Donkeys

Donkeys

Mar 10, 2019  |  First Sunday in Lent, Lent, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Donkeys

Grace and peace to you

In Methodist-speak, the Central Methodist Mission is not a Church, but rather a Society, a word that has an inclusive ring to it. A place where all are welcome to come and worship and where nobody is excluded.

Like all Societies, CMM relies on members of the congregation to assist with the running of the Society. These volunteers are known, uniquely at CMM, as Donkeys.

We hope the name becomes infectious.

People often ask why? Why use the name of an animal that is seen as a joke (jackass), is not considered beautiful (when compared to a horse or zebra) and stands last in the queue when it comes to needing attention?

A donkey is present at the birth of Christ; as it would have carried a heavily pregnant Mary to Bethlehem.

As we enter Lent we also know that on Palm Sunday it was on the back of a donkey that Jesus entered Jerusalem, ahead of his arrest, trial and murder.

I believe that the presence of the donkey in the story of both Christ’s birth and death is not coincidental, but rather a very calculated and understated lesson. It is always in the misunderstood, the abused, the neglected, the supposedly ugly, and the other that we find Jesus, his way and his teaching.

In the rural parts of South Africa, donkeys play an important role in assisting people to collect water and firewood as well as transporting families between the farms as they do seasonal agricultural work, such as sheep shearing and the harvesting of crops.

Like their owners, these donkeys are often treated badly and neglected.

I own two donkeys and they have taught me a great deal. That with basic care, donkeys are very willing and hardworking animals. They are highly intelligent, intuitive creatures and able to remain in good condition in a tough environment such as the Karoo.

A well cared for donkey will live up to the age of 50. They have a long gestation period and are excellent parents. Unlike horses, they cannot be made to perform, and prefer to quietly get on with their work.

So they are the perfect tool to help uplift poor communities.

Volunteers at CMM are proud to be called Donkeys.

So next time you see a donkey on your travels, I would encourage you to take some time out to stop, say hello and share an apple or a carrot. You may meet Jesus.

– A Member of the Donkey Team

 

Mountains and Valleys

Mountains and Valleys

Feb 14, 2016  |  First Sunday in Lent, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Mountains and Valleys

Grace and peace to you …

Following on from last week’s sermon about mountains and valleys being joined at the hip we noted that because they shared the same landscape that we couldn’t have one without the other. After last week’s service I had a number of people use the metaphor of mountains and valleys to let me know where they are in their life or at least in which direction they felt their life was moving.

I have been thinking about this mountain and valley stuff in the last few days. I wonder if the following statement holds any water for you: It may not be obvious to us that we are moving from the mountain into the valley or from the valley up the mountain. Why not?

Well you see, when we walk down a mountain our head is normally held high as we breathe in the breadth of the view stretching to the horizon. As we marvelling at the view we may not notice that we are actually walking down and down into the valley – until of course we have no more vision of a glorious view and only then do we suddenly realise we are off the mountain and in the valley. Equally, when we are walking out of the valley up the mountain our heads are often down and our view is of the soil and rock a meter in front of us. Nothing changes step after step, until all of a sudden a single step settles us on the summit or if not summit then at least some lookout area on which we can turn around and see how far we have come and how high we have climbed.

When I lived in Johannesburg I would leave early in the morning and drive to work along Oxford Road turning into Corlett Drive and the sun would pierce my morning eyes. As I drove down into the valley of Corlett Drive before turning onto the M1 highway the sun would have disappeared and I would sometimes have to put on my headlights because of how dark it was. This reminded me that just because I was in the dark, it didn’t mean that the sun had stopped shining. This really is the challenge during the mountain and valley experiences of our living: To remember the light in the darkness and to hold onto the vision in the valley.

This Lent we are invited to contemplate the Light that it may guide us even when we only see darkness.

Grace, Alan


These two quotes were referred to during Alan’s sermon on February 7, 2016:

“When we are young and hear longing and
sadness in love songs, we think that the sadness
and disappointment are a prelude to the
experience of love and not really the result of its
experience. Later, with a deeper experience,
we realise that the sadness, longing, and
disappointment ultimately originate not from the
fact that love has not taken place but that human
love is finite. This insight helps us realise that the
first task in any love, whether in a marriage or in
a deep friendship, is for the two persons to console
each other for the limits of their love, for the fact
that they cannot not disappoint each other.”
~ Ronald Rolheiser

“A relationship is like a long trip and there’s
bound to be some long dull stretches.
Don’t travel with someone who expects
you to be exciting all the time.”
~ Daniel Berrigan