Sunday, 31 January 2010

February 1, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 31 January 2010

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                 

 

At 6am this past Wednesday I was canoeing—doing my usual 10km stretch between 3 Anchor bay and Clifton.  It was slightly drizzly without a breath of wind.  The water was like glass.  A few hundred meters out I came across a seal enjoying an octopus for breakfast (the octopus was not enjoying!).  A little further out I saw two Southern Right whales and paddled right up close to them.  They were around 15m in length.  Huge animals—gently floating—powerfully blowing—and one waved at me with a vertical show of its enormous tale.  A few minutes later I saw some other whales that were slightly smaller and finally on my way back again as the sun was breaking through the morning cloud I almost bumped into the original two whales who were now swimming only about 150m off shore. 

 

This magical moment reminded me of psalm 19 that tells us how the beauty of God’s creation is ”day to day and night to night” preaching and proclaiming about God’s glory.  According to the psalmist, God’s creation/creatures preach loudly yet silently:

 

“There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” [Ps 19:3].

 

There were no words spoken in my encounter with the whales YET I was surrounded with a sense of God’s glory and the pure and rich gift of just being alive.   With gratitude, Alan.

 

Sunday, 24 January 2010

January 28, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 24 January 2010

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                           

filmul legend of the guardians: the owls of ga’hoole download

      

 

In two weeks time we celebrate Harvest Festival Sunday.  Traditionally Harvest Festival would have included parishioners bringing fresh produce from their own farms or plots to the church, but these days very few of us are tilling the soil in such a personal and fruitful manner.  Modern life is lived with an increasing detachment between people and creation.  We forget that we are dependent on the soil and in our forgetfulness we foolishly contaminate it.  Perhaps one way we celebrate Harvest Festival is to make a commitment to grow a little of our own fruit, vegetable or herbs if we are fortunate enough to have a little furrow of soil where we live. 

 

We are nevertheless encouraged to flood the front of the church with food (both fresh and non-perishables including potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, apples, cucumber, tomatoes, cauliflower, jungle oats, maize meal, weet-bix, peanut butter, baked beans and fishoil etc.) on Sunday the 7th February.

  Food that will be donated to Ons Plek, Stepping Stone and City Care.

 

During the same Harvest Festival Sunday we will all have an opportunity to pledge to live as an ever growing generous people.  We care invited to be deliberate in our generosity—not just towards the work of God in and through this place—but throughout all the world. 

Peace, Alan.

 

Sunday, 17 January 2010

January 17, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 17 January 2010

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                 

 

When Jesus sent out his disciples on their first missionary journey he instructed them, “…proclaim the good news, ‘The Kingdom of heaven has come near’.  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons…”  (Matt. 10:7-8). 

 

That is quite a mission statement!  I believe if Jesus were among us today he would say exactly the same to us….including “raise the dead”! 

 

I hope you will join me tonight as we wrestle with what this mission statement of Jesus means for us living in South Africa today and as members of this planet earth.  Tonight we will take time to reflect on where we have come from as a country and church community and where we trust God wants us to be.  Most importantly we will try and discern where we are right now.

 

I am sure you have seen those maps in the shopping malls, provided at the entrances.   The one area of those maps that are always highlighted is the place that flashes “you are here”. 

With the help of Scripture, tonight we hope to locate where we are as a nation, church and perhaps even where we are as individuals.   Come and see!!!

 

Peace, Alan.

 

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.