April 22, 2024

The Sagada Ecumenical Team (SET) has participated in the local government unit’s regular flag raising program last Monday and are grateful of the happy acceptance and appreciation by the municipal government headed by the mayor.
It’s a happy acceptance and implementation by the Sagada mayor for the SET to be participating in the municipality’s Monday program.
It is our hope that the SET will eventually take shape into a strong group to advance the work of evangelization, to promote peace, to help advance good governance, and to be involved in the current social issues of the community like children in conflict with the law, violence against women and children, gambling, illegal drugs, and the pressing environmental issues.
The SET is still in its fresh beginnings with the energetic pastor, Rev. Hilda Telan organizing the schedules for the different church leaders to take turns in the short prayer service during the Monday program. Rev. Constancio Na-oy is heading and organizing the Episcopalian Diocese of Northern Philippines and I organize the Roman Catholic Church, both in Sagada.
Ecumenism is not a new concept though but we practice it today in Sagada with a renewed spirit. We come together as church and spiritual leaders being involved healthily in the political life of the community by encouraging holy life with one another and journeying spiritually with government officials and employees.
Majority of Sagada is Episcopalian with around 85 percent and the Roman Catholic is a minority, with maybe more or less 10 percent. There are other denominations such as Free Believers in Christ Fellowship, Jehova’s Witnesses, Iglesia ni Cristo, Pentecostal Church, Growing in Grace, Sapilada, and Baptist Church.
It’s a good picture to see how the different church leaders are coming together to support the common good of the community and to uphold good governance.
The SET is elated to sense and feel the acceptance by the local government especially Mayor James Pooten and Vice Mayor Felecito Dula. The sincere appreciation from the employees and from the government officials will certainly fuel the enthusiasm of the SET to serve more. But above all, the direction and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit must drive the SET to continue. There will be struggles along the way. There will be obstacles but the love to service will keep the ecumenical movement alive.
The love and providence of God will keep the zeal burning. For as long as we serve selflessly for God and the community, the SET will continue, but if it will be painted with self-hidden interest, it will die a natural death.
The Ecumenical Spiritual Upliftment is scheduled every last Monday of the month and I was tasked on Oct. 28.
My message revolved on the powerful concept of surrender: self-surrender, hopeful surrender, grateful surrender, rebel surrender. I quote the letter of Saint Paul to Timothy:
“As for me, I am already poured out as a libation, and the moment of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now, there is laid up for me, the crown of righteousness with the Lord, the just judge, will reward me, on that day, and not only me, but all those who have longed for his glorious coming. At my first hearing in court, no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them, to proclaim the word fully, and let all the pagans hear it. So, I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will save me from all evil, bringing me to his heavenly kingdom. Glory to him forever and ever. Amen!”
St. Paul honestly acknowledged his human capacity and the transitoriness of human life, “the moment of my departure has come.” He experienced self-pity as well, “At my first hearing in court, no one supported me; all deserted me.”
Hopeful surrender
St. Paul, despite the realization that human reality is temporary, said he was hopeful that holy life will not end in vain, especially the goodness and righteousness lived. “Now, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness with which the Lord, the just Judge, will reward me, but also those who longed for his glorious coming.” He realized too that despite being left by everyone he was consoled and made more confident. “But, the Lord was at my side, giving me strength. I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will save me from all evil, bringing me to his heavenly kingdom.”
Grateful surrender
St. Paul experienced salvation. He was made more confident. Realizing all the goodness of God, he praised him. When we surrender everything to God, we can let go of the temporal anxiety, engrained depressions, frustrations, and bitterness in life, and even hatred. Only then that we can truly thank him with purified heart. As St. Paul writes, “Glory to him forever and ever. Amen!” In grateful surrender that we can experience the overflowing providence of Jesus.
Rebel surrender
If there is one thing missing among our rebel brothers and sisters, it is their self-surrender, hopeful surrender, and grateful surrender to God. If I may say, insurgency is looking at oneself as the absolute law and ruler disregarding the Divine Law. Insurgency is irrelevant in the law of Jesus, the law of love.
I ended my message with my newly composed song based from a rebel returnee’s story and from a peace-loving advocate. The mayor, vice mayor, and employees came with their appreciation after listening to the song. I recall Mayor Payko announcing, “This is the first occasion for the song to be heard in public.”
Raymundo Basco of the Department of the Interior and Local Government affirmed publicly as well:
Come home
I lost my way in the mountains. I have shattered my best dreams. I almost ended all my life for irrelevant ideologies. At last, I came to my senses after blindly following my pride.
I almost wasted all my years when I heard the voice, “Come home dear child.”
I must follow the voice to a peaceful life. There’s the world, be immersed and live freely
To become, yes, a channel of peace. I must follow the voice to a peaceful life.
I must come home to see and to live in peace. I need to follow O the way of peace.
I call on you dear sister and brother. Let’s come home for the battle is over. Don’t waste your time O your precious life. Your family is waiting for your return. Give peace a chance to shine for the children. O how lovely to see them smile. They should not be crying but laughing and happy. The reality is here and now.
Coda: Come home. I must come home to live in peace.
There are two significant improvements I observed on Oct. 28 Monday program: The LGU employees and government officials were on time;and they were in their respective uniforms.
Comparing from last year, the municipal government has improved in attendance and punctuality during its flag raising ceremony. I commend as well its strict implementation of the anti-obstruction program, especially the brave efforts of Sirs Jerry Fati-ig and Brent Abad.
Reach Pachie’s Point at [email protected] or at 09051653669.