Sharing one another`s burdens
delivered July 1,2007
The Call to Share one another`s burdens

Text: Galatians 2:6,7,10

Bear one another`s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ...whatever a man sows, that he will also reap...and let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we don`t lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do goód to all men, and especially to those who are of the same household of faith.

Introduction:

Thank you very much for the invitation and the privilege to be with you, at this time, when you are celebrating the 21 years of partnership with the Development Ministry to the Islands. On behalf of the DMI personnels, the parents and the local community of Hingotanan, and on behalf of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines of which mission work you also have been supporting , I would like to extend their greetings and deep gratitude.

It was 21 years ago when I first came to Europe, to your country, Germany. And this time I was very much aware of the classification done for our nations. That you here in Europe belonged to the First World and that my country and my home people belonged to the Third World.

Of course, I could see the differences in our two worlds. But my visit also changed and challenged that classification. I realized that we live in one world, as one people with common hopes and dreams. My exposure to your churches told me that we share one faith, that we can sing some songs together and that we can read the same Bible. That we are people with common joy,goals, pain and problems. We are people who can laugh and cry, people who can mourn  and celebrate. We are people in need of each other, that we can enrich each other, and there is no man-made classification of standards of living which can change the reality of our common shared humanity.

2. We are one people in God`s own created world. And it is because of this shared humanity in God`s creation that we can reach out others in the spirit of Christ. Our identity as people created in the image of God enables us to fulfill our role of sharing each other`s burdens which St. Paul in the book of Galatians admonishes us, " Bear each one`s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ".

In 1985 I came to Germany with some students from Asia in relation to the program of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. It was part of the winter program of the Bossey Ecumenical Institute to expose students to the life of the Christian church in Germany. That time I brought along with me the album of photos of the rehabilitation program for Hingotanan island, after the worst typhoon Bising, which killed a number of people and destroyed the local people`s means of livelihood.
I showed the photos to Erna, who that time was the chairman of the church council in Bierstadt. She asked to borrow some of the photos. And then I was invited to come to Bierstadst Church and I saw some of these photos at the Bulletin Board of the your church here, and an offertory for the rehabilitation program in Hingotanan island was done during that worship service.

From that time on, this church has been supporting the program which moved from being a rehabilitation project to a project work for the children in the fishing islands. At present. DMI is found in two fishing islands in Maomaowan and  Hingotanan serving 101 children and opening the centers` recreational facilities to all the chidren in these fishing islands.

The natural catastrophe  that hit my home island and the work of rehabilitation was an example of sharing one another`s burdens. Bierstadt Church as a local congregation in this part of the world was part of that act of sharing, not out of your sense of power because you have money, but out of the fact of your identity as people created in God`s image with the sense of responsibility for others although these are people whom you have not seen in person. My home people are people who are part of our one common world.

Later, a number of you made a particular visit to this small island and had your personal experiences. One among you kept on coming back to that island and tried to live like the local people. And the local people said,
"Oh, she is just like us".

3. Jesus as model of giving and sharing.

Jesus is our model of the act of giving and sharing. In the life and ministry of Jesus this role was exemplied. Jesus fed the hungry, made the blind see, freed the prisoners, and announced the coming of the Lord`s Day. Jesus brings abundant life for all. Jesus lives, dies and resurrects so that we may have life.

The text says, " Bear one another`s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.." It is in giving ourselves for others,in our act of sharing each other`s burdens that we can live out the life that Jesus has shown for us. The act of sharing one another`s burdens becomes a sign in itself that we belong to Christ. Bearing each other`s burdens is a privilege and responsibility for those whom we live with, those who live near us--- our family, friends and colleagues and neighbors but also those who live far away, even those whom we have never seen face to face, saved only by our common knowledge that these are people who live in our one world, in God`s own created world.

In the sharing of each other`s burdens the needs are met, and there in the act of sharing, God who is looked at as the common provider is taken as one who gives out blessings. God`s rich blessings are experienced, confirmed and celebrated by the eyes of faith, and those who experience these, call these as God`s act of wonders or miracles.

Your act of sharing is sometimes read by my home people as Gods miracle."How could it be that people we don`t know care about us, " they ask. To them you are also God`s instrument of God´s grace, of God`s act of wonders or of God`s miracles.

4. Let us take up the last part of the text. "..and let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we don`t lose heart. so then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

What many Christians in the world discover which is true until now, is that the act of giving is a kind of sowing which cannot be empty at all. When something is sown, it is also possible to reap or harvest something.
What is sown has a way of growing as a blessing for others and a blessing for one who does the sowing.

Twenty one years of partnership with the local people in Hingotanan Island. What could have been reaped out of this period? We don`t know. After 21 years, there are already number of graduates of DMI who have formed their families, others are pursuing a further education outside the island, others are occupying a position in the island, others are still a part of their own families in the island, living like the ordinary citizens in the island.

What is a way of measuring what DMI has done? I don`t know. What I can only say is that these were children who each day were trained to take a bath before going to school, trained to cut their nails, trained to wear shoes and sandals to refrain their tummies to be infested by worms, trained to clean their hair from lice, children who were trained to come to the center with clean uniform and to play, sing, dance and read and write, to hear stories from the Bible and about Jesus. The principal of the Elementary School in the island said that they like the children from DMI because it is among these children they find those who excel in the normal elementary school and up to high school.

How can we measure DMI? We don`t really know. We only know that when something is planted, it is possible to harvest something. We only know that there are parents who are still very interested to send their children to DMI centers. We only know that my home people know that there is a country named Germany, far away from them, and a local church of Bierstadt that supports the program for their children. They know that they only are not a tiny island in the Philippines but they are also a part of the bigger world of God.

How can we measure your partnership of DMI within 21 years as a congregation? I don`t know. It is only you who can answer. When we give something, it comes back to us in a different form of blessing, only our eyes of faith are able to identify what these blessings are. For others, the blessing comes as joy. The joy in giving is sometimes experienced as a form of blessing in the heart.

5. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Let us not grow weary in doing good. It is a privilege and responsibility. It is a mark of having known Jesus Christ as model of a life of sharing and giving.

In my period of stay in Denmark, I came to know a woman from another country who became a good friend. She was very active in the local church. But one day she got divorced and that changed her into a different person. She became alcoholic with some days, only wanting to drink without eating. When my family and I moved to Christiansfeld, two and a half hours drive from Copenhagen, we would contact each other on the phone. She would ask when are you going to visit me. I said, I should visit you one day. But I could not really make it. I was very busy. Then one day I received a phone call, informing me that my friend died. I was very sad and told myself I should have really visited her and I should have helped her seriously so she could have received the necessary help. But she was gone. And this text became much a challenge to me, especially that she was a woman of the same household of faith.

This text is not discriminatory at all, calling us to take care those in the fellowship of the church, those in the same household of faith because in life of Jesus we are called to reach out all those irrespective of their religion and culture, but this particular text today, tells us also to take care of our very own people inside our circle of fellowship. It is not only the pastor`s role to take care of the members.

Let us do good to all those, when we have the opportunity to do so. The opportunity to be able to bear one another`s burdens may not be there all the time. We don`t know how many days, how many months, how many years we have. Only God knows. And this call of doing good is an urgent call for now, without waiting for many tomorrows.

Conclusion:

In the spirit of Christ, let us live a life committed to the call of giving and sharing, a life commiteed to respond to that call with love. In responding, we are made instruments of God`s act of grace and wonder. The privilege and responsibility of sharing and bearing each other`s burdens is a Christian vocation, a natural part of what and who we are as people with the identity rooted in the ministry of Jesus as Lord and Saviour. It is also a vocation rooted in the understanding that we are people created in the image of God in his one created world.

Let us celebrate the continuing signs of God`s love, mercy and wonders among us, outside us, near us and far away.

May God bless you and keep you.

sermon delivered by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen
to the congregation of Bierstadt Church in Wiesbaden in Germany, marking the 21 years of partnership with the Development Ministry to the Islands in the Philippines. This sermon was translated  to the German language by ARAMI. (July 1, 2007)
A pose with the children with the leaders of the program, the church pastor and some members of the Church Council of Bierstadt, for a journalist in a German newspaper

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20.09 | 13:16

I think I should also spend time writing poems in Danish. For quite a period of time, I have only concentrated on writing poems in English.

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08.03 | 09:55

Kære Elizabeth - du rørte mig med din tekst om at overleve gennem kunsten. Jeg kender det selv som en delvis fremmed med udenlandsk opvækst. Vi ses i Simonpete

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07.01 | 14:51

Fantastisk smuk hjemmeside.

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14.02 | 23:41

Super flort hjemmeside
jeg er hel vil ned dine hjemmeside :)

jeg har også selv en men det kun med tegninger :)
kig forbi og huske og skriv i GB lige som jeg gør nu :)

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