Message during the Groundbreaking
of the Land of the Cathedral of the King
November 12, 2016
Patriarch Craig Bates
When I was a young man, coming from the seminary, I realized that as I took over this small church, in New England, outside of Boston in United States, that I did not know what I was doing. I had no idea. I had a lot of theological education, but I have never pastored a church. I went to the chapel, and I knelt down and I prayed this prayer. I prayed this prayer many times. I prayed this when I became a Patriarch. The prayer goes, “Lord, I do not know what I am doing. Lord, You know that I don’t know what I am doing. In a few days, these people are going to find out that I don’t know what I am doing, so I need Your help. What do I do?”
The Lord turned me to two Scriptures. The first was in Psalm 127, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor will labor in vain.” I said to myself that I did not want to labor in vain and I want to be about what the Lord is doing. Then, He turned to Jesus, His words. Right after Peter declared that Jesus was the Son of God, the Christ, Jesus said to him, “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against My church.”
This morning, we come to renew that again. The Cathedral of the King is being built by the King and the gates of hell will not prevail against this Church. Any battle we face is the Lord’s battle. He is the One who is going to fight for us.
We are standing on holy ground. There is an old chorus that we sing, “We are standing on holy ground and I know that there are angels all around. Let us praise Jesus now for we are standing on holy ground.” This is a holy place and the angels are around us. Not only the angels, but also the saints that have gone before us thirty years ago that believed that there is going to be a cathedral. They are in heaven watching down. They are praying for us, praying for the success, and for sure they are filled with joy. The angels are singing now, looking and seeing what we are doing now.
I want to thank all of you because you stood and you persevered on this long, long journey. Not quite forty years in the wilderness, but close to it. Now, you are entering the promise that God has given to you.
I want to thank Bishop Ariel, who for the last three years lost the building, and in crisis, he led us through that by listening to the Lord. He led us to another place and then, he, along with the Bishop’s Council, led us to buy this land. He deserves to be thank as our Pastor and as our Shepherd. He shepherd us well in a very difficult and hard time.
I also would like to thank the men – the Deacons, who stood by Bishop Ariel and labored hard; and for the Priests who kept us in prayer and continued to administer the Sacraments to us. Our thanks and gratitude to them for they have been good shepherds of the sheep.
What do we do now? We’ve got to continue to build the building. We are to continue to believe for the resources. The time of giving hasn’t ended yet. The time of planting seed hasn’t ended yet. We still need to plant seed. We still need to believe. We’ve got to hold on to Scriptures that says, “Don’t grow weary in doing good for in due season you will reap a harvest if you don’t give up.” You just keep planting and planting the seed.
I am excited for the day. It is already inside me. I have been excited for this day. I have been awaiting for this moment and everything that I have come for in the Philippines. It is all good. I am already looking forward to the day of coming back and knocking my crozier on those doors and have those doors open. It is going to happen. We are going to see it. We are going to do it, and our children are going to have a place.
The first time that I came here a couple of years ago, I said that it is all about the children. Hang in, men of God. Hang in, women of God. This isn’t for us, but for the children. We are building them a home. We are building them a place where they can grow up in the knowledge of the Lord. We are building a place where they can get married and baptize their children. We are building a place for our family, a spiritual home. We are building a place where they can learn about Jesus and be close to Jesus all the days of their lives. That they would grow up being obedient to the Lord and never facing rebellion.
This is what we are building here. This is hard work, but we can labor knowing that God’s strength is in us. God is with us. God is in this place right now! This is His home, and the promise is that He will never leave us nor will He forsake us.
Rejoice and be glad! Continue to pray. Continue to give. Continue to plant seed. Continue to support your Bishop and stand with him. It is a hard thing to raise money and build a Church. It takes a toll. I expected Bishop Ariel to have all grey hair when I came back. It is a hard labor. There are a lot of decisions to be made. He needs your counsel. He needs your wisdom. He needs the support of all the clergy. He can’t do it all alone. No man can do it alone.
People of God, pray for your leaders and those who have authority over you. Support them. Encourage them. Build them up. In a couple of years, we will the Church building. We will walk on its doors. It will be God’s house and we can say, “This is my Church!”