Sunday, 10th January 2010

January 11, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 10th January 2010

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                

 

We are still in the first fresh days of the New Year.  Even if you are not a “New Year’s Resolution” type of person —I am sure the desire for newness stirs in you.  The yearning to live differently—to walk more fully in the foot steps of Jesus… 

 

Reminding ourselves of what Jesus and James both advised may help us to walk in the light-filled paths that lead to new Life:  “…let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no.”  (Matt. 5:37 and James 5:12).

 

Here they invite us to be clear in the words we speak and the deeds we do.  In other words, to say or do what we mean and to mean what we say or do.  To be unambiguous.  To be authentic, genuine and transparent.  This is no easy task.  It will demand that we “know thyself”.  This knowing and clear and unambiguous way of being will originate from silence—prayerful      silence and reflection.  This is where you and I are called to invest. 

 

Furthermore these words invite us to reflect on when we should say “yes” and when we should say “no”.   Sometimes we say the one instead of the other so not to offend someone or conversely to please them.   At the heart of this may be a shallow trust in our own preciousness rooted in Jesus’ holding love of our lives.  This trust will deepen through prayerful silence and reflection.  This is where you and I are en-courage-d to begin.  Alan

 

Sunday, 3rd January 2010

January 11, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 3rd January 2010

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                

 

I am not sure where your New Year’s resolutions are inspired from.  I hope they are connected to the longings of God’s heart for this world.  I hope they embody God’s dream for your life.   To this end I encourage you to allow Scripture to be the basis for your resolutions going forward.  Here are a few verses of Scripture that if each of us decided to adopt prayerfully this new year will be remembered for more than just the Soccer World Cup!

 

I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (Eph. 4:1-3)

 

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable to one another without complaining.  Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:8-11).

 

Loving Lord give us the desire to pray these words daily until we live them faithfully.  Peace, Alan.

 

Sunday, 27th December 2009

January 11, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 27th December 2009

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                

 

A special welcome to Rodger Florist who will be sharing God’s word with us this morning.  Trust you are among family Rodger!  May God give you words to draw us to drink from the fountain of God’s faithfulness today.

 

Just two days ago we celebrated Christmas.  We were reminded that is about Jesus.  And Jesus is about the utterly-loving-Creator-God’s desperate desire for all of creation to know that we are all utterly loved.  We reflected on Edwin Markham’s poem: Outwitted suggesting that Christmas is God’s outwitting move drawing us in…

 

He drew a circle that shut me out—

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in. 

 

Now on the other side of Christmas, but still bursting in its glow, we are challenged to do as God has done to us.  As God has expanded the circle of God’s love to include us we are invited to do the same towards others.  I invite you to think of just one person or group of people who in all honesty we have yet to include in the circle of our love.  Lets write down their name………………………………. and begin to pray that God will help us stretch the circle of our love to include them.  With love, Alan.

 

Christmas Day

January 11, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Christmas Day

Dear Friends,                                                                                             

 

Joy to you and your family this Christmas Day! 

 

Christmas is about Jesus. 

And Jesus is about the utterly-loving-Creator-God’s desperate desire for all of creation to know that we are all utterly loved. 

 

Like Edwin Markham’s poem: Outwitted

 

He drew a circle that shut me out—

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in. 

 

Christmas is God’s outwitting move—drawing the largest of circles that takes us in.  I pray that each and every one of us will know God’s loving encirclement today.  God knows this is where our healing rests.  Only when we know and trust that we live and move and have our being in God’s loveliness will we be set free from fear to live life lovingly.  We often hear that people can only love others if they first love themselves.  Well, we can only love ourselves when we know that we have first been loved by One greater than us, outside of us, yet One who loves us from within.   O Jesus may your birth among us remind us of God’s loving encirclement of our lives.  Alan.

 

Sunday, 20th December 2009

January 11, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 20th December 2009

Dear Friends,                                                                                             

 

A special welcome to all visitors today.  Welcome especially to Rev. Denis M Crystal.  Thank you so much for being with us.  May God give you words to draw us closer into God’s holiness. 

 

 

Four weeks ago on the first Sunday of Advent—we were urged to be urgent in our preparations for the coming of Jesus. 

 

From the Gospel of Luke we were told to “be on our guard” and “to be alert at all times praying…”  (Luke 21:34f).   Well now time really is drawing close and I hope that in these few days before Christmas—days that sadly are too often characterized by a frantic busyness—will be spent prayerfully alert.   

 

On that first Sunday of Advent we also read from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.  Paul’s prayer is for us at this time.

 

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.  And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.  (1 Thess. 3:12-13).

 

To pray this prayer is what real Christmas preparation is all about.  Alan

 

Sunday, 13th December 2009

December 13, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 13th December 2009

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                

 

God of new creating, who beckon us to the dance of birthing and sustains us in our labouring, hear this prayer:

 

From fear of the unknown

deliver me. 

From doubts of my creativity

deliver me.

From ridicule by those around me

deliver me.

From my excuses about my abilities, my age, my education, my looks, my status deliver me.

 

With your promise of companionship download Return to Oz

comfort me. 

With your creative spirit

bless me.

With your pledge of sustenance

strengthen me.

With your embrace of all of me

heal me and set me to motion.

 

You who called me to life that you may be born again in me, blessed be in this and all seasons!

An Advent prayer by Jan L. Richardson

 

Sunday, 6th December 2009

December 13, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 6th December 2009

Dear Friends,                                                                                        

 

Last Sunday was the first week of Advent— the beginning of the Christian year.  We reflected on how Advent begins with the end in mind by reminding us to prepare for Jesus’ second coming.  With this “end” in mind the hope is that we all start the year with a greater sense of urgency.  An urgency to prepare our lives and world in ways of Jesus.  As leadership guru, John Kotter’s latest book puts it: “We are too complacent and we don’t even know it ….a big reason that a true sense of urgency is rare is because it s not a natural state of affairs.  It has to be created and recreated.”  Well this is exactly what Advent hopes to do—create an urgency within us.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes with urgency in an Advent sermon he preached in 1928:

It is very remarkable that we face the thought that God is coming, so calmly, whereas previously peoples trembled at the day of God . . . . We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for every one who has a conscience.

 

Today during the celebration of Holy Communion we will once again declare, Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ WILL COME AGAIN.  Perhaps only when we can keep this end constantly in mind—that one day we will meet Jesus face to face—will we be able to remain urgent about the pressing importance of following in the ways of Jesus. 

With the shiver of fear….Alan.

 

Sunday, 29 November 2009

December 1, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 29 November 2009

 

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                

 

On the 1st December 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 December 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

 

Sadly Wilberforce’s words are painfully relevant for the 1st December 2009 in South Africa as we continue to live through “so long a disgrace and dishonour” of HIV / Aids.  Many still long for freedom!    Alan.

 

Sunday, 22 November 2009

November 24, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 22 November 2009

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                

 

On my way home from Seattle, a week or so ago, I stopped over at my uncle’s place in New Jersey—a welcome “halfway house” that breaks the long flight home. 

 

Amazing how as our days get longer theirs become shorter.  It was getting dark at around 4:30 in the afternoon!  On one of the chilly evenings my uncle had the great idea of making a fire in the lounge fire place.  It was the first he had made since the previous winter.  A few minutes after lighting the fire I was startled by the sound of a piercing alarm going off within the house.  I didn’t know what it was.  I ran downstairs into a thick choking smoke.  I thought the house was on fire, only to discover that the reason for the smoke was due to the fact that my uncle had forgotten to open the flue  of the chimney which had been closed for the summer.  It was only after the flue was opened (and nearly every window in the house) that we found some relief and the alarm stopped screaming. 

 

I received this as a parable for my life:  For my living to bring life-giving warmth and not death-choking smoke, I need to open my flue-like heart to the God-filled heavens.   This will happen through prayer or I fear it will not happen at all.  A prayer-less life—not open to the heavens—pollutes the earth. 

Let us pray…..   Peace, Alan. 

 

Sunday, 15 November 2009

November 24, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 15 November 2009

Dear Friends,                                                                                               

 

Welcome everyone!  And a special welcome to Rev. Tim Attwell.  Just to let you know, Tim retired last week and when I called him a few months ago to ask whether he was available to preach today—he answered: “Yes I am free!”  I will leave it up to you to decide what he meant!  But thank you Tim for agreeing to preach one week after your retirement—it is a joy and privilege to have you here today helping us to celebrate the 130th Anniversary of the dedication of this building, way back on the 12 November 1879. 

 

Looking back over some of the records of this glorious sanctuary I came across its measurements.  “The spire is 46 m high and the nave 20 m high,   while the width is 18 m and is 34 m in length”.  That is an impressively high ceiling—surely hoping that we will have a sense of the High and Holy in our midst and reminding us of the Heights of God’s endless glory. 

 

It reminds me that in the early part of last century “Polish synagogues were built below the ground—like caves.  The reason for this was because the State prohibited synagogues to be built as high as churches.  But the Jews refused to have their reverence diminished by building codes.  The vaulted ceilings were still built; the congregation simply prayed deeper underground.”  (From: Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels).   Our high ceiling was built 130 years ago, now it is for us to pray deeper.  This is the core of our calling and our most pressing need on our journey towards future faithfulness! 

Peace, Alan.