‘What Do You Hear When God Speaks?’

Post a Comment » Written on June 26th, 2008     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

GREEN LAKE, WI (June 26, 2008) – “Just say the word!”

That was the charge of Pablo Anabalon to worshipers at tonight’s ordination and commissioning service that concluded the 123rd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

PabloAnabalon is pastor of Iglesia del Pacto Evangelico in Eagle Rock, California. He drew from the gospel account of the centurion who pleaded for Jesus to heal his servant. “Just say the word, and the servant will be healed,” the centurion declared.

Anabalon said Christians can change the world as they first ask God to speak, reflect on Jesus through their experiences, read scripture in community, share each other’s pains, and spread the gospel without imposing it.

“Our invitation is for God to just say the word,” he said. “What do you hear when you invite God to speak to you? Do you hear his promises? Do you hear his plan for you?

Anabalon said speaking the word is increasingly difficult in a world fascinated by technology and demanding relevance.

The centurion provides an example for Christians, Anabalon said. “He was generous, he was humble, he was courageous.” Just as important, the pastor added, “He had to overcome prejudices not to ask for himself, but for his servant.”

stolesAnabalon noted that the centurion reflected on his experience as a leader to understand what it meant for Jesus to have authority. As the church reflects on its communal experience and the scriptures, it also will grow in its understanding of God.

“We have the great privilege of seeing the scriptures through the eyes of the whole community,” Anabalon said.

As people reflect together, they develop a common experience that enables them to share each other’s pain. “I think the real trademark of the unity of the body of church is that when I am hurting, when I am in pain, you are in pain.”

He said, for example, that Latinos are in pain over the issue of immigration. “We do need you also to be in pain with us.”

He added that Latinos have no monopoly on pain—Latinos also must share the pain of others. Rural, urban, large and small churches all have pain they are experiencing and are trying to heal in their communities. All must share the pain of one another.

groupAnabalon suggested to those in attendance that if some decided to visit the Annual Meeting to help them determine whether to join the denomination, “You better have a very, very, very big heart—because you will be carrying the big burden of all our pain together!”

Anabalon added that the centurion was egalitarian and did not impose his power on the Jews and others in the region. As a result, the people in the region respected him.

In the same way, he added, we should not impose our view on others, including the rest of the denomination. “That again is a mark of freedom we enjoy in the Covenant family.”

Anabalon concluded by noting that Jesus told the centurion to go and that the servant would be healed just as the centurion believed.

“We may not have much power. We may not be that many. We may not have too many resources, but we have the most important asset,” Anabalon declared. “We have his call, and his word, and in his will it will be done as we believe it would be done.”

Following Anabalon’s sermon, the gathering celebrated the commissioning and ordination of men and women who represented the ethnic, gender, and geographical diversity of the denomination.

David Kersten, executive minister of the Department of the Ordered Ministry, told the gathering that just as the people up front were taking vows to serve Christ, “Those vows are for all of us in the assembly tonight.” He called on everyone to remember their baptismal covenant to live among and serve God’s people.

Kersten said the evening was historic. For the first time, long-term missionaries were consecrated to missionary service. The change represents a more appropriate recognition of their service. It also means they will not have to renew licensure annually, which has been required if they did not hold other credentials.

He also noted that the service was the last for Glenn Palmberg to participate in as president.

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