Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg

Feb 24, 2019  |  Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Greta Thunberg

Grace to you

The Prophet Isaiah was right when he declared: “and a little child shall lead them”. [Isa. 11:6] Greta Thunberg the 16 year old from Sweden is leading the world at the moment. We either listen to her and live, or we don’t listen to her and we die. Her talks are short and simple a bit like Jesus – stating the obvious that most are too afraid to mention – especially those in power. Here is part of her latest speech to the European Union. She brilliantly flips the accusation of who really are the naïve, the irresponsible and who needs to do their homework:

“Tens of thousands of children are school striking for the climate on the streets of Brussels. Hundreds of thousands are doing the same all over the world. We are school-striking because we have done our homework. People always tell us that they are so hopeful – they are hopeful that the young people are going to save the world, but we are not. There is simply not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge because by the year 2020 we need to have bended the emissions curve steep downwards – that is next year.

We know that most politicians don’t want to talk to us – good – we don’t want to talk to them either. We want them to talk to the scientists instead. Listen to them, because we are just repeating what they are saying and have been saying for decades. We want you to follow the Paris agreement and the IPCC report. We don’t have any other manifesto or demands – unite behind the science – that is our demand.

When many politicians talk of the school strike for the climate – they talk about almost anything except the climate crisis. Many people are trying to make the school strikes a question of whether we are promoting truancy or whether we should go back to school or not. They make up all sorts of conspiracies and call us puppets who cannot think for ourselves. They are desperate to try and remove the focus from climate crisis and change the subject. They don’t want to talk about it because they know that they cannot win this fight, because they know they haven’t done their homework, but we have.

Once you have done your homework you realise that we need new politics. We need new economics where everything is based on a rapidly declining and extremely limited remaining carbon budget. But that is not enough. We need a whole new way of thinking. The political system that you have created is all about competition. You cheat when you can because all that matters is to win, to get power. That must come to an end. We must stop competing with each other. We need to co-operate together and to share the resources of the planet in a fair way. We need to start living within the planetary boundaries and focus on equity and take a few steps back for the sake of all living species. We need to protect the biosphere, air, the oceans, soil, and the forests.

This may sound very naïve, but if you have done your homework then you know that we don’t have any other choice. We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change because if we fail to do so all our achievements and progress have been for nothing, and all that will remain of our political leaders’ legacy will be the greatest failure of human history and they will be remembered as the greatest villains of all time because they have chosen not to listen and not to act.

This does not have to be. There is still time. According to the IPCC report we are about 11 years away from where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control. To avoid that, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place within this coming decade, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50% by the year 2030, and please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity which is absolutely necessary for the Paris Agreement to work on a global scale. Nor do they include tipping points or feedback loops like extremely powerful methane gas released from the thawing arctic permafrost. They do however, include negative emissions techniques of a huge planetary scale that is yet to be invented and many scientists fear will never be ready in time and will anyway be impossible to deliver at the scale assumed.

We have been told that the EU intends to improve its emissions reduction target. In the new target the EU is proposing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 45% below 1990’s level by 2030. Some people say that is good or that is ambitious but this new target is still not enough to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This target is not sufficient to protect the future for children growing up today. If the EU is going to make its fair contribution to stay within the carbon budget for the 2 degree limit then it needs a minimum of 80% reduction by 2030 and that includes aviation and shipping, so around twice as ambitious as the current proposal.

The actions required are beyond manifestos or any party politics. Once again they sweep their mess under the carpet for our generation to clean up and solve. Some people say we are fighting for our future, but that is not true, we are not fighting for our future – we are fighting for everyone’s future. And if you think that we should be in school instead then we suggest that you take our place in the streets striking from your work or better yet, join us so we can speed up the process.

And I am sorry but saying that everything will be alright and continue doing nothing at all is just not hopeful to us, in fact it is the opposite of hope and yet this is exactly what you keep doing. You can’t just sit around and wait for hope to come, then you are acting like spoiled irresponsible children. You don’t understand that hope is something you have to earn and if you still say we are wasting valuable lesson time then let me remind you that our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction. And since our time is running out we have decided to take action. We have started to clean up your mess and we will not stop until we are done.”

Grace, Alan

Psalms that awaken the heart

Psalms that awaken the heart

Feb 17, 2019  |  Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Psalms that awaken the heart

Grace to you

Today we are going to reflect on Psalm 1. It is therefore as good a time as any to make a commitment to read the whole Psalter – starting today with one psalm a day for the next 150 days.

To accompany us on the journey I can’t recommend highly enough Nan C. Merrill’s book: Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness. She has translated all 150 psalms with poetic and theological brilliance. She helps us see the word through her feminist and non-violent lens. Here is the preface to her book:

“Who among us has not yearned TO KNOW the Unknowable? For most, these moments are fleeting glimpses that may last a lifetime; in some, a Fire is kindled and life becomes a quest to live in Holy Surrender; and though fewer in number, saints dwell among us who know the Beloved, who aspire simply to co-create in harmony with the One, who is Love and Light and Power. To cherish the Beloved as you are cherished is to live in a mutual bonding that calls for action.

The Psalms have ever been a response to these deep yearnings: cries of the soul … songs of surrender … paeans of praise. The Psalms of the Hebrew Scripture often reflect a patriarchal society based on fear and guilt that projects evil and sin onto outer enemies. Psalms for Praying reflects the reciprocity of Divine Love that opens the heart to forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing. Affirming the life-giving |fruits of love and acknowledging the isolation and loneliness of those separated from Love, may serve to awaken the heart to move toward wholeness and holiness.

Aspiring to live in a spirit of cooperation, co-creation, and companionship with the Beloved, rather than invoking a spirit of competition with God, other individuals and nations – so much a part of the Hebrew Scripture Psalms – seems clearly a more loving movement toward engendering peace, harmony, and healing in our wounded world.

Yet, let it be understood that Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness is in no way meant to replace the well-loved, still meaningful, and historically important Psalms of the Hebrew Scripture. May it stand as a companion, a dialogue, if you will, of one age speaking with a later age. May it serve as an invitation to listen to the Voice of Silence that speaks within your own soul.”

Psalm 1

Blessed are those
who walk hand in hand
with goodness,
who stand beside virtue,
who sit in the seat of truth;
For their delight is in the Spirit of Love
,and in Love’s heart they dwell
day and night.
They are like trees planted by
streams of water,
that yield fruit in due season,
and their leaves flourish;
And in all that they do, they give life. 

The unloving are not so;
they are like dandelions which
the wind blows away.
Turning from the Heart of Love
they will know suffering and pain.
They will be isolated from wisdom;
for Love knows the way of truth,
the way of ignorance will perish
as Love’s penetrating Light
breaks through hearts
filled with illusions:
forgiveness is the way.

Our on-going task

Our on-going task

Feb 3, 2019  |  Epiphany, Harvest Festival, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Our on-going task

Grace to you

What would you say to someone who sets fire to their own house? Oh and by the way, this someone says that they love their house and still would like to live in it for many years to come. You also need to know that they don’t admit to setting their house on fire. In fact, they deny it is on fire or are at least oblivious to the fact that it is on fire. And the one last thing you need to know about them is that they think of themselves as smart – very smart! So, what do you say to them?

Now everything we have said to them is what we need to hear ourselves. Because they are us.

Homo sapiens (which I learnt this week, translates from Latin to, “wise or smart human”) are supposed to be the smartest creatures on the planet, yet we stand out as the only creature hell-bent on mass suicide. We have set fire to our own house. I mean who sets fire to their own house? We can agree that “smart” doesn’t feature in the answer!

The biggest threat we face is our own way of life and one would imagine that we would therefore decide to change our way of life as a matter of urgency. But here is the thing, we are dependent on what is killing us for our survival. Yes you read that correctly. Basically, we cut the branch we are sitting on. It is a very high branch and falling will result in serious injury, if not death. So why don’t we stop cutting the branch? We don’t stop because we are all employed in some way or other in the lumber business. Yes we make a living by cutting the branch we are sitting on. We think if we stop cutting the branch that we will die – so we keep cutting with hope that we never gonna cut through the whole branch that is holding us. But no branch can be cut forever without breaking. It is on this foundation of foolishness that the world’s market economy is based: Growth, growth and more growth. Which means more and more consumption. Which means endless cutting. The market is so demanding that we even cut tomorrow’s branches, today.

Basically since the industrial revolution, but more specifically over the last 70 years we have been setting fire to our home. The last 4 years have been the hottest on record. Of course climate change is not new. It has always gone through changes but the difference is the speed at which it is changing. Change used to be so slow that most species could evolve and adapt in time. But not anymore – humans have pushed the fast forward button. In fact, according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate change, we have 12 years. We have 12 years to radically transform our economy, especially the amount of energy that we use and how we generate it, from coal, oil, and gas to solar and wind. As Ann-Levy Lyons puts it: We need to change “energy from hell to energy from heaven” if we are to prevent an irreversible spiral of destruction.

There is no cheap, easy and comfortable way out of the crisis we have caused but it can still be done. This must be our on-going task.

Grace,
Alan

Miracles bring life

Miracles bring life

Jan 20, 2019  |  Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Miracles bring life

Grace to you

This year began with a remarkable event. A miraculous event. A water-into-wine-event. An ocean-splitting-event in the same proportion as the one of long ago that enabled slaves to scamper into freedom on dry ground. I mean how else would you describe the gathering of 5 million women standing side-by-side covering a distance of 620 km? (Further than Johannesburg to Durban). According to one eyewitness: “There were so many women and there wasn’t even space for women to extend arms. If they had extended their arms, the length of the wall would have increased so much that women would be falling in the Arabian Sea.” This is what took place in India on the 2nd January as women stood in solidarity with two other women (Bindu Ammini and Kankadurga) who entered the Sabarimala Temple. They became the first two women to access the shrine after the country’s Supreme Court overturned a centuries-old ban on women aged 10 to 50 from entering the temple in September last year, ruling it to be discriminatory and arguing that women should be able to pray at the place of their choice.

A line of women stretching over 600 km must be the largest voluntary action in human history. Ironically it could only have happened spontaneously. Who would believe it possible to actually plan such an event? This is a good example of a miracle. A miracle by definition brings life – new life – open life – full life – abundant life. A miracle by definition is a surprise. Yet, even though miracles by nature surprise, they usually take a long time (a hidden amount of time) to be manufactured. Miracles need to be marinated over many nights. There are millions of micro-ingredients that go into the making of a miracle – most of which are unseen by the naked or untrained eye. These ingredients are held together within the plasma of grace. Ignorant of all the ingredients and their relationship with each other we are totally surprised at the result that stretches hundreds of km in front of us. A result we literally didn’t even know was in the making. A miracle we missed being made.

We missed the grace that sustained the dignity of women’s gender equality amidst thousands of years of patriarchy and how this grace was incarnated in the flesh of millions in myriads and myriads of ways. We missed the countless people who courageously, patiently and persistently worked to secure the ground-breaking constitutional court judgment in 2018. We missed the police who defended the constitution rather than their own prejudice. We missed the two who dared to live out their grace-nurtured and constitutionally-defined dignity by walking through the night to reach the 800-year-old mountain top temple in the face of angry mobs of men. We missed multitudes of these hidden and secretive moments of miraculous conception. But the result is impossible to miss.

The result simultaneously becomes an ingredient mixed into the plasma of grace to be used in another surprising show of new life we will call a miracle in the future – the time and place of which is a mystery to us. Remember it is not for us to worry about dates and times but rather to trust and obey in the meantime.

Keeping our eyes open to rejoice in the tiny ingredients we are able to see.

In grace,
Alan

Humility and Honesty

Humility and Honesty

Jan 21, 2018  |  Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Humility and Honesty

Grace and peace

Two essential ingredients necessary for continued learning are humility and honesty. Humility keeps the door open to learn more and honesty makes sure that, that which comes through the open door, is genuine and true. Humility is knowing that we don’t know everything. Honesty is knowing that not everything we know can possibly be 100% accurate. Humility is knowing that we don’t know what we don’t know. Honesty is knowing that what we know will need to be corrected and re-corrected.

Humble and honest people have a high sense of curiosity.

The opposite of a curious person is someone filled to the brim with assumptions about this and that and everything else. Making assumptions about other people make it less likely we will ever get to know them for who they are. Making assumptions about different cultures or countries does the same.

Some assumptions are very difficult to spot because they have been so deeply accepted by the dominant culture in which we live that few of us ever think of questioning them. They are the invisible building blocks of society. They are promoted and protected by the systems they embed – like religion and education, entertainment and law, etc. Like a computer virus these assumed values attach themselves to every file of our lives corrupting them without us sometimes knowing, until of course life becomes more and more sluggish and eventually stopping altogether.

Think of the assumptions (perpetuated through education and sports, etc.) in “their preference for competition over cooperation; for self-promotion over humility; for analytical over holistic thinking; for individual rather than collective success; for direct rather than indirect communication; for hierarchical rather than egalitarian conceptions of status. So in school we urge our children to strive to be better than their friends and we praise them publicly if they succeed, where many other societies would consider this to be extremely bad manners. We focus on our children directly and tell them exactly what we want them to know, where in many other societies adults expect children to observe their elders closely and follow their example voluntarily. We control and direct and measure our children’s learning in excruciating detail, where many other societies assume children will learn at their own pace and don’t feel it necessary or appropriate to control their everyday activities and choices. In other words, what we take for granted as a “normal” learning environment is not at all normal to millions of people around the world.” [An extract from www.schoolingtheworld.org]. 

One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was that he brought to the surface and challenged the hidden assumptions and values of his day. This too is our calling.

May we: Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk HUMBLY.
Alan

 

We are one

We are one

Jan 14, 2018  |  Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on We are one

Grace and peace to you

Last week by the rivers of baptism we heard how the heavens were “torn apart” enabling Jesus to hear the heavenly voice declare his belovedness. The long-thought-of divide between heaven and earth has been torn apart and the false dualism between heaven and earth forever exposed as a lie. Heaven and earth are one. Therefore, all of space is sacred. The earth is heavenly. The water and air are hallowed. The land – all the land – every land – is holy and to be treasured. Now our work is to live on earth as in heaven.

There are many people in the world who arrive at this conviction through different routes – using different languages to describe it and different rituals to honour it (or no rituals at all). That we arrive at the same place is to be celebrated and the route we took should not be cause for argument.

A beautiful example of this is Albert Einstein who from a different angle reaches the same unified conviction. As someone has suggested, this was Einstein’s other great equation, namely a formula for the survival of the living world and its people.

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He (sic) experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”

Other versions have Einstein state:

“This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 

How we come to this conviction is less important as what we do with it. When we accept, trust and live into the truth of our oneness with every living creature and all the universe, it is then that our fear diminishes and our compassion deepens – as is the case every time our sense of connection to something or someone grows. Sadly we live in a world where the narrative of separateness dominates all other narratives – so it is not easy to hold on to the deeper truth of our connected oneness. Therefore, “the striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion”.

This is where religious practice comes in. [Remembering that the word ‘religion’ comes from Latin and its most prevalent roots take us back to the Latin word “Re-Ligare” meaning to ‘bind’ or to ‘connect’.] Therefore religious practice is to result in binding, bridging and connecting us with the Divine, the creation, others and ourselves. In other words, religious practice is to affirm our connected oneness. It is to widen “our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty”. To the extent it does this, is to the extent it facilitates life within us and through us. When religious practice builds barriers rather than bridges it is no longer religious in the true sense of the word, and would be better if put aside.

Each Wednesday evening from 18h30 – 20h30 there is an opportunity to grow in our religious (bridging and connecting) practice. Please consider coming to practice.

Grace,
Alan

Baptised in grace

Baptised in grace

Jan 7, 2018  |  Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Baptised in grace

Grace and peace to you

When Jesus came up from the Jordan waters his identity was affirmed as Beloved Child from the Heavens. As we remember Jesus’ baptism so we re-affirm our own Baptismal Belovedness.

One of the reasons why we baptise infants (who obviously don’t have a clue about what is going on other than feeling cold water on their forehead) is that we announce for all the world to hear that this child is beloved. Beloved even before they understand they are beloved. Beloved before they have done anything to merit being beloved. Beloved before they believe this or that about God or Jesus. Beloved simply because the Heavenly Voice declares this to be so. It is called grace. Great grace! Grace is love that cannot be earned, achieved, manufactured or manipulated. It just is. Grace is the primary building block of the cosmos and the original essence of each one of us.

This great grace is for all. For the baptised and for those who have never been baptised. In other words Baptism does not manufacture grace or capture it, rather it celebrates and announces it for one and for all.

During a baptismal service we as a community commit to living life in such a way as to inform and remind the baptised among us of their beloved status. This understanding of Baptismal Belovedness is unsurprisingly confirmed to be at the heart of growing self-acceptance in others which psychologists would insist on as necessary for a person’s mature and healthy sense of self. As Jungian therapist, James Hollis writes:

“Jung has so eloquently written of this biblical admonition: Acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life. That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ—all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yea the very fiend himself—that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved—what then?” 

James HollisFinding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up

Remember you are beloved,
Alan


“What would happen to our lives, our world, if the parent could unconditionally affirm the child, saying in so many words: “You are precious to us; you will always have our love and support; you are here to be who you are; try never to hurt another, but never stop trying to become yourself as fully as you can; when you fall and fail, you are still loved by us and welcomed to us, but you are also here to leave us, and to go onward toward your own destiny without having to worry about pleasing us.”

James HollisFinding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up

Fear casts out love

Fear casts out love

Jan 11, 2015  |  Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Fear casts out love

Grace and Peace to you

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear;..” from 1 John 4:18. This insightful verse of Scripture warrants a lifetime of pondering.

If true, it allows us to make two further statements:

[1] Perfect fear casts out love.
[2] The opposite of love is not hate, but fear.

This then helps us to understand something of the loveless acts of terror that we witnessed in Paris this week.

Acts of terror are not rooted in a religion or a sacred text. They are not even rooted in hate. They rest in fear. Fear first! Only when a person or group of people feel fear-full will they be prepared to commit an act of terror. Feeling under threat justifies the need to “defend” ourselves, which is the second step towards terror. It is not long before “any means” is acceptable to defend ourselves, including pre-emptive measures which is step three and close to the final step which is to seek out a “blessing” for these measures from an accepted source of authority. This fourth step is where religion often comes into the picture. The aim is to find a sacred text that can be used to justify the decisions already made. This transforms (at least for those involved) hideous acts into holy deeds.

Fear is the motivating factor and religion or an ideology of sorts is the justifying factor. With these two factors in place terror is unleashed and the innocent casualties will be put down to the accepted arithmetic of war.

If we want to reduce terror in the world we must ask who is terrified and why, and seek to address the causes of that fear. We can start by refusing to live in fear ourselves as the Bible continually commands us to “Fear not!”

Gandhi knew this, he said: “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear.”

Grace, Alan


Prayerful Preparation

O God, who am I now?
Once, I was secure
in familiar territory
in my sense of belonging
unquestioning of the norms of my culture
the assumptions built into my language the values shared by my society.

But now you have called me out and away from home
and I do not know where you are leading.
I am empty, unsure, uncomfortable.
I have only a beckoning star to follow.

Journeying God,
pitch your tent with mine so that I may not become deterred by hardship, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions
toward a wisdom not based on books
toward a strength not bolstered by might
toward a God not confined to heaven
but scandalously earthed, poor, unrecognised…

Help me to find myself
as I walk in others’ shoes.

~ Kate Compston

Images:
Break one, a thousand will rise: Lucille Clerc
A call to arms: Francisco J. Olea

 
Faith & Finance

Faith & Finance

Feb 23, 2014  |  Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Faith & Finance

We read the Gospel as if we had no money,
and we spend our money as if we know nothing of the Gospel.

John Haughey – Virtue and Affluence: The Challenge of Wealth

Money is an emotionally-charged issue. Our feelings about money run deep. It is extremely difficult for many of us to speak openly and honestly about money. What we earn is often our best-kept secret (sometimes even from our spouse), assisted of course by the fact that many of us from a young age were taught that it is impolite to ever ask someone about their personal financial matters. Financial matters are deemed private. Yet, there are few other areas of our private lives that are as publicly influential.

This hesitancy to speak openly about money is equally prevalent among Christians as it is among any other group of people. This may not surprise us, but it should disturb us on at least two accounts.

First, it perpetuates the false belief that faith and finance have nothing to say to each other – as if they were meant to live in blissful independence of each other, seemingly replacing the old slogan: Politics and religion don’t mix.

Second, it differs remarkably from the testimony of Scripture and above all the example of Jesus, who it seems, couldn’t speak enough about money-matters. In fact, outside of Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God, he spoke more about money-matters than any other topic.

“In the Old Testament, the subject of the poor is the second most prominent theme. Idolatry is the first, and the two are often connected. In the New Testament, one out of every sixteen verses is about the poor! In the Gospels, the number is one out of every ten verses; in Luke’s Gospel one of every seven, and in the book of James one of every five” (Wallis 1994:149).

The fact that Scripture is saturated with references to money-matters and that Jesus speaks about issues of wealth and poverty constantly throughout his ministry makes money a central concern of Christian spirituality. By Christian spirituality, I simply mean “living with Jesus at the centre” (Nouwen 1988:5). To live with Jesus at the centre is more than a commitment to a particular kind of lifestyle, it is the acceptance of and trust in “another reality” (Willard 1988:67).

Another reality that “celebrates a divine reality that pervades every aspect of our existence, where the harmony intended for the universe can already begin to be experienced” (Wink 1998:13).

To live with Jesus at the centre means that we accept and trust that the world really is the way Jesus described it to be. It means that we adopt Jesus’ operating assumptions about the nature of the universe. This means that vulnerable love, humble service, sacrificial generosity, bold gentleness, deep truth-telling, open and inclusive community, measureless mercy, justice for all, especially for the least are the truest expressions of God’s character, the construction of the universe and the core image of the human person. Christian spirituality calls us to live into and out of this reality. And this is the reality that we are called to honour in the relationship we have with our money.

Sadly the Church has a history of only speaking about money when it needs money itself. This has often been combined with the motivation (manipulation!) that “giving to the church is equal to giving to God”. Giving to God involves giving to the least — as Jesus said, “what you do to the least of these you do to me”. So to the extent that the Church (like any other group, organisation etc.) is being good news for the poor is to the extent that our giving may be equated to giving to God.

Just as the Gospel invites, commands, calls and reminds us to be more loving, truthful, gentle, fair etc. so the Gospel invites, calls, commands and reminds us to be more generous. Generous in creative and thoughtful ways that aim to partner God in sharing good news with the poor (all the vulnerable of the world) by healing this world of its injustice.

Live generously, Alan

_______________________________________

Prayer-FULL Lent

You will further recall that at the Conference 2013 we focused on the theme: “TOGETHER a transforming discipleship movement,” and I am pleased with the reports of serious engagement of this theme around the connexion. This must be pleasing to the Lord. Resolution 2.36 on page 96 of the Yearbook 2014 further reads:

“Seeing that prayer is the heart of the life of discipleship, Conference resolves that Lent 2014 be set aside as a focused time of prayer for repentance which leads to discipleship and also about the social ills affecting our people at this time.”

My dear sisters and brothers, I urge you to take this request very seriously. I know that some local churches have already made some plans in this regard. This is not additional to your plans, but an integral part thereof. Please encourage all Methodist people to use this time for lament for ourselves; our communities and the whole of creation. Let us use the time to listen each other’s stories, asking God to open our hearts to each other’s pain, fears and hopes. May the God of Life help us all to be fully human – working TOGETHER against violence, hatred, abuse and lack of care for the vulnerable. We are a praying movement.

Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa: Ziphozihle D. Siwa

Use the Law. Save a Life.

Use the Law. Save a Life.

Feb 16, 2014  |  Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Use the Law. Save a Life.

The media coverage around the
killing of Reeva Steenkamp by Oscar Pistorius
is about to begin again –
just days after the first anniversary of her death.

 

In South Africa the HOME is the most dangerous place for a woman.

 

The trial of Oscar Pistorius for the killing of Reeva Steenkamp is soon to take over the airwaves. The court will have to decide whether it was murder or an accident.

It is very important to note however that apart from being celebrities, Reeva and Oscar’s story is not unique. Of course we were shocked at the killing but we should not have been surprised. Sadly their story is all too common in this country: A man legally buys a gun to protect himself and those he loves from a stranger/intruder; instead he uses his licensed gun to kill the person he loves.

In 1999, 34% of women murdered by their intimate partner were killed with a gun; in 2009 this figure dropped to 17%. At the same time, the percentage of women killed in other ways (e.g. strangled, stabbed or beaten) remained the same. The researchers at the Medical Research Council assert that the single most important intervention that contributed to halving the number of women shot and killed by their intimate partner was the implementation of the Firearms Control Act (2000).

The Firearms Control Act (2000) protects women from being threatened, injured or killed by a gun owned by their intimate partner. The law limits who can own what gun for which purpose. It excludes anyone who is not ‘fit and proper’.

The Firearms Control Act also allows the police to remove a gun from a legal gun owner if he is not ‘fit and proper’, for example if he:

• Points his gun to threaten or intimidate someone.
• Misuses his gun, for example, by shooting it negligently.
• Handles or shoots his gun while drunk or on drugs.
• Fails to store his gun in a safe.

For the police to take action, someone (the person being threatened or a family member, friend or neighbour) must make a written complaint at their nearest police station, detailing why the gun owner is a risk or how he has abused his gun. By law, the police are required to take action after receiving such a complaint.

The two additional charges laid against Pistorius for the negligent use of a firearm (shooting through the sunroof of a moving car, and accidentally shooting a gun at a restaurant) indicate that he may have flouted the law, and if found guilty, that he was not ‘fit and proper’ to be granted the responsibility of gun ownership.

I urge all of us to use the law to make our country safe from gun violence: If you know anyone who owns a gun and shouldn’t, because he is a threat to the people he loves, I urge you to take action by reporting it to your closest police station.

Gun violence can be prevented. Know the Law. Use the Law. Save a Life.

Grace, Alan