Donkeys for Jesus

Jan 22, 2012  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Donkeys for Jesus

You have often heard me say that Jesus needed a donkey to get around the city of Jerusalem and Jesus needs donkeys to get around our city of Cape Town.  Using the analogy of a donkey to remind us that we are called to be at Jesus’ service — to help him “get around”.  To be a worker — humble and persistent (I will leave out stubborn!).

This Wednesday the 25th you are invited to attend a CONGREGATIONAL MEETING to hear afresh the vision we have at CMM and to hear of the many opportunities for each of us to enroll as a donkey.

Please receive this as a personal invitation. EVERYONE is encouraged to attend. If you need transport let Adrienne (at the information desk at the back) know.

One of the signs of a mature Christ-like community is that the “regulars” do not attend for their own sake but for the sake of others —ever making the circle bigger — preventing an inner circle. This is a very important shift. As Jesus said if we want to save our life — we will loose it, but if we are willing to give it up — we will have it giving to us. If we come to worship just for ourselves — we will loose it’s real significance — but if we come open to attend to the needs of others then we will “find it”. In this we discover the great truth that our real need is to care for the needs of others — but we will only learn this mystery of the Gospel when we do so. Yes, some things can only be learnt in the doing.

A CONGREGATIONAL MEETING also allows for free discussion about our life together — raising any issue that happens to be on your heart. If you have any “topics” you would like to discuss please let Adrienne (at the welcome desk at the back of the sanctuary) have them.

Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday, Alan

Image credits: Håkan Dahlström

Silence & Service

Jan 15, 2012  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Silence & Service

Normally by this stage in January things are getting back to normal as we find our routine again after the holidays. While the year is still flexible in its youth I encourage you FIX time for silence and service into the pattern of your living.

Silence is a magnifying glass into the soul, i.e. the very essence of who we are. Silence is necessary if we are going to really be attentive to our life and world around us. And attentiveness to life is really the essence of any meaningful spirituality.

Service is the privileged moment for us to attend to God’s dream for this suffering world.

Silence and service need each other. Silence without service can be little more than naval gazing while service without silence can lead to a thoughtless exhausted frenzy. Silence and service should feed off each other as much as they should lead into each other.

One small moment for silence is from 9 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday before worship. And then there are so many opportunities for service following the silence. To find out about all these opportunities we will be having a congregational meeting on 25 January at 7 p.m. in our Sanctuary. I look forward to seeing you.

 Peace, Alan

The work of Christmas never stops

The work of Christmas never stops

Jan 13, 2012  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on The work of Christmas never stops

The New Year has begun and so has the work of Christmas.

 

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

Source: Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas

Do not pimp the poor

Jan 6, 2012  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Do not pimp the poor

Today I share some insights from Nadia Bolz-Weber:

“… while we as people of God are certainly called to feed the hungry and cloth the naked … It can be dangerous when it starts to feel like we are placing ourselves above the world waiting to descend on those below so we can be the “blessing” they’ve been waiting for like it or not. It can so easily become a well-meaning but insidious blend of benevolence and paternalism. It can so easily become pimping the poor so that we can feel like we are being good little Christs for them.

Jesus says I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Which means … Christ comes not in the form of those who feed the hungry but in the hungry being fed. Christ comes not in the form of those who visit the imprisoned but in the imprisoned being cared for. And to be clear, Christ does not come to us AS the poor and hungry. Because as anyone for whom the poor are not an abstraction but actual flesh and blood people knows … the poor and hungry and imprisoned are not a romantic special class of Christ like people. And those who meet their needs are not a romantic special class of Christ like people. We all are equally as Sinful and Saintly as the other. No, Christ comes to us IN the needs of the poor and hungry, needs that are met by another so that the gleaming redemption of God might be known. And we are all the needy and the ones who meet needs. Placing ourselves or anyone else in only one category or another is to tell ourselves the wrong story entirely.”

Peace, Alan

Gift of vulnerability

Gift of vulnerability

Dec 21, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Gift of vulnerability

I was given a gift this week — a Christmas present. It was not wrapped up in Christmas paper and it did not come with a card attached.  When the gift was being given to me the person did not say: “Happy Christmas”. If you had to ask the person who gave me the Christmas gift: “Have you given Alan a Christmas present?”  The answer would be, “no”.  But they did — they just don’t know it.  And what is more the gift fitted perfectly — it was tailor made for me — one of a kind in all the world.  As I said, I was given a very precious Christ-gift this week.

I was given the gift of vulnerability. Vulnerability through open and honest conversation. These days this is quite a rare gift to be given even though it is a gift all of us have to give, as well as being a gift all of us desperately need — although we are perhaps equally afraid of.

The vulnerability I am speaking about is not to be confused with fragility. Weaknesses are spoken about but there is nothing weak about this vulnerability. It takes strength to share ones weakness. It takes courage to stand exposed before another. It takes confidence to strip.

I was reminded again how vulnerability begets vulnerability.  I experienced how shared vulnerability can facilitate inner freedom and caring connection.

Humble, gentle, truth-telling and humble, gentle, non-judgmental listening. These are gifts we are all able to gift each other with.  They really are the most authentic Christmas gifts.  They are not for sale because they are free — may God give us the courage to share them.

Jesus came full of grace and truth … let us do the same.  Alan

The horror of hunger

The horror of hunger

Dec 20, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on The horror of hunger

Each week after we have shared in the benediction I walk to the doors to be available to shake hands with you as you leave. Last Sunday after we had spoken the words of our disturbing benediction (printed below) I was met by a young man who spoke earnestly into my ear.  He looked like he had slept rough the night before — perhaps he was homeless I am not sure — I had not seen him before.  He was asking me for something.  I thought he was asking me for money — and I was about to tell him that I don’t do that — when he even more earnestly repeated his request.  This time I heard him clearly. “Pastor please give me the left over bread on the table over there.” He was referring to the remainders of the bread from Holy Communion. I was reminded again of the horror of hunger that companions so many people in this beloved country!  And the words of our Benediction of discomfort echoed again …

 May God bless us with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our heart.

May God bless us with anger,
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears,
To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness,
To believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.

Amen.

Remember that we always are need of volunteers after each worship service to help serve Sunday Lunch at the service dining hall on Canterbury Street.

SABC Radio Broadcast - Lazarus and the Rich Man

SABC Radio Broadcast – Lazarus and the Rich Man

Dec 10, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on SABC Radio Broadcast – Lazarus and the Rich Man

Earlier this year we had a sermon broadcast on SAFM – one of the SABC’s radio stations. This sermon – entitled Lazarus and the Rich Man – was recently rebroadcast, and we have received a few requests for a link to the sermon. You can download the sermon using the download link provided below.

Download Sermon

You can download other sermons by accessing our sermon archive:

Visit archive

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Credit: Image by Mr. Kris, used under creative commons license.

An African Nativity by Harry Sitole

An African Nativity by Harry Sitole

Dec 8, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on An African Nativity by Harry Sitole

The Christmas Day Service is at 10 a.m.
New Year’s Eve Reflection and Communion is between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
New Year’s Day Service is at 10 a.m.

Advent Emancipation

Advent Emancipation

Dec 6, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Advent Emancipation

On the 1st Dec. 1834 the Emancipation of the Slaves within the British Empire was announced from the Town House steps on Green Market Square.  It actually took another four years for the Slaves in the Cape Colony to be free because the colonial government of the day wanted to give the protesting slave owners time to adapt.  Slaves therefore worked as apprentices for their former owners without pay for four more years.  Many therefore regard 1st Dec 1838 as the real emancipation Day.  This reminds us that freedom was something hard struggled for.  We think of William Wilberforce who struggled against slavery for 50 years of his 74 year life.  The following speech he made some 42 years before the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act:

Let us not despair; it is a blessed cause, and success, ere long, will crown our exertions. Already we have gained one victory; we have obtained, for these poor creatures, the recognition of their human nature, which, for a while was most shamefully denied. This is the first fruits of our efforts; let us persevere and our triumph will be complete. Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we at present labour, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonour to this country. [House of Commons, 18 April 1791]

This past week we celebrate (though very late) the new Government plan to counter the AIDS epidemic and thank God for those who persevered in struggle. Let us assist and get ourselves tested  – trusting that the truth will set us free.  Advent Emancipation.   Alan

Advent and the secrecy bill

Advent and the secrecy bill

Nov 27, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Advent and the secrecy bill

This past Tuesday I went to the National Assembly and witnessed the passing of the Secrecy Bill.  To see MPs voting as slaves to their party rather than as servants of the people was sad — the notable inspiring exception being Gloria Borman.  But as Upton Sinclair said: “It is difficult to get a man [sic] to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”   The Secrecy Bill goes against what we know to be true about the human condition and that is when we mess up — we cover up.  Adam and Eve taught us that. And therefore laws should make it more difficult to cover up and not easier.  Laws should encourage people to be whistle-blowers of the truth rather than threaten to criminalise the truth-teller.  Let us stay awake….

In the evening I bore witness to another meeting — this time in Khayelitsha and of mostly young     people.  The venue was very different to parliament’s plushness and that was not the only difference.  The conversation was defiantly hope-full.  I listened to people dream of “one Cape Town” and declare that they “cannot wait for government to deliver” so they must “deliver themselves – through education” and I listened to speakers   encourage young people to become “lawyers for the poor”.  How the crowd appreciated being seen as a generation full of potential rather than a lost generation.  Today is the first Sunday of Advent — a day of hope-filled expectation.  For me Advent started on Tuesday evening.    Alan