Be God's Partner

Be God’s Partner

February 4, 2018  |  Harvest Festival, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Be God’s Partner

Grace and Peace

Thank you for all the food that has been brought to CMM this morning for Harvest Festival. This food will find its way into the tummies of children at Stepping Stones Preschool in the form of delicious recipes cooked by their awesome chef.

Back in the day people would have brought the food for Harvest Festival straight from the land and not via the shop. Their fingers would still be soil-stained on Sunday morning. The miracle of their gift would not have been lost on them because they were intimately present to the wondrous mystery of a seed dying and resurrecting as plant and life-giving food:

A seed … hard and tiny buried in the depths of darkness … still … absorbing, stretching, splitting, bursting, ground-breaking, light-receiving, oxygen-sharing, tongue-tasting and stomach-nourishing.

Way back in the biblical days the people would offer their first fruits as a gift of gratitude to their Creator. This was completely counter-cultural. Instead of enjoying the first fruits themselves (imagine the temptation to do that!) or storing the first fruits to secure a food-filled future, they gifted the Giver of the gift. Regardless how much they toiled in the sun with bent back and burnt neck they knew that the resurrection of food from seed was beyond their doing. They knew it was by grace and not by their work alone.

On offering their first-fruited-gifts they would recite a liturgy reminding them that the land itself was a gift from the Great Giver. They would remember and recite their history as a slave people set free by the Great Liberator [See Deuteronomy. 26]. This liturgy of grateful memory released them of fear and greed to give and share. Herein we learn the truth about generosity: Generosity is rooted in gratitude not wealth; it is a matter of the heart not the wallet. It is always a response: We give because God first gave to us. The purpose of our generosity is one and the same as Jesus’ purpose: to bring LIFE in all its fullness.

At Central Methodist Mission [CMM] we are encouraged to be generous beyond the boundaries of the Church, knowing that the “world is our parish” rather than the parish being our world. Our giving to God not only includes that which we put into the Sunday offertory, but it also includes every act of generosity we do in our daily living that aims to protect and promote LIFE and thereby partner God in mending this broken, yet God-so-loved-world.

To help us to be deliberate about growing in generosity we are invited to make the following commitment: Yes, God – Great Giver and Liberator – I want to partner you in mending this broken world by growing in generosity in all areas of my life. I therefore make this monetary offering in “hilarious celebration” [2 Corinthians 9:7] of your generous gift of grace. 

I know that my money is not my own, but yours. Forgive me for being inclined to act like it is my own. Please help me to use the money entrusted to me to make a LIFE-giving difference in this world you so love.

I therefore commit:
A monthly gift of gratitude R______________ to partner you in mending the world through Central Methodist Mission.
A monthly gift of gratitude R______________ to partner you in mending the world through the people and / or organisations.

Grace,
Alan

Let us be still

Let us be still

February 7, 2016  |  Harvest Festival, Sunday Letter, Transfiguration Sunday  |  Comments Off on Let us be still

Grace and Peace to you,

Along with fasting from wasting water this Lent we may consider fasting from wasting words. Yes, a water and word fast!

Barbara Brown Taylor in her book: When God is silent writes: “How shall I break the silence? What word is more eloquent than the silence itself? In the moments before a word is spoken, anything is possible. The empty air is a formless void waiting to be addressed.”

Such is the power of words. Anything is possible.

She continues, “…the most dangerous word God ever says is Adam. All by itself it is no more than a pile of dust – nothing to be concerned about, really – but by following it with the words for image and dominion, God sifts divinity into that dust, endowing it with things that belong to God alone. When God is through with it, this dust will bear the divine likeness. When God is through with it, this dust will exercise God’s own dominion – not by flexing its muscles but by using its tongue. Up to this point in the story, God has owned the monopoly on speech. Only God has had the power to make something out of nothing by saying it is so. Now, in this act of shocking generosity God’s stock goes public… human beings endowed by God with the power of the Word… This power of ours has no safety catch on it. We are as likely to make nothing out of something as the other way around…”

We all know how words can bring life or death because we have had such words spoken to us. This Lent let us watch our words. Let us not waste our words on trivialities and gossip. May we only speak words that bring life and fast from all words that bring death. If our words will not improve on the silence let us be still…

Grace, Alan


LENT 2016: Water Fast

In LENT we are invited to fast. To fast is to live with limits. The first fast was given as Divine instruction for daily living in the Garden of Eden: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” To live without limits is to die. To fast is to live. To fast is to bring life.

This LENT, in the year of one of South Africa’s worst droughts, let us fast – live with limits – in relation to water. Perhaps our water fast will help us to hear Jesus’ crucifying cry: “I thirst” more acutely. This is the cry of an ever-increasing number of people.

This is how we generally use water on a daily basis: about a third is for toilet-flushing, a third for body hygiene and another third for laundering, washing the dishes, cooking and drinking. For cooking and drinking we need about 5 litres per day.

This LENT let’s limit ourselves to a maximum of 50 litres of water per day – remembering that there are many in our land who are forced to live on much less.

A Few Water Saving Tips

  1. Turn the tap off when you brush your teeth – this can save 6 litres of water per minute.
  2. Place a cistern displacement device in your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water used in each flush (a one litre bottle filled with water works well).
  3. Take a shorter shower. Showering can use anything between 6 and 45 litres per minute.