teaching on the resurrection of Christian believers: when the last trumpet blasts and Christ returns for those who belong to Him. In that moment, all believers in Jesus, living and dead, will be transformed into the glorified, eternal bodies God has promised us. Death will be defeated forever, never to hurt anyone again. Sin brings death, and the law is the power of sin, but God has given us the victory over death by forgiving our sin through faith in Jesus and by His grace.
Now, steadfastness, or perseverance as some might call it, isn't just about hanging on when the going gets tough. It's about remaining faithful and constant in our love and service to the Lord, come what may and ever focused on that hope of the resurrection.
A very appropriate illustration about STEADFASTNESS is the animal Cheetah, the big cat of Africa. A recent television documentary pointed out that the cheetah survives on the African plains by running down its prey. The big cat can sprint seventy miles per hour. But the cheetah cannot sustain that pace for long. Within its long, sleek body is a disproportionately small heart, which causes the cheetah to tire quickly. Unless the cheetah catches its prey in the first flurry, it must abandon the chase.
Sometimes Christians seem to have the cheetah’s approach to ministry. We speed into projects with great energy. But lacking the heart for sustained effort, we fizzle before we finish. We vow to start faster and run harder, when what we need may be not more speed but more staying power–stamina that comes only from a bigger heart. Motion and busyness, no matter how great, yield nothing unless we allow God to give us the heart. Sabi nga ng Gilas Pilipinas, Puso!
Fratres et Sorores en Christo, Carpe Diem! Brothers and sisters in Christ, Seize the day! It is easy to live in the past. And it is easy to dream away the future. It’s a real challenge to face the present, because it means we can no longer allow ourselves the luxury of saying, “One of these days I’ll do something about my temper … my commitment to God … my health … my responsibility to my family … and so on.” Facing the present means that we put our faith in Jesus Christ, and trust Him to be involved in every part of our lives. Facing the present means that we choose to live life as it comes to us day by day. Not in the past, not in the future, but right here and right now. Carpe Diem! God does not want us to waste our lives away. He wants us to “seize the moment” and live every day of our lives with a purpose. He’s given us a reason for living: to follow Jesus. And to follow Jesus is to remain rooted and
steadfast in our service to our Lord. Let me end with this prayer attributed to Ignatius Loyola, “Teach us good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deserves. To give and not to count the cost; To fight and not to heed the wounds; To toil and not seek for rest; To labor and not ask for any reward. Save that of knowing that we do Thy will. Amen.”
This Sunday is the last in the liturgical season of Epiphany. It is also called Transfiguration Sunday with the gospel of Mark narrative of the epiphany of our Lord as the Son of God on top of a mountain, “v7Then a cloud appeared and covered them with its shadow, and a voice came from the cloud, "This is my own dear Son—listen to him!" “The church exists by mission as a fire exists by burning.” No burning, no fire. No mission, no church. Emil Brunner nicely sums up this simple truth in one inescapable sentence. For generations, the church has tried to ignore it, making the church into a private club, a comfortable chaplaincy, and a fund-raising and fund-dispersing organization. But churches that ignore the call to active mission dwindle and die. In contrast, churches that make mission their focus thrive – whether they are large or small, the spirit in congregations that look outward rather than inward generates the light of Christ and attracts new life.
Mission cannot exist without missionaries – people who go forth and enter into relationships with other people in the name and spirit of Christ, whether going means across the street or across the world. We celebrate the missionaries -those people who have packed up their lives and moved elsewhere or had their lives significantly changed, as they crossed cultural, language, geographical and many other boundaries – who really or metaphorically, left home and familiar comfort, to sojourn with God and God’s people in another part and a different way of God’s world.
In Luke’s account of the Transfiguration event we read, “While he was praying, his face changed its appearance, and his clothes became dazzling white.” (Luke 9:29). Not only Jesus’ face, but even his clothes were suffused with that same light of God’s being. And Jesus was transfigured. Note that this happened just before Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem for the last time. God was preparing Jesus, his only begotten Son, for the climax of his mission on earth, proclaiming the truth of God’s Kingdom in the very precincts of the Temple in Jerusalem. When people are on mission, sent by God to shed the light of the Gospel, they are lit up with the Spirit of God who moves through us all and most brightly through the combined light generated by a community on mission. ‘So when the church is moving out in mission, the light, the warmth, the life-giving fire of God is generated and cast abroad into the world. But when
the church goes to sleep, becomes static, or turns in on itself, no light is shed. What is the nature of this Divine light? Paul writes to the Corinthians that the church shines most brightly with the light of divine love. The church is the body of Christ and we are all members of it individually. When we are truly alight – on fire – with the love of God, the church casts light and warmth into the world, it burns with the fire of its mission, and many are drawn to it.’ And so as we join in God’s mission we are all changed, from one degree of glory to another, into the image and likeness of Christ. This is the work of the Spirit today, just as it was the work of the Spirit in Paul’s complicated Mediterranean world of the first century. (sermonsthatwork.com).
So we thank God today for the missionaries that endeavored for the birthing of Easter College and has done and still doing Christ’s mission after a century and eighteen years as a Christian school. Glory to our God whose power working through all of us has done and is doing infinitely more than we can ask or imagine doing our own missionary works. Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus forever. Amen.
Let us pray.
O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory unto glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect, Last Sunday After Epiphany, BCP).**