The horror of hunger

The horror of hunger

December 20, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on The horror of hunger

Each week after we have shared in the benediction I walk to the doors to be available to shake hands with you as you leave. Last Sunday after we had spoken the words of our disturbing benediction (printed below) I was met by a young man who spoke earnestly into my ear.  He looked like he had slept rough the night before — perhaps he was homeless I am not sure — I had not seen him before.  He was asking me for something.  I thought he was asking me for money — and I was about to tell him that I don’t do that — when he even more earnestly repeated his request.  This time I heard him clearly. “Pastor please give me the left over bread on the table over there.” He was referring to the remainders of the bread from Holy Communion. I was reminded again of the horror of hunger that companions so many people in this beloved country!  And the words of our Benediction of discomfort echoed again …

 May God bless us with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our heart.

May God bless us with anger,
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears,
To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness,
To believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.

Amen.

Remember that we always are need of volunteers after each worship service to help serve Sunday Lunch at the service dining hall on Canterbury Street.

Mary

December 14, 2011  |  Videos  |  Comments Off on Mary

A different interpretation on the story of the Virgin Mary.

SABC Radio Broadcast - Lazarus and the Rich Man

SABC Radio Broadcast – Lazarus and the Rich Man

December 10, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on SABC Radio Broadcast – Lazarus and the Rich Man

Earlier this year we had a sermon broadcast on SAFM – one of the SABC’s radio stations. This sermon – entitled Lazarus and the Rich Man – was recently rebroadcast, and we have received a few requests for a link to the sermon. You can download the sermon using the download link provided below.

Download Sermon

You can download other sermons by accessing our sermon archive:

Visit archive

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Credit: Image by Mr. Kris, used under creative commons license.

An African Nativity by Harry Sitole

An African Nativity by Harry Sitole

December 8, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on An African Nativity by Harry Sitole

The Christmas Day Service is at 10 a.m.
New Year’s Eve Reflection and Communion is between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
New Year’s Day Service is at 10 a.m.

Advent Emancipation

Advent Emancipation

December 6, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Advent Emancipation

On the 1st Dec. 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 Dec 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]

This past week we celebrate (though very late) the new Government plan to counter the AIDS epidemic and thank God for those who persevered in struggle. Let us assist and get ourselves tested  – trusting that the truth will set us free.  Advent Emancipation.   Alan

Advent and the secrecy bill

Advent and the secrecy bill

November 27, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Advent and the secrecy bill

This past Tuesday I went to the National Assembly and witnessed the passing of the Secrecy Bill.  To see MPs voting as slaves to their party rather than as servants of the people was sad — the notable inspiring exception being Gloria Borman.  But as Upton Sinclair said: “It is difficult to get a man [sic] to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”   The Secrecy Bill goes against what we know to be true about the human condition and that is when we mess up — we cover up.  Adam and Eve taught us that. And therefore laws should make it more difficult to cover up and not easier.  Laws should encourage people to be whistle-blowers of the truth rather than threaten to criminalise the truth-teller.  Let us stay awake….

In the evening I bore witness to another meeting — this time in Khayelitsha and of mostly young     people.  The venue was very different to parliament’s plushness and that was not the only difference.  The conversation was defiantly hope-full.  I listened to people dream of “one Cape Town” and declare that they “cannot wait for government to deliver” so they must “deliver themselves – through education” and I listened to speakers   encourage young people to become “lawyers for the poor”.  How the crowd appreciated being seen as a generation full of potential rather than a lost generation.  Today is the first Sunday of Advent — a day of hope-filled expectation.  For me Advent started on Tuesday evening.    Alan

Gospel economics

Gospel economics

November 27, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Gospel economics

In the sermon last week we reflected on Gospel Economics as revealed to us through Jesus’ parable of the talents found in Matthew 25. The popular interpretation of this parable encourages us to not waste the gifts that God has given us and advises us to work hard.  Simply put: “God helps those who help themselves” (which by the way is not in the Bible).  But as we discussed last week (if you missed it you can listen to it at www.cmm.org.za ) it may well have been a peasant’s protest against the harsh master of economic inequality — who gave more to those who have, and took away from those who have little, leaving them with nothing.

In this light let me share some facts about South African income groups as printed earlier this year in the Business Report of the Cape Times:

24 060 179 people earn between R0-50k p/a

3 206 445 people earn between R50-100k p/a

3 489 549 people earn between R100-300k p/a

789 744 people earn between R300-500k p/a

304 767 people earn between R500-750k p/a

217 570 people earn R750k or more p/a

No wonder we are known as one of the most unequal countries in the world.   Alan

Our spirituality is revealed through our finances

Our spirituality is revealed through our finances

November 27, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Our spirituality is revealed through our finances

It is that time of year again — when we work on CMM’s budget for next year.  It is my hope that the budget will somehow honour God’s dream and answer God’s prayer for the people of this city.

I remember being taught that if you want to really see what a congregation believes in —  just ask to see the church financials.  We know that this is also true for individuals — maybe this is why we are so secretive about money matters.  Somehow we know that what we do with our money reveals the heart of our heart.  Money matters expose us and reveal us for who we truly are and not just who we say we are.  Jesus knew this to be true — he said: “Wherever you treasure it — your heart is there also.”  Money is like a GPS that automatically points out the location of our heart.

Join me in praying that in our budget planning for 2012 we allocate CMM’s money to draw us and others closer to God’s heart!  God’s dream and prayer is always about the vulnerable being cared for — the captives being released and the poor receiving good news, and so our budget should have this focus too.

It is also a good time for us to reflect on what our personal money matters say about the positioning of our hearts.  May God give us hearts that are grateful (and not resentful) for every opportunity to be generous in this life.

Alan

Preventing atheism with sarcastic bites

Preventing atheism with sarcastic bites

November 27, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Preventing atheism with sarcastic bites

What is the best way to stop your child becoming an atheist?  Here is someone’s answer.  Be warned, the sarcasm bites!  But maybe the bite will wake us up a bit…

“The best way to stop your child becoming an atheist is to not educate them, or expose them to critical thinking, logic or science.  Lie to them constantly about how the world works. … Make them loathe their own natural bodies and functions. Convince them they are small and weak and worthless and need redemption.  Tell them everything enjoyable is grievously wrong to even think about, and that their only fun should be in grovelling to an invisible friend. Ensure that they resent anyone who is not like them in every way — skin colour, nationality, political opinion but especially creed. Make such people out to be evil and vile and give them — impotent minorities — all the fictional power to somehow oppress and persecute the vast majority who think like you.  Teach them to laugh at and dismiss out of hand any faith but their own. … Instruct them with all severity and import to never question for themselves — to never think for themselves …”

It is maybe because so many Christians have lived out this sarcastic portrayal that others have decided to be atheists. If this is what it means to be a Christian then I am sure even Jesus would prefer us to be atheists.

Alan

 

Sustainability vs Over-Consumption

Sustainability vs Over-Consumption

November 27, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sustainability vs Over-Consumption

During the time of Jesus the world population was around 300 million. It reached a billion in around 1800. The 2nd billion in 1927.  The 3rd billion in 1959. The 4th in 1974. The 5th in 1987. The 6th in 1999 and now tomorrow we reach 7 billion.

There is not doubt that the issue of population growth is an important social issue, but I believe we can use it as a scapegoat to save us from dealing with the single most important issue that threatens our sustainability on this planet — namely our over-consumption.

Ironically, it seems that the richer we are the more likely we are to blame population growth for the social and environmental troubles of our day. Yet the richer one is, the more one consumes and the more one is a burden to life on the planet.

Here are some facts: “An extra child born today in the United States, would, down the generations, produce an eventual carbon footprint seven times that of an extra child in China, 55 times that of an Indian child or 86 times that of a Nigerian child.”

Oh Lord help us to consume less!  Alan