Posted in Poetry

“Obat Makanyan?”

Obat makanyan ing kakung daramdaman

Neng akakit daka eku balu ing daptan.

Mangabaligo ku, mangalutu ku pa,

Uling neng atsu ka sosobra ku ligaya.

 

Minsan ikit daka keng campus lalakad ka,

Oneng marine kung lapitan daka.

Pakisabian daka sana oneng tatakut ku,

Pota sabian mu pa, “ninu wari yaku?”

 

Obat makanyan e daka aintindyan,

Anya keng makanyan e daka alapitan.

Minsan garapal, minsan mag-alangan,

Obat makanyan, malilitu kung lubusan.

 

Agyang makanyan man e daka akalingwan

Uling ika mu ing kakung luguran.

Ing lugud ku keka alang ka-plastikan,

Uling nung atin, plastic ku naman.

 

Obat makanyan namu ing lugud ku keka,

Masakit intindian, talaga yatang makanyan.

Eku balu ing daptan, eku balu ing gawan.

Dapot agyang makanyan man, kaluguran da ka peksman!

 

Poem# 2:  September 12, 1989 /Language: Kapampangan (Philippines)

 

Posted in Poetry

“Kapwa’y Nasaan?”

Sa tabi ng daan,

marungis ang kabataan,

Mata’y luhaan,

Sikmura’y hinahawakan.

 

Sa bawat patak ng luha

Tinig at nagsusumamo

Na siya’y pakinggan

At siya’y tulungan.

 

Ngunit nasaan,

Ang kanyang tinatawagan?

Ang kapwang tutulong,

Sa kanyang pangangailangan?

 

Kapwa’y nasaan?

Oo, nasaan?

Baka nahihiya?

O, nagbubulagan kaya?

 

Poem#36:  May 29, 1990/ Language: Tagalog (Philippines)

 

Posted in Poetry

“Gising Siya”

Sa aking pag-iisa

Isipa’y nagtatanong

Panginoo’y gising ba?

O nasaan kaya Siya?

 

Minsan ako’y naguguluhan

Bakit may mahirap?

Bakit may mayaman?

Di ba pagtingin Niya’y pantay?

 

Sa kabila noon

Ako pa ri’y nagpapasalamat

Pag-ibig Niya ay tunay

Kahit ako’y makasalanan.

 

Kanya tayong tinatawagan

“Oo” ang inaasahan

Ano ang sagot mo,

Aking kaibigan?

 

Poem #41:  June 11, 1990/ Language: Tagalog (Philippines)

 

Posted in Church History

The Dutch Second Reformation: A Reflection

Although semantics limit scholars in properly describing the Dutch Second Reformation, it is altogether a movement against the degeneration in the moral and spiritual life of the Reformed churches. More than justification, this movement cries out for sanctification.  But sanctification is impossible to achieve without the grace of God.  Human beings are perceived to be incapable of anything good unless God takes action and an adversary, the devil, is always present to persuade people to sin against God.  Therefore, Christ was sent to bring about salvation because there is no way they can save themselves.  The Holy Spirit was sent to gain faith and knowledge of Christ and strengthen them to live godly lives and God provides means of grace so they could resist the devil, flee from sin, and turn their lives around.  With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, using these means of grace, people can experience both internal and external sanctification.

Quite noticeable is the encouragement given by the proponents of this movement to be involved in small groups as one of the means to achieve spiritual growth and godliness.  This way, believers can grown both individually and communally.  There is reciprocal responsibility towards a sanctified life — personal and communal (societal even).  The focus on sanctification does not mean that the reformers did not concern themselves about sound doctrines and Church practices, they are part of God’s means of grace too, but the pressing issue during those times lies in the manner on how the Christians behaved themselves privately and publicly in regards to these means.  Transporting back to the centuries covering the Dutch Reformation makes one reflect about the similarities that this present generation of Christians are facing.  The Church and the society are collapsing at a faster pace both morally and spiritually.  But whether another spiritual movement is on the rise or not, the battle cry is still the same — sanctification of heart and life that can turn this world upside down.

Posted in Church History

Martin Luther’s Freedom of A Christian, 1520

The sixteen century was a time of fear and anxiety. People literally fear death because of Europe’s previous encounter with the bubonic plague that killed a third of the population (3).  War, famine, and other diseases made average life span pegged at forty and the anticipation of death, and fear thereof, was further aggravated by a vengeful and wrathful God being projected by the Church through its teachings and sermons (4).  People in this century also believed in a real, diabolic entity, the Devil, which was responsible for all their miseries (6).  The Basilica of Peter was being built around this time, thus selling of indulgences were authorized by Pope Leo X to support this project (19).  This was the world were Martin Luther grew up with.

In 1483, Martin Luther was born in a small mining community of Eisleben, Germany.  His father was a miner but was able to send the young Luther to the University of Erfurt to study Law in 1501.  His direction shifted to theology after almost being struck by lightning during a thunderstorm just outside his university in 1505.  Luther entered Augustinian order, lived like a monk, and by 1507 was ordained priest (10).  But his rigorous training as a monk and his ministry as a priest could not shake the fear of death and judgment off him.  This contributed much to his spiritual turmoil which led him to dig deeper into the truths of the Scriptures.  The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans gave Luther the answer to his long search for righteousness — for in it is written the justifying work of faith (13).

Luther now understood that penance or good works cannot free him or anyone from sin, death, and hell — faith alone in Christ has the power to do that!  This revelation revolutionized his theology and empowered him to face the world without fear but with freedom that faith alone gives through the word and Word of God.

In Freedom of a Christian, Martin Luther discusses that faith alone, not good works, is what makes a Christian justified and righteous.  This faith sets a Christian free from sin, death, and the devil.  Luther argues that because of faith, a Christian is both “lord of all” and “servant of all” (50).  He presents his argument by mentioning the two natures of a human being.  First, the inner person, which redeemed through faith alone in the word of God, which he describes as “the gospel of God concerning His Son, who was made flesh, suffered, rose from the dead, and was glorified through the Spirit who makes us holy” (53).  Having faith in the word of God gives a person the power to be free from the law, to honor God, and be united with Christ — thus, the double honor of being both a king and a priest.  By faith, a Christian is now a “king” over sin, death, and the devil and is now a “priest who is free to give God honor through prayer, fasting, worship, and do other forms of piety.

Second, the outer person.  Luther makes clear that good works cannot justify a person but are necessary to discipline the body to keep it from doing evil and to serve other people with freedom and love (74).  Good works are the fruits of faith and are not done to liberate a person from the impending wrath or judgement of God.  Therefore, works of penance are not what sets people free and indulgences are not the bridges to forgiveness of sins but faith alone.  Faith liberates while good works celebrate that freedom.  Although sanctification is not in Luther’s vocabulary, as far as Freedom of a Christian is concerned, traces of it are hinted in his argumentation about good works.

The dichotomous explication of Luther about Christian freedom leads him to strike a balance in his understanding of justification and judgement, commands and promises, and law and grace.  For Luther, freedom means achieving that awareness that Christ already paid for everything so that a Christian can live freely ruling and freely serving through faith.

Freedom of a Christian is both a product of Luther’s quest for personal and communal justification.  Living in sixteenth century atmosphere of dread and judgement, Luther sought to gain divine approval by doing all forms of piety that was required of him as a monk but nothing seemed to help and he further plunged into that deep well of Anfechtung (21).  No amount of good works delivered him from that confusing and doubtful state.  He desired forgiveness yet the greater the penance, the greater the distance from God he seemed to feel.  This contrition led him to the unearthing of Scriptural treasures which finally brought the needed liberation from sin, death, and hell — faith justifies!  It was a defining moment for Luther, though no one exactly knows when, because he finally discovered that faith alone was enough for him to be made righteous before God (16-17).

As much as Luther was aware of his personal need of justification, he was well aware of the penance that people do in order to be absolved of their sins and the indulgences that people buy to attain pardon.  He was totally against these indulgences for they tainted the image of the clergy and the Church, abused the people, and denied them of the truth of the gospel.  His personal enlightenment led him to defend the truth of faith and sought to liberate Christianity, particularly the poor, from this deception.  Though his posting of the Ninety-Five Theses at the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg in 1517 was not intended to solicit public opinion, it was readily picked and spread (20).  Perhaps the theses spoke about the real sentiments of the silent majority — do penance and indulgences really deliver people from judgment and death?  Luther’s liberating discovery that faith alone and good works can justify gave the Christians of his time hope, knowing that they were living in a world of fear and uncertainty.  Luther not only ignited debates because of his writings and theology but also paved the way for the Reformation that changed the course of Christian history forever.

Source: Luther, Martin (1520).  Mark D. Tranvick, trans. The Freedom of a Christian:  Luther Study Edition.  Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 2008.

Posted in Sermon

Love floats in chaos

I come from that part of the globe where natural disasters are a common place but I never got used to them. Witnessing destruction of an apocalyptic magnitude right before your very eyes left me horrified. One day the sky turned pitch black; the ground shook every minute; scary rumblings could be heard from afar; rocks, sand, and ashes pounded the roofs of houses like 10,000 marching soldiers; communications were cut; the air was heavy and suffocating due to sulfur dioxide brought by the winds and rains of Typhoon Yunya as Mt. Pinatubo, a once dormant volcano, began unleashing its fury at the same time on that fateful day of 1991. I was 17 and we were within the 40 km (24 miles) radius from the volcano’s summit. Destruction was unimaginable. Hundreds of lives were lost. When nature roars it terrifies us! Nations slump helplessly when undersea earthquakes trigger tsunamis that could kill hundreds of thousands of people. Remember the Asian tsunami in 2004 that killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries? Or the Japanese tsunami in 2011 that caused a nuclear meltdown and killed almost 16,000? Utter devastation! The saddest part is, we could not do anything to stop their onslaught. We watch in horror and are overwhelmed with grief. These calamities threaten and devastate us.

Equally devastating are the calamities that inundate our daily lives: marital infidelity; broken relationships; dysfunctional families; financial difficulties; depression, cancer or other life-threatening illnesses… name it! There seems to be an unbroken string of tragedies that destroys our lives… our relationship with ourselves, with others, and with our God. It is just overwhelming and sometimes we just feel like giving up. We feel like we had had enough of life. We who are in the ministry are not spared from all these. I must admit that I have thought of giving up on my ministry because of a lot of reasons and perhaps you did too.

God must have felt the same way when He decided to destroy humanity and all creation. He was in deep agony because of humanity’s wickedness. He grieves! Oh yes, God is in anguish! Imagine, only Noah was found righteous before Him. Who wouldn’t grieve? Who wouldn’t get mad? It seemed that God could no longer view his creation and say, “and it was good”, (“and it was excellent” in some translations). Creation defiled itself. And the only way to restore it is to destroy it.

Noah must have dreaded the time when finally God asked him to enter the ark that God commanded him to build. I believe Noah too was in deep distress of heart despite the fact that he and his family and all the animals they gathered were spared from annihilation. How can a man be jubilant about the sufferings of others? They were after all his people. It was after all his home. He couldn’t rejoice, he could only trust and obey God’s words.

God did not relent. Creation needs to be purged! Forty days and forty nights of continuous rains. I wonder what it was like for Noah and his family to live inside the ark hearing all the noises as the super typhoon or perhaps a series of category 5 hurricanes become stronger by the minute and the winds howl like a mad man. You hear the sound of rising flood waters – rushing and smashing the ark and finally lifting it to wander aimlessly in that vast ocean that used to be their home. The great flood destroyed everything. The first creation was no more.

But all is not lost – God preserved Noah and his family and all the animals with them! He saved them from utter destruction. He was with them through the storm. He was with them through the flood. God used the ark to protect them just like how He preserved and protected the life of baby Moses through the papyrus basket – floating by the river Nile and saved for a greater purpose.

Noah, his family, and the animals are a remnant of the goodness of the first creation. God looked beyond the destruction brought by the flood for He saw an obedient heart. Several times in the text it was mentioned that Noah obeyed everything that God had commanded him to do. An obedient heart satisfies the heart of God. God knew that saving Noah is not enough to restore creation. He saved his family as well. God is into the business of restoring not just a person but restoring relationships. Even the animals – two by two, male and female! God’s salvation is for all of creation. I can picture Him smiling as He looks at the floating ark with Noah and his family and all the animals in it, saying again, “and it was good”, “and it was excellent”.

The story of Noah teaches us that God’s love is furious! Think of how a hen protects her chicks from predators. She fights back! God’s love fights back. This is the most powerful demonstration of God’s love – though it destroys it preserves! He will crush anything that brings defilement to His creation.

Friends, I also believe that the Lord is saying the same way to all of us today. There are a lot of things going on in our lives that we feel so burdened and stressed as if it is the end of the world. As church ministers, we are so overwhelmed with the tasks at hand and at the same time we have families to attend to; bills to pay; and as students, books to read and papers to finish. But in the midst of all these, we know that His grace is sufficient for us and He will come and save us!

His love makes us resilient just like Noah in the midst of the flood. The ark was so tiny compared to the great flood – but the good news is, the ark floated! It did not sink! And just like the ark that floated and saved Noah, God’s love is the buoyancy of our hope. There is hope in the midst of despair. There is restoration in the midst of loss. There is love in the midst of hatred. There is wholeness in brokenness. There is forgiveness… there is mercy… there is grace.

Several months ago, we have heard of another school shooting in the state of Washington. Jaylen Fryberg, a highschool student, shot his friends – the people he loved, before shooting himself. One of the teenagers that he shot is Nate Hatch, his cousin. Nate survived thankfully and posted a powerful message for Jaylen on his twitter account that touched my heart. He said, “I love you and I forgive you Jaylen. Rest in peace!” That’s the love of God right there! Love floats in chaos. Grace sails with crisis.

God’s love forgives even though it hurts Him. His love saves even though it meant His death on the cross. His resurrection is for our restoration!

–  I preached this sermon in one of our preaching classes at United Theological Seminary.  Text is Genesis 7:1-18

Posted in Uncategorized

Mabuhay! Hello world!

“If a picture paints a thousand words” (If by Bread), then my printed thoughts could paint a whole nIMG_4847ew world. I am not new to blogging but I laid it to rest several years ago.   I just thought maybe today is the day to resurrect that passion in writing.  I hope it would unleash the writer in me – once again.