CEC Estonia is pleased to report that on the last weekend of the Church year we were privileged to be visited by his eminence, Bishop Elmer Belmonte together with his wife Citadel who served our two parish communities, St Stephens, Tallinn and St Barnabas, Pärnu. On Saturday Bishop Elmer presented a day-long seminar in three sessions and on Sunday both guests served men and women in separate groups in a typical home fellowship setting, followed by a confirmation Mass in the afternoon.
Here is an overview of Bishop Elmer Belmonte´s seminar; As humans we perceive our existence from within our five senses. As individuals we understand that our humanity is linked to something greater than ourselves. The Word of God best enables us to understand life from God´s point of view. Therefore our life is essentially a spiritual journey on this earth. In the world around us there is tremendous denial of the life emanating from beyond the realm of our five senses. There is strong denial of sin in this world which skews the essence of the Christian message and the life which proceeds from the heart of Jesus Christ. But Jesus is not a way-He is the Way. Jesus does not preach some form of truth-He is truth itself. Jesus does not recommend to us a lifestyle of our choosing-He is Life itself. Courage in the absence of all that surrounds us is the confirmation that we need to do whatever it is that needs to be done at any given time. Here then lives Christ within us who overcame all fear so that we might instead be filled with courage and hope.
Israel as a nation was attacked both internally and externally. We witness this through reading the events written in the Bible. The devil has come to seek, to kill and to destroy, as is recorded in the Gospel of St John. We see this change taking place very clearly through architecture; in Christian history we learn that churches were at one time the tallest buildings known to man. Then came buildings related to law, followed by financial institutions and today we see the supremacy of technology in the likes of Silicon Valley.
Jesus set out to teach a small group of twelve disciples. His aim was to clearly focus on a small group of followers who in turn would spread his message far and wide. He did not begin with large groups, although we read of large gatherings of listeners. Still, his focus was always with his core group of disciples. This is a pattern which describes the missionary field and the way of sowing the word of God in the heart of the world. We are all called to hear the heartbeat of Jesus, just as it was heard by his beloved disciple John who “rested on the bosom of the Lord”. It is our calling to hear the heartbeat of God in an increasingly restless world were followers of Jesus can make a difference in people´s lives.
On Sunday men and women gathered separately and informally, to hear some thoughts which God had placed in the heart of our guests. Citadel Belmonte spoke about the need to depend on the Lord and his provision at all times. Highlighted by examples of her life through marriage, leaving one country for another and raising five children in the process can stretch one´s abilities at the best of times, but the Lord´s goodness and mercy always awaits us in life´s most unexpected moments. Bishop Elmer spoke of the role of male as head of the family, the need to grow a sense responsibility towards ourselves and our families, and the challenges of building and strengthening the church community to which we belong. These are challenges which we all face as Christians, and our decisions and future desires for the Kingdom of God are the questions which must remain closest to our hearts as a people set apart for the work of His Kingdom.
Our Sunday Mass was a particularly important occasion this weekend as it was first and foremost a Confirmation Mass where five new members were able to make their vows and pledge to remain faithful in their commitment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. For the Church in Estonia this was indeed a glorious occasion and especially so for Aet Mariliise, Joosep Mattis and Johannes Eriste, Alvar Arrak and Juhan Palm-Peipman.
Many thanks once again to Bishop Elmer Belmonte for making time to visit us!