08-15-2023 - DAY 1 | CEC Territory of Asia Clergy Retreat
Today indeed is the day that the Lord has carefully crafted. We begin this special week with Day 1 of the CEC Asia Clergy Conference. Patriarch Craig Bates began the session with a teaching from Romans 7 and 8. Patriarch reminded the Clergy that it is Jesus Christ that we preach. Jesus is the Gospel and the Good News and therefore, our focus in our respective ministries is to share Jesus to the people.
Patriarch then went on to remind us that in Romans 7, St. Paul is reminding the Church of God’s special relationship to His people and that His commandments are there to teach us how to live in that relationship. However, we still sin, as everybody does, but we are reminded that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, meaning those who desire to encounter Him. We will not be able to deliver ourselves from sin but Jesus, that is why a close and intimate relationship with Him is important. A relationship with Jesus lets us experience His love which casts away all sin. A relationship with Jesus frees us from fear of condemnation.
Patriarch also shared that it is God who chooses us, and He does that not by our qualifications but because He loves us. This love allows us to know Him, and knowing Him is true theology. Theology is not about studying God as an object, or idea, but as a person, hence good theology stems from our relationship and encounter with the Lord.
Day 1 was recap with a memorial mass for those Clergy who passed away during the Pandemic. Some family members are present, in particular the family of Abp. Dick Alcaraz.
In His homily, Patriarch shared that the greatest act of mercy is when we show compassion to those who cannot repay us. Therefore, one of the greatest act of mercy is when we bury the dead, because they are unable to repay us.
For Christians, death is and when we are born again. It is where Jesus is present with us. Therefore, they are not really dead but are one with Jesus. Grieving for those we love who passed away is a sign that we love them deeply.
Patriarchy also reminded during Peace, that the peace is a time of ministry - Shalom. A reminder we give to each other that God is with us. It is placed in the liturgy because some people may be hurting or struggling, and it is a time we let them know God is with them.
Everyone then had a time of fellowship with the evening dinner. Personally, I am so thankful humbled to see how our communion is thriving with a mix of young and experienced clergy despite the challenges of recent years. Patriarch declared that this is not a start of revival, because we are already in the midst of it.
Praise and glory be to our Almighty God and Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, who causes all things to work together for good for those who are in Christ Jesus our Lord! Watch out for Day 2 updates!
Writer: Dcn. Ritche Jandayan