Alan Storey in the USA

October 1, 2014  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Alan Storey in the USA
Alan was invited to bring the Word of God to various congregations and gatherings in the USA during September of 2014. Below are links (audio/video) to click on to hear/view what was shared.

14 September 2014: Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, Washington DC. Long Walk to Freedom.

16 September 2014: Wesley Theological Seminary (Tuesday Chapel Service) in Washington DC. Offering ourselves to God’s transforming work.

18 September 2014: Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary – in discussion with Rev. Dr. Kenneth Carder. Reflections on Context, Church, Christ.

21 September 2014: Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA teaching Manna and Mercy and focusing on the book of Revelation during Adult Sunday School. A Look at Revelation.

Parenting for God's Economy

Parenting for God’s Economy

September 28, 2014  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Parenting for God’s Economy

Or as the author of Hebrews put it:
“Jesus is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being.” Hebrews 1:3

__________________________________________

 

Grace and peace to you …

Over the last two weeks I have written a few thoughts about faith and finance. Finances are the “canary in the coalmine” when it comes to alerting us to whether we are following Jesus faithfully. Jesus himself says that what we do with our money reveals the location of our hearts: “For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” [Matt 6:21]

Below is an article written by Susan Taylor from the Faith and Money Network in which she helpfully discusses “Parenting for God’s Economy”:

__________________________________________

“In our materialistic culture, God-grounded parenting around money issues is a daily adventure, full of missteps and the occasional triumph.

My husband and I have learned to be (mostly) honest with our children about money. When I’m saying no to a request to purchase something or go somewhere, I almost never say, “We can’t afford that,” because that is rarely true. We could afford most anything we want to have or do. But that’s not the main criterion in making and modelling financial decisions.

I don’t want them to think we’re poor. I want them to understand that, as children of God, we’re inexpressibly rich. I want them to feel the joy and security of our abundance, of God’s abundance. So instead of saying, “We can’t afford it,” I say: “We’re choosing not to spend our money that way.” How much more empowering is that?

Sometimes we feel good about our parenting around money issues. Other things haven’t gone so well.

I’ve tried that much-prescribed method of dividing allowance into savings, spending and sharing. This simply doesn’t work for us. Somehow, all the pools get blended. Not only do our daughter’s savings get co-mingled with her sharing money, but somehow her money gets blended with her brother’s money occasionally.

Another persistent failure has been that the kids’ money is frequently not with us when we go to the store. So the negotiations go something like this: “I’ll buy this with my allowance money.” “Do you have that much money?” “Sure, mom.” “Okay, you can pay me back when we get home.” But when we get home, we’ve all lost track of the deal. Here, we’ve demonstrated using credit, not keeping track of our money, not preparing ahead for going to the store, and a long list of other bad money habits. I’m aware that we have more difficult and much more expensive lessons ahead.

As our children have matured, their understanding of the interrelationships within our global economy deepens. They now insist on shopping first at locally owned stores and the farmers’ market. They are convinced that fair trade chocolate tastes better than “regular” chocolate.

They know about these things because we talk about them. We explain why we’re shopping one place versus another. We’ve demonstrated being willing to put in a bit of extra effort to make a more just choice. As U.S. consumers demand ever-lower prices, we explain the cost to the people who make those products.

My best moment yet as a parent trying to teach faith and economics in this crazy culture happened recently. In the car, I was thinking of making the next light as my daughter looked out the window. As we passed the big-box “discount” store she quietly said, “Cheaper for whom?” My heart is still singing.”

__________________________________________

This is a wonderful illustration of what it means to be a Christian parent. It is more conscientising our children about justice than getting them to recite a creed.

Grace, Alan

Practise Generosity

Practise Generosity

September 21, 2014  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Practise Generosity

Unlike the mass extinction events of geological history, the current extinction challenge is one for which a single species – ours – appears to be  almost wholly responsible.

 

Grace and peace to you …

Last week, in this bulletin, we reflected on how generosity is the fruit of falling in love. But even though being generous is the most natural thing in all the world for the one in love it also takes practise.

For us to grow in our generosity, we are called to be deliberate. We are called to be as intentional about giving money as we are in earning money. For many of us, our generosity happens “reactively”. In other words we are generous if and when someone asks us for help, or on a Sunday during the offertory it depends on whatever we happen to have in our wallet at the time. This is haphazard. To leave our generosity (sign of love) up to “chance” in these ways is a poor sign of our loving gratitude toward Jesus. Rather our gratitude should be a planned priority of our life.

One way in which we can make generosity a planned priority in our love relationship with Jesus is:

  • We look into our hearts touched by the Love of Jesus, and prayerfully ask Jesus to help us to give joyfully, generously and sacrificially, that our giving may be a clear sign of our gratitude.
  • We pledge a monthly or weekly amount of money to wherever we feel called to partner Jesus in healing this world. CMM may be one of the many avenues your generosity takes.
  • We make our pledge remembering that disciples do not try and get away with giving the minimum, but rather, disciples try and give as much as they can.
  • We make this pledged amount a planned priority by setting it aside at the beginning of every month. Love does not give left overs but rather our first fruits.
  • We work out what percentage this pledged amount is in relation to our income. This is helpful because it means we can set a goal of increasing our generosity over time. It is not about being legalistic but it is about making generosity a planned priority.

Grace, Alan

One prayer I have never known Jesus NOT to answer is: “Jesus make me more generous”.

 

To love Jesus is to live generously

September 19, 2014  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on To love Jesus is to live generously

Last week we touched on the issue of generosity and how falling in love opens our hearts (and our purses) to those we love. To quote from last week’s letter: “As we grow to love Jesus, we naturally grow in generosity towards that which Jesus was passionate about in the world, especially enabling good news for the poor. Our giving and sharing are signs of our sincerity and commitment to Jesus. In short, to love Jesus is to live generously.”.

If you have been touched in anyway by the ministry of CMM – whether you are a regular visitor or member of the congregation, a traveler who stopped by or someone who finds value in the Sunday sermons on our website – then please consider contributing to our ministry so that we can continue to partner God in mending this broken world as Jesus calls us to do.

Our banking details are:
Name of Bank: First National Bank
Account Name: MCSA Central Methodist Mission
Account Number: 62126493204
Branch Name: Long Street
Branch Code: 201 709
Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ

Thank you always for supporting our ministry so generously.

Live generously

Live generously

September 14, 2014  |  Pentecost, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Live generously
Going backwards when we think we are going forwards.

Grace and peace to you …

The first thing that gets “touched” when we fall in love is our heart. The second is our wallet! This is true in all love relationships. Giving and sharing are the first signs of “being in love” with another person. To give and to share are the most natural things to do when we are in love.

The same applies to our relationship with Jesus. As we grow to love Jesus, we naturally grow in generosity towards that which Jesus was passionate about in the world, especially enabling good news for the poor. Our giving and sharing are signs of our sincerity and commitment to Jesus. In short, to love Jesus is to live generously. This is probably the easiest way we can see how much we love Jesus …

It begins with us looking at our hearts and not our pay slips (if we are fortunate enough to have a job). We do not have to be wealthy to be generous, but we do have to be loving. This means all of us, rich and poor alike can be generous. A generous life is rooted in the soil of gratitude. We love because God first loved us and we give because God first gave to us — and continues to give to us!

God is a generously giving God and because we have been born in God’s image we too are born to be generous. Generosity is part of our deepest identity — it is who we are designed to be.

This is a reminder of the gospel-call on each of our lives. We are first and foremost called to become the generous people Jesus longs for us to be. This may include supporting the work and ministry of this community and it may not — but it will certainly involve supporting the work of others somewhere, somehow, in strengthening the vulnerable, healing the sick, including the outcast and feeding the hungry, etc. If you believe that CMM contributes towards what Jesus is passionate about then I encourage you to include CMM as one of the many avenues in which your generosity may find expression.

Grace, Alan

Be foolish enough

Be foolish enough

September 7, 2014  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Be foolish enough

Grace and peace to you

Anthea and I first attended CMM in January 2013 following a painful journey of conditional acceptance and rejection at many churches. When the benediction was read I was struck by the phrase “and may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done,” it seemed like foolishness to believe that we, as a gay couple, could find a church community to serve, journey with and together make a difference in this world. So it was with the thought that we were being foolish that we turned up at the Donkey meeting that same week where we were welcomed without condition and afforded the opportunity to serve and be a part of this community.

Our time with CMM has provided healing and enabled us to re-remember that we are made in God’s image and are unconditionally loved by our creator who made us in love, for love and by love. We walked into CMM as strangers and have been healed by being known and knowing others. Every Sunday the faces of our young people change, there are new names to learn and pain or joy to share. If Jesus were to walk into our church on a Sunday we would hang around after the service to shake his hand, to know him and be known. I would urge each person at CMM to embrace our young people and in so doing bring life into the prayer of foolishness we pray each week.

Till my next visit, Sarah

Artwork: © 2011 Daniel Erlander Publications

________________________________________________

We believe in the Merciful One

who calls us to reject all idols and who seeks a deep communion with us.

We believe in the Merciful One

who is not remote but who is immersed in the life of this world sharing its hope and feeling its pain.

We believe in the Merciful One

who identifies with the poor and the oppressed and those who long for faith and who calls us to stand with them.

We believe in the Merciful One

whose love is vulnerable, whose heart is aching and whose covenant with all people
is unshakeable.

Christian Conference of Asia News1

The poverty of wealth

The poverty of wealth

August 31, 2014  |  Pentecost, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on The poverty of wealth

Grace and peace to you …

During the early hours of Tuesday morning a terrible thing happened in this city. A driver — allegedly drunk — lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the Viglietti sports car showroom on Roeland Street. What makes this story so tragic is that a homeless person who was sleeping in front of the showroom was crushed to death in the process.

This sad event is a tragic parable for our times. And as with all parables there are layers upon layers of meaning and, in this case, layers of tragedy.

The first layer is that we live in a world where cars get to sleep inside while some human beings sleep outside. We live in a world where motor vehicles are of more value than human beings — and I am not just referring to Ferraris and Maseratis. We live in a world where the combination of metal, glass, rubber and leather are treated as more sacred than flesh and blood stamped with the image of God.

The second is that we live in a world where obscene wealth and desperate poverty lie down together side-by-side. Every time I drive past this particular showroom at night I see this glaring truth glow guiltily before my eyes. Sports car and homeless separated by a see-through pane of glass. We dare not plead ignorance.

The third is that we live in a world where the poor are the victims of our way of life that has gotten out of control. We are drunk (although we deny it) consuming way too much and the poor pay for our reckless living with their lives.

The fourth is that we live in a world where the poor are seen but not acknowledged or known. They remain anonymous. In the article I read about this event it was so sad to read that nobody knew the deceased’s name. We are trying to see if we can host a memorial service for him.

Grace Alan

________________________________________________

We believe in the Merciful One

who calls us to reject all idols and who seeks a deep communion with us.

We believe in the Merciful One

who is not remote but who is immersed in the life of this world sharing its hope and feeling its pain.

We believe in the Merciful One

who identifies with the poor and the oppressed and those who long for faith and who calls us to stand with them.

We believe in the Merciful One

whose love is vulnerable, whose heart is aching and whose covenant with all people
is unshakeable.

Christian Conference of Asia News1

Dancing Jubilee

Dancing Jubilee

August 24, 2014  |  Pentecost, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Dancing Jubilee

Grace and peace to you …
At Artscape last Sunday afternoon I had the privilege of attending a function to celebrate Cecil Jacobs’ life of dance. Cecil has taught dance (and a host of school subjects) in the garage and lounge of his and Brenda’s home for the past 50 years. Amazing! Not for money or for show, but for the love of the art of human movement, rhythm and discipline. All the while trusting it would be a means of grace within the lives of his young students. Cecil wouldn’t only teach his students to balance perfectly on their toes, but also to work out how to balance their living surrounded by much imbalance in their homes and communities. In a world that sometimes seems to be spinning out of control Cecil would help his students to pirouette with finesse, reminding them that they themselves can be the beauty among the chaos.

I was reminded again that Resurrection happens in many different ways. The pushing back of death by new life sometimes takes three days but sometimes it takes a generation. Cecil himself was never allowed to perform on the stage of the then Nico Malan Theatre Centre (renamed Artscape in 2001) but many of his students have done so – dancing to the new drum beat of democracy.

We gathered to honour Cecil on reaching this jubilee milestone, but in fact the real jubilee (biblically speaking) is how through his teaching he has liberated so many to reach a deeper and more meaningful life over the years. Jubilee is all about liberation. We are called to be a Jubilee people and a Jubilee Church.

Thank you Cecil and Brenda for your ministry. You have reminded me of Frederich Beuchner’s glorious definition of vocation: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Grace, Alan

________________________________________________

We believe in the Merciful One

who calls us to reject all idols and who seeks a deep communion with us.

We believe in the Merciful One

who is not remote but who is immersed in the life of this world sharing its hope and feeling its pain.

We believe in the Merciful One

who identifies with the poor and the oppressed and those who long for faith and who calls us to stand with them.

We believe in the Merciful One

whose love is vulnerable, whose heart is aching and whose covenant with all people
is unshakeable.

Christian Conference of Asia News1

 

 

Robin Williams & The Gospel

Robin Williams & The Gospel

August 17, 2014  |  Pentecost, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Robin Williams & The Gospel

GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU…

On hearing of Robin Williams’ death this past week I was catapulted back in time to many a movie which had brought me to tears. Tears of laughter yes, but mostly tears resulting from being touched in the most tender of places — where dreams and fears mingle unguarded. Williams’ humour was more about redemption than about being funny. With every turn of phrase he sought to redeem our pain, tragedy and loss.

There are five movies that stand out for me: Dead Poets’ Society; Good Will Hunting; Good Morning Vietnam; Patch Adams and the Fisher King. In each Williams plays the part of a wounded healer or redeemer. He was a vulnerable-clownish-rulebreaking-crackpot-Christ figure.

In Dead Poets’ Society he teaches students to think for themselves and to pursue their deepest passions outside the narrow scripts of their pushy parents or the stuck-up establishment. “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” He got them to stand on their desks to view the world from a different perspective and to seize the day because “believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.”

In Good Will Hunting he mentored Will through his fears to face himself: “You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally… I don’t give a [expletive] about all that, because you know what, I can’t learn anything from you, I can’t read in some [expletive] book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t want to do that do you sport? You’re terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.” And he helped Will risk the delight of love: “You’ll never have that kind of relationship in a world where you’re afraid to take the first step because all you see is every negative thing 10 miles down the road.” … “You don’t know about real loss because it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much … “

In Patch Adams he spoke boldly to the medical profession: “You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.” And he challenged our views on death. “What’s wrong with death sir? What are we so mortally afraid of? Why can’t we treat death with a certain amount of humanity and dignity, and decency, and God forbid, maybe even humor. Death is not the enemy gentlemen. If we’re going to fight a disease, let’s fight one of the most terrible diseases of all, indifference.”

In Good Morning Vietnam we were reminded that the first casualty in war is always the truth:
Censor #1:[Adrian sees the story about the bombing that he witnessed and he starts taking it to the control room, going past the two censors.] What do you think you’re doing? You know you’re forbidden to read anything not checked by this office.
Adrian Cronauer: What was there to check? I was there.
Censor #1: You know the rules, airman. If this is a legitimate news story, it must go through proper channels.
Adrian Cronauer: Look, tweedledee, it’s an actual event. [Referring to the blood on his shirt.]
Adrian Cronauer: What do you think this came from? Shaving? It’s the truth. I just want to report the truth. It’ll be a nice change of pace.
Sgt. Major Dickerson: What’s going on here?
Adrian Cronauer: Sir, will you listen to me?
Sgt. Major Dickerson: [Reads the story.] This is not official news, airman. As far as I’m concerned, it didn’t happen.
Adrian Cronauer: It did happen.
Sgt. Major Dickerson: You shut your mouth!
Adrian Cronauer: What are you afraid of Dickerson? People might find out there’s a war going on?
Sgt. Major Dickerson: This news is not official.
Adrian Cronauer: RIGHT! In… in Saigon today, according to official sources, nothing actually happened. One thing that didn’t officially happen was a bomb didn’t officially explode at 1430 hours, unofficially destroying Jimmy Wah’s cafe.

In the profoundly brilliant Fisher King, guilt ridden radio DJ (Jeff Bridges) and grief stricken homeless person (Robin Williams) meet each other within the surprising embrace of friendship and forgiveness. In the end both are healed to risk loving and being loved again.

I give thank for Robin Williams modern portrayals of the gospel.

Grace, Alan

What is right is never impossible

What is right is never impossible

August 10, 2014  |  Pentecost, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on What is right is never impossible

1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761-1804) and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray (1760-1825)

 

The 1779 painting is attributed to an unknown artist. It hung in Kenwood House until 1922. It currently hangs at Scone Palace in Perthshire, Scotland. It was one of the first European portraits to portray a black subject on an equal eye-line with a white aristocrat.

____________________________________________

I went to see the movie Belle showing at the Labia the other day. It is a period movie of historical fiction touching on the issues of love, racism, sexism, classism and slavery in nuanced fashion. The movie was inspired by a 1779 painting, which was one of the first European portraits to portray a black subject on an equal eye-line with a white aristocrat.

The movie begins with Royal Navy Officer, Captain Sir John Lindsay, who on finding his daughter Dido Belle living in poverty, takes her to the home of his uncle Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice who lived at Kenwood House estate in London. Dido Belle is the “illegitimate” mixed-race daughter of Lindsay who was born in the West Indies. Though the social mores of the time make Dido an outsider, she is educated and raised in the Mansfield home as an aristocrat alongside her cousin Elizabeth.

I won’t say any more about the movie except to share with you the opening dialogue between Captain Sir John Lindsay (Dido Belle’s father) and Lord Mansfield as the Captain attempts to persuade the Chief Justice to open his home and heart to Belle despite her colour:

Captain Sir John Lindsay: “I beg you, uncle. Love her as I would were I here and ensure that she is in receipt of all that is due to her as a child of mine.”

Lord Mansfield: “Do you have in mind my position?”

Lady Mansfield: “That is simply impossible.”

Captain Sir John Lindsay: “What is right can never be impossible.”

Lady Mansfield: “What shall she be named?”

Captain Sir John Lindsay: “Dido Belle Lindsay.”

Lord Mansfield: “She takes your name?”

Captain Sir John Lindsay: “I am not ashamed.”

“What is right can never be impossible.” Wow! what a hopeful and challenging statement. Too often too many of us throw up our hands exclaiming: “But that’s impossible!” I myself want to grow to trust this statement so that I will be more inclined to focus on the rightness of something rather than its possibility. Let’s trust if it is right, it is possible.

Grace Alan