Transforming Discipleship

Transforming Discipleship

October 12, 2014  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Transforming Discipleship

Keeping Sabbath Holy

 Pause!  Rest! Remember!

Learn to say “NO”

Get into your diary first

 

Grace and peace to you

The following is an extract from our Presiding Bishop, Rev Zipho Siwa’s, Conference address:

“I call on Methodist people to encourage the culture of appreciation and acknowledging the good that God is doing through His people. I call for a culture of blessing and not cursing; a culture of painting God’s world with beauty and spreading a transforming fragrance. I call on all of us to engage in healing conversations and speaking transforming words even to the timid and the wayward. Words have power to create a new culture and build new people; a transforming trajectory and transformative discourse. Indeed we are called to be a transforming discipleship movement.

The basis of our calling:
Our conviction as people of faith is that our life together can be better and our calling is ‘to reclaim Jesus’s ancient and compelling vision of the common good’ (Jim Wallis). The common good has become very uncommon, writes Jim Wallis in his recent book ‘The (un)common good.’ In many areas of our existence, self-interest and fighting for political ideology has replaced finding solutions to problems in a genuine way. In so doing human beings continue to inflict pain, suffering and destruction on each other. Seeds of division are sown every day of our lives in different forms of actions and words. These seeds germinate and grow and when we least expect, it show up in families, communities, churches and nations causing unending devouring of each other.

What can be done and what does the Lord require?
It is a community that responds to the prophet Micah’s words in 6:8: “The Lord has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Justice, mercy and a humble walk with God are highlighted as the marks of a transforming discipleship movement…

It is possible to walk nicely and be a nice ‘church’ – but without God. The target of this transforming discipleship movement is not just doing nice things, planting new churches, or simply adding numbers and having a strong financial base, but transformation of persons and creation for a better social reality.

Pope Francis, in his address from St Peter’s Square on 18 May 2013 said; “Today’s world stands in great need of witnesses, not so much of teachers but rather witnesses. It’s not so much about speaking, but rather speaking with our whole lives.”

A story from Brazil told by Jim Wallis, illustrates this point well. A community of subsistence farmers were about to lose their land to a big Government project. No amount of engagement or protests helped. Instead protests were met with violence; even death.

Then when a final vote was to be taken a group of mothers went to the area where the senators lived. They sat on the lawns in big numbers. When the wives of the Senators came to offer them food, they refused, and when offered money, they did not take it. When asked, what then do you want? They said; “we have come here to die with our children. We see this place as a nice place to die.”

It was then that the wives of the senators listened to their story and began telling their own stories as mothers. Then telephones started ringing in the corridors of power. The weeping together of the women; sounded a call to the corridors of power. Justice prevailed. The vote was not taken as the senators rushed back home to listen to the weeping of their wives and in the process heard the weeping of the wives of the poor and understood the pain their votes would have caused.

The church of Christ weeps together for justice and liberation from all that dehumanises. It is a church without Christ that does not weep and it is easy to become a church without Christ.”

Grace, Alan

If you have been touched

October 10, 2014  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on If you have been touched

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.

Holy Friendship

Holy Friendship

October 5, 2014  |  Pentecost, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Holy Friendship

Grace and peace to you

If we are going to grow in faithfulness in the ways of Jesus – in other words in the ways of truth, gentleness, generosity, forgiveness, justice, purity of heart, humility, mercy and love, we will need help. We will need friends on the journey who will challenge and comfort and convict us at the appropriate times.

Below is an article written by Gregory Jones, the past Dean of Duke Divinity School, on this. He calls it, Holy Friendship. For the full article you can find it at www.faithandleadership.com by clicking on this link: Holy Friendship.

___________________________________________

“Holy friends challenge the sins we have come to love, affirm the gifts we are afraid to claim and help us dream dreams we otherwise would not dream.

It is nice to have friends and acquaintances who challenge sins we already hate; … but it doesn’t make a difference. What we really need are people around us who know us well enough to challenge the sins we have come to love. This is especially important because we often describe those sins we love in ways that make them sound understandable, even virtuous.

We need people who can help challenge the sins we have come to love, but if that is all they do, we most likely won’t enjoy having them around. Who needs a killjoy?

Holy friends also affirm the gifts we are afraid to claim. It is nice to have people affirm gifts we already recognize; such affirmation is flattering – but it is not news … Something transformative happens when someone helps us see potential in ourselves we cannot yet see …

This can be as unnerving as having sins we love pointed out to us. Who wants to lean into gifts we are afraid to claim? After all, isn’t there a reason we are afraid to claim them? Change is hard, but when others illumine hidden potential in our lives, and offer ongoing support as we lean into that potential, we discover hope, and are empowered to embody it.

These friends also help us dream dreams we otherwise would not dream. Sin and brokenness cause our lives and our imaginations to constrict. We don’t aim for much because we are haunted by the past or stuck in the comfortable mediocrity of the present.

Holy friends serve as vehicles of God’s reign to help us set our imaginations free for the future. Who knows what God might have in store for us – as individuals, for our communities, and for initiatives we may not yet have even conceived, much less embodied?

Holy friends help us envision and articulate the significance of Ephesians 3:20: “Now to [God] who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine …” How often do we believe that God’s power is at work within us, not only to accomplish all we can ask or imagine – which itself would be beyond what most of us dream of – but to accomplish “abundantly far more” than all we can ask or imagine?

Yet whether we are thinking of personal dreams – where youth in crisis discover that gangs and prison don’t have to define their lives, that they can become part of a flourishing community and have meaningful education, jobs and families – or institutional dreams – where networks of new institutions re-imagine life together for a city – holy friends help us dream dreams we otherwise would never dream.

In “Change or Die,” Alan Deutschman notes that people rarely change on the basis of the “three F’s”: facts, fear or force. He says it is the “three R’s” that enable people to change: relate, repeat and reframe.

Holy friends offer us ways to reframe our lives through challenging sins, affirming gifts and dreaming dreams. They help us repeat new activities as we lean into a new way of living our daily life, because it takes time to unlearn sin, to learn to claim gifts and to cultivate big dreams. And they offer paradigmatic new forms of relating that enable us to discover the hope to which we have been called.”

May each of us find a Holy Friend. May each of us be a Holy Friend.

Grace, Alan

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