When people ask you who you consider to be the best minister or preacher you have met so far, you start thinking. There are so many – Ka Lapid, Ka Bening, Ka Ramos, Ka Macaspac, Ka Doval, Ka Ben, Ka Glicerio (the father of JS, it’s a wonder how they can share the same genes and be so different); oh, there were so many. They all shared one thing in common though – They knew how to preach and reach out into your hearts.
But there is one minister who also never fails to escape me. He was one of a kind. Not in the sense that you would cry tears of joy during our Pagsamba. In fact it was the other way around – he knew how to make you laugh with all his examples during the lesson period in our Pagsamba. There was never one dull moment – from the opening to the end he was more like a stand-up comedian if I may say so.
In those days ministers had a very strong voice (many locales particularly in the provinces didn’t have sound systems yet) so there were very few soft-spoken ministers. So when you talked to them in a regular conversation you’d notice the harshness of their voices. As time slowly caught up and the sound system came into play, they all however still used their booming voices to preach – in effect you’d notice no one sleeping beside you (how can you sleep with that booming voice preaching in the pulpit). When you were seated in the first and second row, oh oh, be prepared. Also there were no PG or Preachers Guide when ministers conducted their sermon – only the leksyon or outline so it was natural for our ministers to stray from their leksyon and come back when noticing it. But I can say with all honesty the lessons then were much more delivered with heart and compassion. You could easily identify a “bad, good, best” preacher from the way the sermon was delivered. Unlike today, ministers when they preach seem to be “cloned”. I guess its because of new restrictions on how a lesson is to be preached. In our days ministers had their way on how sermons are to be delivered – they could instill personal experiences during the pagsamba, tell stories relative to the lesson, etc. as long as the point is delivered. In short, sarap ang pagsamba noon, para kang nanonood ng sine, nakikinig ng kwento, kinasasabikan. Masarap ang pagsamba.
Going back to my article (please forgive me, seniors are like that, they tend to stray). As I said earlier there is one minister I never can forget and he was different from the lot – he knew how to make you laugh. My apologies to his son – a minister too – Armando Julio Jr. I’m talking about his father here the great Ka Julio. It was he who originally phrased “ang pinakapaboritong talata ng mga kapatid, and huling talata” It was he who tagged co-ministers with LP or 45 (before the advent of CDs, all the favorite hit songs were sold in records – the LP or Long Playing record consisting of one album of a singer or the 45 record where only a single song would be playing), the LP would play for around 30 to 45 minutes and the 45 for around three minutes). How would he preach? I’ll give you an example. During one of our pagsambas when the lesson was on pagmamahalang magkakapatid he would start:
“Mga kapatid, tulad ng binanggit ng biblia mahalaga ang pagmamahalang sa loob ng Iglesia. Kailangan matuto tayong magpatawad kung kailangan. Noon ako ay nadestino sa —–mayroon akong inayos na isang problema sa magkapitbahay na nagkataon parehong kapatid. Sa probinsya ito nangyari. Nagkataon nawala ang isang kalabaw at pinagbibintangan ng kapatid ay ang kapit bahay nyang kapatid rin. Natural bilang destinado sa lugar pinagharap ko silang dalawa upang ayusin ang problema. Pinakinggan ko ang parehong panig at iisa ang kanilang paninindigan – ang isa ay naniniwalang ninakaw ang kalabaw niya ng kapitbahay niya. Yon isa ay sinasabing hindi siya ang nagnakaw.
Matapos mapakinggan ko ang panig nilang pareho sinabihan ko sila kung nakahanda silang magpatawaran sa isat isa upang manatili ang pagmamahalan tinuturo ni Cristo sa atin. Pareho silang sumagot ng “Opo”. Kung gayon sabi ko mananalangin tayo. Ang unang mananalangin ikaw Ka Jose at susundan mo Ka Manuel. Ako ang magtatapos ng panalangin. Nagsimula ang panalangin nila:
Ka Jose – Ama, narito kaming magkapatid upang ilapit sa iyo ang naging suliranin namin. Nakahanda kaming sumunod sa yo at magpaayos upang manatili ang pagmamahalang magkakapatid .. (mejo tumigil ng ilan saglit, tapos) ngunit alam mo Ama na siya ang nagnakaw ng kalabaw ko. Sagot agad si ka Manuel – Ama, huwag kang maniwala jan, sinungaling yan!
So I’m sure you know what happened next inside the chapel – laughing that lasted almost 10 minutes. Nawala ang solemnidad but who cares everyone enjoyed listening to the sermon delivered the way only Ka Julio could.
Last I heard is Ka Julio is now retired. Saludo po ako sa inyo. Kasama po kayo sa naghubog rin sa akin sa pagiging tapat na Iglesia ni Cristo na matutong ngumiti sa gitna ng kahirapan at paguusig.
NEXT – “Double the Serial Number”, is it really possible, are the records accurate?