When trust is stolen

May 29, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on When trust is stolen

You may remember a few weeks back I asked if you ever stop and reflect on how much stuff you carry around with you … things like … cell phone, keys, wallet, driver’s license, glasses, bag (never mind what is in the bag…). Well, on that very Sunday my car was broken into and everything in the above mentioned list (and more) was stolen. This past Tuesday the Church’s TV walked out of our offices in broad daylight, and last Sunday about 30 m of copper piping was stolen from within our servitude lane.

So all in all I have spent far too much time lately in Police Stations. Besides the goods themselves, and the time and hassle it takes to replace everything — even when things are insured — there are some things that take much longer to replace, namely trust. Yes, every time I have something stolen from me I realise that far more has been taken than can be written on an insurance claim. My trust in people — especially strangers is also stolen.

I notice how much more suspicious I am of strangers. Suspicion that feeds into my prejudice and racism. I become paranoid. Paranoia that can easily imprison. There is such a temptation to become so security-conscious, especially around the Church property, that we end up restricting access to the very people we are called to journey with.

Lord give me (and all others in the same situation) back what no insurance company can give — a love and openness for the stranger.

Praying, Alan

More than a fresh coat of paint

May 27, 2011  |  Sunday Letter, Words  |  Comments Off on More than a fresh coat of paint

A special welcome to the Bishop of the Cape of Good Hope District, Rev. Michel Hansrod. It is our joy and privilege to have you sharing the Good News with us this morning at CMM.  Please trust that you are among family.

Over the past couple of months CMM has gone to great efforts to restore the beauty of this glorious sanctuary. We still have a great deal to do because our aim stretches much further than a fresh coat of paint. We long to be a community that is a source of abundant life within this city. Very soon the wooden doors of this sanctuary will stand open 24/7 with warm light shining through the welcoming-glass-doors.

A few years ago we were encouraged by our Presiding Bishop to tell the story of God’s movement, through the people called Methodists, in Southern Africa. Today we celebrate our rich heritage stretching back to John Wesley himself — as we display an original hand-written letter from Mr Wesley dated 1772.  Please be sure to read some of his thoughts on the display boards — they are amazingly relevant for today. Next to the Wesley letter is the relocated tombstone of Rev. Barnabas Shaw, not to mention the “time tunnel” of CMM memorabilia that has been dusted off to be shown off. This display is the beginning of our on-going story that will be added to over time.

Take a bow — all of you who have generously given of your support, money, time and energy to enable this restoration work to come this far.

Peace, Alan
Sunday 22 May 2011

Life takes practice & daily discipline

May 15, 2011  |  Sunday Letter, Words  |  Comments Off on Life takes practice & daily discipline

Wow, this morning (meaning this past Thursday morning) I spoke to someone at the gym who in the last couple of months has lost 35 kg. I have often seen him grimacing when his personal trainer takes him through his daily routine between 6 – 7 a.m. His language is sometimes quite colourful as a result of the physical exertion his personal trainer demands. He is still a big guy but unrecognisably so. I salute his persistent discipline. I admire the extent of his investment in his health — personal trainers are not cheap — but they are a whole lot cheaper than heart attacks. I also admire his honesty and humility to recognise that without a personal trainer holding him accountable and coaching him, the change he dreamed of would remain just that — a dream, never to see the light of day.

Last night (meaning Wednesday night) during Wednesday Church we learnt from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist Monk, the great need to practice, practice, practice. To practice ‘deep listening’ — to listen without judgment and blame. To practice ‘deep looking’ — to look within ourselves to locate the origins of our own anger and violence. To practice walking calmly and gently on the earth. These practices will produce understanding and with understanding  our hearts are opened to compassion. “Only a drop of compassion can put out the fire of hatred in ourselves and others”.

Is this difficult? Sure it is! Like loosing 35kg is difficult. It takes practice and daily discipline and to do this we need coaching and accountability.  In Church, like gym we need personal trainers.

Lets chat, Alan

Killing grieves God

May 15, 2011  |  Sunday Letter, Words  |  Comments Off on Killing grieves God

This past week we heard the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed. President Obama announced that “it was a good day for America” and that it goes to show “that there is nothing we can’t do”. We have known Obama as a great orator but these words of his disappointed. They diminished rather than enlarged our common humanity. They added to the inappropriate gloating that took place outside the White House and Ground-Zero. Bin Laden’s killing — like all killing — is a tragedy that grieves God the creator and lover of us all.

In the Gospels Jesus says that Satan cannot cast out Satan. Equally, violence cannot cast out violence or killing cast out killing. Violence and killing beget more of the same. This tragic truth stains much of our human history. When will we stop doing to others as they have done to us? When will we take Jesus at His Word — and begin to love our enemies in the very least by refusing to kill them? If there was one thing Jesus was very clear about — in word and in deed — it was that we are called to love our enemies.

In reminding his congregation of this, St. Augustine proclaimed in a sermon: “Let your desire for him [your enemy] be that together with you he may have eternal life: let your desire for him be that he may be your brother. And if that is what you desire in loving your enemy (that he may be your brother) when you love him, you love a brother. You love in him, not what he is, but what you would have him be.” (Augustine, Eighth Homily, in Homilies on the First Epistle of St John).

God, encourage us to extend the circle of our love to include our enemies.

Alan
Sunday 8 May 2011

Carry a Psalm with you

May 1, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Carry a Psalm with you

Do you ever stop and reflect on just how much stuff you carry around with you?  Cell phone, keys, wallet, driver’s license, glasses, bag (never mind what is in the bag…) the list can go on and on.

Today I want to encourage you to carry something else around with you — something that really will enrich our living. I encourage you to carry a psalm with you each week.  A psalm that we can carry in our mind — reading and re-reading — perhaps even learning it by heart — carrying it in our heart.

 This past week Psalm 16 was our set psalm.  Here are a few lines that moved me to wonder and wander…

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.
You show me the path of life.  In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

These words cannot be read too slowly. As we read them — they read us back. What do they mean? What do they mean for our individual lives and for us as a community, country … cosmos?

Peace, Alan

Resurrection Sunday 24 April 2011

April 26, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Resurrection Sunday 24 April 2011

“The Resurrection means that nothing is hopeless anymore!” – Nora Gallagher

Stand face to face with the crucified Lord

April 26, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Stand face to face with the crucified Lord

Today we are called to stand face to face with the crucified Lord. Crucified because he refused to restrict his loving to the accepted contours of the socio, political, economic, cultural, religious and national interests of his day. He loved without fear and favour. This was too threatening for those who had a vested interest in the status quo and too disappointing for those who desired a violent overthrow of the status quo. Faced with the choice of limiting his loving or being killed — he chose to be killed and in his dying breaths he extended his love to new heights to include even his killers.

May his love pierce us today, Alan
Sunday 24 April 2011

“We have gotten so used to the ultimate Christian fact — Jesus naked, stripped, crucified and risen — that we no longer see it for what it is: a summons to strip ourselves of earthly cares and worldly wisdom, all desire for human praise, greediness for any kind of comfort; a readiness to stand up and be counted as peacemakers in a violent world; a willingness to let go of those pretenses that would have us believe that we really aren’t worldly. Even the last rag we cling to — the self-flattery that suggests we are being humble when we disclaim any resemblance to Jesus Christ — even that rag has to go when we stand face to face with the crucified Lord.” Brennan Manning in The Signature of Jesus.

Connections at CMM

April 22, 2011  |  Sunday Letter, Words  |  Comments Off on Connections at CMM

The primary purpose of Connections is to connect us to the way of Jesus.

Connections seeks to deepen our connection with God, with one another,  with ourselves and with creation around us and takes a fresh look at the Christian faith in the light of our present context. Connections will deepen our sense of belonging at CMM, and shape our life together in community. In so doing, Connections will connect us to the wounds of the world and equip us to compassionately care seeking healing and justice for all.

Join this 12 week journey – every Sunday evening from 7pm-9pm.

If you answer “YES” to any of the following questions please consider signing up for Connections …

  • Would you like to deepen your understanding of what it may mean to follow Jesus in the world today?
  • Would you like to be part of a weekly discussion group that is free of judgment and full of respect for everyone’s point of view?
  • Would you like to deepen your sense of  belonging at CMM?
  • Would you like to get to know new people at CMM and find out where you can serve?
  • Would you like to be baptized or have your child baptised?
  • Would you like to be equipped to change this world?

You would?  Then please contact the office on 021 422 2744 to sign up.

The weekly themes are as follows:

God’s Great Grace (30 January 2011)

God’s Liberating Dream for the World (6 February)

God’s Life-Giving Spirit (13 February)

God’s Contrast Community (20 February)

God’s Song Sung in a Foreign Land (27 February)

God’s Tears and our Suffering (6 March)

God’s Presence and our Prayer (13 March)

God’s Word as our Story (20 March)

God’s Table and God’s Stream (27 March)

God’s Generosity and our Gratitude (10 April)

God’s people called Methodists (17 April)

God’s Invitation to the World through Us (24 April)

Wednesday Church

April 22, 2011  |  Sunday Letter, Words  |  Comments Off on Wednesday Church

I believe the psalmist speaks for all of us when s/he prays, “As a deer longs for flowing streams so my life longs for you O God” [Psalm 42:1]. I also believe that the psalmist is speaking literally rather than metaphorically. Simply put, we thirst for God as we thirst for water.

Human beings can only go without water for about three days and even one day without water is tough! The same applies to our relationship with God — reminding us to drink daily from the multitude of means of grace given to us, not least the gifts of silence and prayer and reading of the Scriptures.

Equally it would be a health risk for us to think that we can last much past three days without connecting as Church. Church simply understood is Christ-centered Community.

For this reason I want to invite you to attend Wednesday Church.

The evenings will generally include a mixture of worship / teaching / discussion / coffee….from 7pm-9pm.

“What I Would Say to Osama bin Laden”

“What I Would Say to Osama bin Laden” A Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh answers this question in an interview with Anne A. Simpkins on the 28th September 2001. During Wednesday Church we will be reflecting on his answer.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk in the Zen tradition, who worked tirelessly for peace during the Vietnam War, rebuilding villages destroyed by the hostilities. Following an anti-war lecture tour in the United States, he was not allowed back in his country and settled in France. In 1967, he was nominated by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is now internationally known for his teaching and writing on mindfulness, and for his work related to “socially engaged Buddhism,” a call to social action based on Buddhist principles. Thay, as he is affectionately called by his followers, shared his thoughts on how America should respond to the terrorist attacks.

John Wesley’s Three Simple rules

Join in the discussion of about these three simple rules that when taken seriously promise to turn our lives and world up-side-down.
Do No Harm
Do Good
Stay in Love with God

The starting point of our weekly discussions will be from Rueben Job’s book entitled: Three Simple Rules – A Wesleyan Way of Living.

16 March We reflect on Japan

Wednesday Church will be dedicated to prayer and reflection in response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We will be looking at questions like “Why do these things happen if God is all-loving and all-powerful?” And “Why pray?” 7pm in the Sanctuary.

The First Wednesday Church (26 January) we will be reflecting on the covenant commitment.

Welcome

April 22, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Welcome

Mission Statement

Central Methodist Mission is a City Church committed to Jesus Christ. We have been called out of division into community and seek to bring wholeness to each other and the world.

Vision Statement

1.     We will be an authentic Christian community:

  • that reflects the values of the Kin-dom of God
  • that contradicts divisions within our society

2.     We will be a welcoming community where we can feel free to work through our struggles and issues without judgment or manipulation

3.     We will encourage people to become followers of Jesus Christ by providing:

  • space to ask questions and struggle for answers
  • opportunities to learn more about the Christian faith
  • a supportive environment in which to live out the Christian faith

 

4.     We will actively seek God’s call on our lives and equip each other to live out this call in the church and the world

5.     We will provide pastoral care for each other and particularly for those with special needs

6.     We will continue to challenge social structures and values which cause injustice and suffering and we will seek to bring healing through a commitment to servanthood in our daily lives

7.     We will actively reach out to the wider community in order to introduce people to a relationship with Jesus and the family of God