Christ is risen!

Christ is risen!

April 16, 2017  |  Resurrection Sunday, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Christ is risen!

Grace and peace to you and through you

We read…‘After these things, Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.’ (John 21:1)

On this Resurrection Day we celebrate the world-changing news “Christ is risen!” And we celebrate how Jesus shows himself again and again … and again. In different ways Jesus shows himself and the result is always the same … life unlocked.

One example of Jesus showing himself again is found in Acts 10, which is one of the set readings for today. Here we find Peter struggling to pray (who doesn’t?). He is distracted by a spread of food (who isn’t?) – and most disturbingly this food was not Kosher. Peter hears a voice commanding him to eat. He protests because this food was deemed unclean by long held belief and tradition. An argument ensues leaving Peter puzzled as the voice reprimands him saying: “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” Just then the doorbell rings and Peter welcomes into his home three visitors who had been sent to invite him to visit Cornelius. Cornelius was not a Jew. Up until that minute Peter would have considered the invitation to visit Cornelius as a profane act and yet the stone is miraculously rolled away from the tomb of his prejudice and fear. Peter is resurrected from the false belief that some people are more precious to God than others. Foreigners are discovered to be family and he declares: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality …”

Here Jesus shows himself even through distracted prayer and the surprise visit of strangers at the door. But more importantly we must see why Jesus shows himself again and again? Jesus shows himself to resurrect us from our tombs of death as well as the tombs we lock others into.

In Acts 10 Jesus shows himself to both the perpetrator of prejudice and the victim for the sake of setting them both free. Peter is resurrected out of the tomb of prejudice and into the house of Cornelius. He is resurrected to new life – to new relationship. In the world today and in particular in South Africa today we desperately need to be resurrected from our prejudice, fear and suspicion of people who look,  speak, vote, love or pray differently to us.

May Jesus disturb our prayers and gatecrash our homes!

Grace,
Alan


Nothing is lost on the breath of God

Nothing is lost for ever;
God’s breath is love, and that love will remain, holding
the world for ever.
No feather too light, no hair too fine,
no flower too brief in its glory;
no drop in the ocean, no dust in the air, but is counted
and told in God’s story. 

Nothing is lost to the eyes of God,
nothing is lost for ever;
God sees with love and that love will remain,
holding the world for ever.
No journey too far, no distance too great,
no valley of darkness too blinding;
no creature too humble, no child too small for God
to be seeking, and finding. 

Nothing is lost to the heart of God,
nothing is lost for ever;
God’s heart is love, and that love will remain,
holding the world for ever.
No impulse of love, no office of care,
no moment of life in its fullness;
no beginning too late, no ending too soon,
but is gathered and known in God’s goodness. 

 

Colin Gibson 1996 Hope Publishing Company Used by permission CCLI Number 78945 

The Gift of Life

The Gift of Life

March 27, 2016  |  Resurrection Sunday, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on The Gift of Life

Coffee has a sweeter taste on Easter morning. The air is electric and the flowers seem to whisper, “Did you hear it? Did you? Everyone is talking about it. He is not dead. He is risen. He is ALIVE! Pass it on, pass it on, and don’t let the story die.”

We breathe in the news with breath that reaches our depth and Mary Oliver’s question seems an important one, “Tell me,” she beckons, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” The news that Jesus lives is invitation for us to live too!

It was about a year ago that I was selling all my possessions and preparing to move to South Africa. It was a beautiful process of examination. My sister had almost died with Dengue Fever in a remote village in Tanzania. After hearing the news that she had been airlifted to Kenya and would survive, I found myself reflecting on the fragility of life. In the midst of my reflection, I asked myself “If you were to die tomorrow, what is it that you would regret?” The whisper that rose up was not new; I had heard that hope in the recess of my mind many times. Following the faithful next steps in the wake of that whisper is what led me to serving at CMM with all of you. No one in my life was shocked when I named I wanted to serve in South Africa. Almost everyone said, “It seems exactly the thing for you to do.” Yet, what a leap it was. The only things I have in storage in the US are my theology books.

I had not been in South Africa long before I heard of a Healing of Memories talk that would be held at the District Six Homecoming Centre. In that talk, I heard a man speaking of my grand-father’s people – the Lakota Indians in Canada. He shared about the practice they have of naming everyone they meet a relative. Tears welled in my eyes, for I was sitting in the country I wanted to be in and learning about a truth my grandfather lived faithfully. It was a beautiful moment.

Father Lapsley, the director of the Healing of Memories Institute, is someone whose work I have followed for years. He utilizes circle processes that trace back to Native American practices to help communities who have experienced collective trauma begin the process of healing. I have never formally been trained in circle processes, but I have participated in them. I leave to experience a circle process led by Father Lapsley in one of the communities here and to receive training in that work in just four days. There is something in the elemental part of who I am, my blood, which recognizes this as a gift that will go on giving in my life and ministry. I am thankful.

After this training, I will be in the US visiting with family and with the communities who are supporting my salary. So, I wanted to take time to share with all of you that I am truly grateful for this time here in South Africa, for the journey of each moment of struggle towards the next faithful step, and for the gift of standing witness to what God will unveil in each of our lives as we continue to answer the question “How do I live the life I have been gifted with boldly, generously, graciously, courageously in a way that gives testimony to the belief that Jesus lives?”

I invite you to reflect on questions that have been alive in our community with new Easter light:

  1. What about the world around you evokes a sense of holy discontent?
  2. How might you engage in these areas of discontent with your one precious life?
  3. If nothing held you back, how would you live?

Easter reminds us to release our fears and live!

With you on the journey,
Michelle

Christ is risen

Christ is risen

April 5, 2015  |  Resurrection Sunday  |  Comments Off on Christ is risen

Grace and Peace to you


I Praise You for this Resurrection Madness 

Lord of such amazing surprises…

I praise you for this joy,
too great for words…

for this mercy
that blots out my betrayals
and bids me begin again,
to limp on,
to hop-skip-and-jump on,
to mend what is broken in and around me,
and to forgive the breakers;

for this YES
to life and laughter,
to love and lovers,
and to my unwinding self;
for this kingdom
unleashed in me and I in it forever,
and no dead ends to growing,
to choices,
to chances,
to calls to be just;

no dead ends to living,
to making peace,
to dreaming dreams,
to being glad of heart;

for this resurrection madness
which is wiser than I
and in which I see
how great you are,
how full of grace.
Alleluia!

Ted Loder


An Easter Prayer of Promise

I live each day to kill death;
I die each day to beget life,
and in this dying unto death,
I die a thousand times and am reborn another thousand through that love …
which nourishes hope!

Julia Esquivel, Guatemala 


Our prayer is to change, O God,
not out of despair of self
but for love of You,
and for the selves we long to become.

Ted Loder

Resurrection hope

Resurrection hope

April 20, 2014  |  Resurrection Sunday  |  Comments Off on Resurrection hope

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12

_____________________________________________

An Easter Prayer of Promise

I live each day to kill death;
I die each day to beget life,
and in this dying unto death,
I die a thousand times and am reborn another thousand through that love …,
which nourishes hope!

Julia Esquivel, Guatemala

_____________________________________________

To trust in the Resurrection is the most radical of HOPE-HOLDING.  It is to hold onto hope regardless of anything and everything.  It is to hold onto hope even when all is dead and buried.  It is to hold onto hope when there is no hope left to hold….but to do so in any case.

I invite you to Meditate on the Brazilian theologian, Rubem Alves’ poem What is Hope?

What is hope?
It is a presentiment that imagination is more real
and reality less real than it looks.
It is a hunch
that the overwhelming brutality of facts
that oppress and repress is not the last word.
It is a suspicion
that reality is more complex
than realism wants us to believe
and that the frontiers of the possible
are not determined by the limits of the actual
and that in a miraculous and unexpected way
life is preparing the creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection…
The two, suffering and hope, live from each other.
Suffering without hope
produces resentment and despair,
hope without suffering
creates illusions, naiveté, and drunkenness…
Let us plant dates
even though those who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
This is the secret discipline.
It is a refusal to let the creative act
be dissolved in immediate sense experience
and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined love
is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints
the courage to die for the future they envisaged.
They make their own bodies
the seed of their highest hope.

With the HOPE that we will live with the love of what we will never see.

Grace, Alan

Limitless, fathomless and all-embracing love

Limitless, fathomless and all-embracing love

March 31, 2013  |  Resurrection Sunday  |  Comments Off on Limitless, fathomless and all-embracing love

This past week we have been reflecting on the parable of the Prodigal Son or as other more accurately call it the parable of the Waiting Father. The parable is one of death and resurrection – as the Father later confirmed: “This son of mine was dead but is now alive again.”

None of the characters in the parable have names. Their identity comes through their relationships: father, son and brother. To break the relationship is to lose your identity. To lose your identity is to die. No one is an island. I am who I am because you are who you are. We exist in togetherness or not at all. We call it Ubuntu.

Death in the scriptures is not reduced to whether we have a pulse or not. The younger son was still breathing but he was dead because he was no longer living in relationship with his father and brother. He was tempted by the illusion of independence and the lie that you can live a separate selfish life and still live.

Both sons in different ways separate themselves from the Father – or as Miroslav Volf says they try and “un-son” themselves. The younger one travels to a distant land while the older son remains outside in anger. Both cause the Father grief. Grieving. For he has lost a loved one.

When the child returns to relationship he is resurrected. He is born again. We are born again when we live life lovingly again.

On Monday evening I read an extract from a beautiful book called: “Father Joe”. In it the author records a time when he came to Father Joe for confession after many, many years of being in a “distant land” and with “the pigs”. After he shared some of the gory details about his life, Father Joe says to him:

These are great imperfections, dear. But they’re not what you really want to say, are they?” He was right… there was something, but I couldn’t quite reach down far enough to find it. “Say what’s in your heart now, dear.”

“I seem incapable of love, Father Joe. Utterly incapable of feeling it, even thinking it. Even wanting it. No, that’s not true. I want to love, terribly. But it won’t come … I hate love. It feels the way a sin used to. Like when you got a present as a kid and for no reason at all you’d smash it into little pieces…”

“Tony dear, you will only be able to love when you understand how much you are loved. You are loved, dear, with a limitless… fathomless… all-embracing love.”

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. That Jesus is alive and that Jesus is Lord. And we also celebrate that by allowing him to love us we too are resurrected to new life. To a loved life. To a life lived lovingly.

Peace, Alan