UCCP as whole, first Sunday is usually the installation Sunday for the new pastor or pastors assigned to new church assignments. Installation also of the new elected church officers but due to COVID-19 we cannot do these things.
These important events in the life of the church, as a result status quo for the officers of the church since there is no election that took place this year and hold-over for all pastors. No movement until such time that this virus will stop and we can go back, not anymore to the normal one but conditioning ourselves already to this new normal life after the Covid.
That after the death of the Master the disciples have scattered. Their faith had been shaken. Everything seemed over. All their certainties have crumpled and their hopes have died. But the message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness.
The news is spread that Jesus is Risen and there was Jesus’ command to go to Galilee to meet Him there. Now we may ask, why in Galilee? What is the significance of returning to Galilee? Galilee is the place where, let’s say, everyday had or has begun.
They are to be turned to the place where they were first called. It was in Galilee where Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. There he had told them and there they have met every day and followed him.
To return to Galilee would also mean that they have to relive everything under the basis of the Cross and its victory. And what do I mean by that? Meaning, going back to what Jesus did during his earthly life and that includes his preaching, doing miracles, and a community that he had organized. So this is Galilee.
A place where Jesus wanted to meet his disciples after his Resurrection. It’s like saying, “Let’s meet there and let’s start all over again. For each of us too, there is a Galilee. Galilee, by the way, is not necessarily a place but could also be a situation.
In the life of every Christian probably their Galilee is their baptism or probably after their baptism because it is the experience of a personal encounter with the Master and the story of Jesus Christ who called them to follow him and to share in his mission. It could also be a choice we make. A desolate journey of physical, emotional, or spiritual thing.
It could be a broken relationship or unrealized dreams. It may simply be a circumstance of our everyday lives. Whatever it is, the joy-filled and hope-filled message of this verse 16 is the promise made to us that Christ is not only there in Galilee when we arrive but he has gone ahead of us to that desolate place so that we might have loving arms in which to fall at journey’s end.
But of course the story did not end there because the succeeding verses tell us more after meeting them. He commissioned them as if Jesus is saying, “Ok let’s forget everything that happened.
You are all forgiven. You have seen me now yet and still doubted but inspite of that I called you today again and this time with emphasis and with strong conviction because that authority is from above given to him to say to his disciples this statement, and for me, Jesus is telling a very important address for his disciples to do and this time they have to do it seriously.
And what is that? In verse 19 “Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of age.” There are four action verbs used here.
First, GO. First thing you do is you go. Yes, you certainly cannot go out this time but you can do something great. Go to your cell phone, to your laptop, computer, and take the names of your friends, maybe members in the family that have not yet received Jesus Christ. Call them. Text them.
Minister to them and you share Jesus to them. Let us chat Jesus. Chat the gospel of Jesus. There are innovative ways to do. Now that we have this COVID-19 certainly the word, the gospel of Jesus – shall and never be contained behind locked doors but through this of technology we cannot mourn opportunity.
Next step, do make disciples. Take note of this. Jesus said, “Go make disciples. He did not say go and make new church members. What our church needs are faithful and obedient disciples who are committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and in teaching the words of God to others.
The implication here is that, disciples are made and they are not born and that is why the command is to make disciples. There are those who are gifted in this area. Someone who can give us training to be disciples. Therefore be intentional. Be serious this time in making these people come to know Jesus and that set him as their Lord and Saviour.
Nurture them or nurture them with the words of Jesus and the scripture. Then if you find difficulty doing it alone, seek the help of your pastors. We have pastors in charge of discipleship and equipping in the person of Pastor Wenzyl or any of your pastors. Next step is do baptize them. In our tradition, we recognize only one baptism using the Triune God.
Baptism in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Baptism is very important. It is a declaration that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. It is also your public declaration or confession of your faith and commitment to Jesus Christ.
It is the next step after salvation, repentance and faith and is an important foundation for Christian life. Remember in Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Baptism is a symbol of our new life as a Christian.
We bury the old life and we rise to walk in new life. Last step, Do Teach them. The question is: What is it that we should teach them? These “Them” refer to those new converts.
Those newly welcomed in the Christian fold. These commands teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you, means that we have to teach our disciples to bring their lives under the authority of the Word of God. Every fiber of their being they have to obey what is in the Bible in order to make their lives more like Jesus.
It is not our intention to proselyte them. To bring them into our church but of course we do not also close the possibility that if they really want to come and join us for that matter, well, then we welcome them.
But as if I have said we have the responsibility and the accountability to feed and nurture just like what Jesus wanted Peter to prove to him that if he really loves Jesus he has to feed his lamb, take care of his sheep and what is important here is that when we go and do discipleship we don’t do this alone.
You cannot say that you are not qualified. You are not equipped. Making others as disciples of Christ is a work of you and me. Friends this is the challenge for everyone: “Go and Do make disciples of Christ. To baptize them in the name of the Father, The son and the Holy Spirit and do teach them to obey all that God has commanded to you. And when you go and do all these the promise is that he will be with you until the very end of age.” Amen.
(By Reverend Grace Alquiza Bangisan, First Sunday after Pentecost, June 14, 2020)