Deut. 28:1-6; I Cor. 4:1-5; Matthew 22:36-40, 28:18-20

From our birth we write three books. The first is the book of the past. That book we have already completed. The second book is that of the present. We are now writing the last pages of this book for 2007 and soon we will finish the final chapter. The third book is the book of the future which has not been written yet. The key to this book is in the hand of God. So throughout life we write three books.
It is always good to pause, recall, remember and reflect what we have written on the pages of the book of the past of our local church. I am sure and believe that we have developed our spiritual life zealously and written a good book.

First, as Christians let us be grateful for what God has done in and through us.

As Christians we are God’s workers. Being faithful means obeying the word of God. In the center of our heart we have to instill the word of God and follow it. Even though we are not perfect and even though sometimes we are unfaithful to God, in spite of this, God still bestows grace and blessings on us. Personally and family-wise God has been with us and we have to be grateful for that.
Now what have written in the book of history of the FUMC?
We have two daughter churches, the first was born on November 24, 1966 named Davao City central United Methodist Church, and the second was born on March 10, 1990 with the name of Panabo City United Methodist Church. Only two daughters church for the last 55 years? The Christians church is to be prolific and pro-life and therefore expected by our Lord to have more daughter church, for that is what the Church of Jesus Christ for. Remember the Great Commission of our when he commission us to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the command I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mtt. 28:18-20.
Of course we are already 55 years old, does that mean that we have already reach our menopausal age? Or does it mean that we have already matured, strong, stable and therefore more prepared and ready to embark unchartered areas of birthing more daughter churches? It is my faith and my hope that this is so.
In the ministry of teaching our church converted in 1979 our Day Care program for children into a more formal Pre-School education under what was then called Twinkle star Learning Center. Our teaching ministry grew and expanded to primary and elementary education under what everybody knows as the United Methodist School of Davao. The future of UMSD is unlimited, the future is green and the Lord is with us in this ministry, for he has promised us “be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mtt. 28:20.
FUMC Task force was also established with the ministry of helping young churches to procure church lot and build their sanctuary and parsonage.
We have shared our dedicated and committed lay members to servant leadership in our district, annual conference, national conference and our global church. For that nature of our church to continue we are doing our best to train our younger generation in our faith community.
We have seen the wisdom of helping children and young people who are poor but deserving to pursue their education. Thus we have established a strong scholarship program in United Methodist School of Davao, Mindanao Methodist Bible School, Southern Philippines Methodist Colleges, Wesley Divinity School and other personal scholarship in the schools in Davao City.
Of course in making disciples we have done our personal best to bring people to Christ and his church. Proof of this is the growing membership of our faith community here in Obrero.
For all of these fruits of the Spirit of God in and through and many more not mentioned, we offer to God our thanks and our praises.

Second, we should not be negative in judging our past.

Sometimes people tend to misjudge themselves and their ability when people around them have negative attitudes. We are likely to be influenced by that negative attitude.
When Mrs. Ramon Saura and Miss Mercedes Castro started gathering Methodists in Davao City for prayer, Bible study and Sunday worship they were advised and discouraged by others, saying “The Methodist Church and the UCCP are no different, putting up a Methodist group is a separatist spirit.” This attitude was manifested in Tagum when the family of the Rev. Calixto Garibay, the appointed District Superintendent of the Eastern Mindanao district of NWPAC, was coming down from the boat they took from Luzon, several former Methodist from Luzon were holding placards ‘There are no Methodist Here!” Had the two women of old and had D.S. Garibay succumbed to the negative responses of the people then, we would have Methodist Church in the Davao provinces.
One of the elders of our church was criticized severely for selling one of the eight lots here in Obrero in order to build the first Twinkle Star Learning Center building. He was acting from an inspiration he saw of a flourishing children’s ministry in Switzerland through formal pre-school education catering to the poor immigrants. Have he feared their criticism we would not have our elementary institution today. We should judge our past more positively. Even if we have made mistakes and have failed, we should be positive.
When Bishop Jose Gamboa Jr. proposed a Cathedral in Davao City and wanted the two congregations in to be housed in that one big sanctuary, we responded by building this present sanctuary changing our small old church.
If we have failed to have more daughter churches for the last 55 years, we now know that we can be more prolific and pregnant future children, as God open opportunity for us in the coming years. We believe in the words of Paul in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” We believed that because we had faith in God we could achieve great things for God.
Dear brothers and sisters, we should listen to the words of God and not underestimate ourselves. We must not be negative but with a positive attitude attain success in our church and in our life.

Lastly, let us look at the coming new year of our church and make it a successful one.

Philippians 1:6 says, “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Christians should work hard and the praise will come from God. Let us work hard so that God will say “Well done” to us.
Our motto this year is “In Mission together for Christ and the World with Open Mind, Open Heart and Open Door.” This is a reminder for all of us that we have a mission as a church of Jesus Christ embodied in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of our Lord. We have to preach the gospel of Jesus, make disciples and teach them to obey the will of God. In order to succeed in this mission we have to do it with an open mind, open heart and open door and motivated and powered by our love to God and our fellow human kind.
The coming years to come that God bestows upon us and our church, open many opportunities for us to obey the great commandment of God and fulfilling the Great Commission given to the community of the Christian faith.
We can make up for what we have failed to do. Our life and our mission depend much on us. We must take our opportunity and make it a successful one. If we are faithful in our life, obey God’s word and follow his guidance and direction, we will be blessed by God and many others too will be blessed in and through us to eternal life.
Let us press on then with faith and with courage, to take hold of the opportunities that God will give to all of us Christians especially the constituency of the First United Methodist Church of Davao City.
(FUMC Anniversary 2007- Message: Rev. Francisco Bilog)

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