Sunday 30th January 2011

January 29, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday 30th January 2011

I was reminded this week again about how painfully difficult life is for some people.  That through no fault of their own they have suffered at the hands of others – be it sexual abuse when they were a child, or beatings by a father who would otherwise never speak to them, or the death of an intimate     partner, for the third time – “Whoever I love dies!”  At times, suffering seems to stalk some disproportionately more than others and it makes one want to yell at God and say, “Are you blind, or do you simply not care?”

This depth of pain is such that one does not “get over” it—ever!  One may be able to live with it in less debilitating ways and by time, work and grace may even live with it in life-giving ways—but it is always there living with us.

There is something very humbling about being in the presence of one who has suffered so much.  Perhaps because their lives have been taken beyond the trivial forever, never to return.  They literally do life at deeper depths.

What further moved me was that none of these people sounded like a victim.  Their language was free of bitterness and blame.  They had such a sense of ownership and responsibility to live life fully and freely.  Their life—though scarred—was still their life and they were determined to live it.

Thank you Lord for inspiring people!

Grace, Alan

The Salvation Equation

January 27, 2011  |  Videos  |  Comments Off on The Salvation Equation

Aha! We’re already on episode 2 of our ‘Not a Sermon… Just a Thought’ video series. This one speaks to the ‘Salvation Equation’, perhaps one of the strongest themes in all religions, not just Christianity. What does it take to be ‘saved’? People agonise over this question all day, individually, in church, and in community.

Grace + Faith = Salvation

We’ve come to believe grace and faith are the key components in the salvation equation. Would it perturb you to learn that the predominant teachings of faith are not what Jesus taught. Or, to take an even stronger position, they’re not even what Jesus expects? That’s what we tackle in this episode. I hope you find it engaging, and we would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Not a Sermon… Just a thought

January 24, 2011  |  Videos  |  Comments Off on Not a Sermon… Just a thought

We’re very excited to bring you the very first of hopefully many videos in our new video series, entitled ‘Not a Sermon… Just a thought’. We’ll be doing one a week at least – every Tuesday – and on some weeks, we will release a second video on Thursdays. This first week is a ‘special week’ in that we have a double header, but don’t hold us to over achieving just yet. Remember, we’re taking a slow walk here, friends.

Help!

This first video will serve as an introduction so you have a good sense of where we’re trying to go, and how we’d love to see you getting involved. We encourage commenting, and any feedback given will hugely appreciated. Furthermore if you have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered, please feel free to share in the comments section to. This is a communal project, and we hope you, the community, gets involved. Enjoy

Sunday 23rd January 2011

January 21, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday 23rd January 2011

Welcome everyone,

On the homepage you will notice that our annual Covenant Service takes place on the 30th January.  In order for us to prepare for this we are all invited to join together on Wednesday 26th (7pm – 9pm).  This will be our first Wednesday Church gathering and we will be reflecting on the Covenant prayer.

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.

Prayer Practice will be from 6:30pm7pm every Wednesday

Grace, Alan

Sunday 16th January 2011

January 18, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday 16th January 2011

Welcome everyone

I am not sure what decisions you have made about your life for this New Year, but one resolution that we should all have is to follow Jesus more faithfully – to trust in what he trusted in – to love what he loved – to be occupied with what  occupied him – to resist what he resisted, etc.  In order for us to follow Jesus and have faith in what Jesus had faith in, we need to be constantly growing in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus – learning about the way he lived and the way he calls us to live.

I have just planted a small garden and one thing I have been reminded of again is that plants are either growing or dying.  There is no in-between for plants.  It is growth or death!  I think we humans are not too different to plants – we too are either growing or dying.  So the question we need to ask ourselves is what are we doing to grow?  Where is our water and nutrient supply and are we getting enough sunlight?

To this end I want to invite you to seriously consider signing up for Connections (a 12- week course starting Sunday 30th January at 19:00).  If you have done it before—there is no harm in doing it again—because it WILL be different, not least because there will be a different group of people doing it.  This will also give you an opportunity to meet new people at CMM.   Or if you have done Connections then it may be time to try the DISCIPLE course (also starting end of January).

What I know about my own journey with Jesus is that when I am meeting weekly with other serious seekers of the way, the truth and the life – I grow and when I don’t I die a little.  It is as simple as that!  I want to encourage you to carve out some time this year for GROWTH…to journey with others in following Jesus.

Just do it!  Alan

Sunday 9th January 2011

January 11, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday 9th January 2011

Welcome everyone                   

At this time of the year we are encouraged to reflect on the journey of our life.  To  re-evaluate the road we are travelling on.  Is it a road of truth or falsehood?  A road of life or death?  A road of liberation or bondage?  With this in mind I share with you Portia Nelson’s poem, AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS…

[1]

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

[2]

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

[3]

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.

4]

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

[5]
 I walk down another street.

Sunday 2nd January 2011

January 2, 2011  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday 2nd January 2011

Welcome Everyone                                                                                                                          

Blessings on your first days of 2011! Now the celebrations are winding down. Most likely everyone is a bit exhausted by the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. But I have news for you: it’s not over.

Now the work of Christmas begins. 

Listen to theologian and poet Howard Thurman…

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring Christ to all,
To make music in the heart.

At CMM, we have many exciting plans underway for 2011. My prayer is that each of us will bring about the true work of Christmas collectively in our church community, and in our individual lives.

May we do the work of Christmas with music in our hearts!   Alan

Sunday 26th December 2010

December 29, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday 26th December 2010

Welcome everyone!

For unto us a child is born! In the Roman Catholic tradition, this day is the Feast of the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Many of us have probably spent a lot of time with our families over the last several days—possibly too much! Others of us might be separated from our families—by physical distance, by emotional scars—and are feeling that absence acutely. Today, you’re surrounded by the family we’ve created together as Central Methodist Mission. These words might help us remember what family means: 

“….We must carry with us mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and—please don’t forget—forgiveness. These virtues must be done out of love. Not always an easy task, but we are also called to be family to each other, and in strong families, these virtues are learned and encouraged. Family members—biological or not—remind us of these virtues, sometimes at the moments when we are least patient or when our tank of compassion is on empty.

Close your eyes and give thanks for the family that enriches your life, either the family into which you were born or the family you have found to support you, or, if you are doubly blessed, both of these communities. Close your eyes and consider how you are family to others. Close your eyes and celebrate the presence of God.”

(Judy Coode, Pax Christi USA)

With thanksgiving for family ties of many kinds….Alan

Sunday 19th December 2010

December 29, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday 19th December 2010

Welcome everyone                                                                                                                         

The busy-ness of the commercial side of the Advent Season distracts us from the real meaning of Advent – to reflect and be transformed by the amazing gift of God – His Son with us – Emmanuel!

Last Sunday we fed over 300 homeless people at a sit-down meal.  A Wonderful celebration, but a mere moment in their lives.  We have just ended the 16 days of activism:  trauma, hardship as well as death and injury still made headlines.  Many will not realize their God-given potential in life.  For many vulnerable people nothing seems to change. Joseph, Mary and Jesus were also vulnerable.  Yet this Jesus is the Son of God, who went on to engage with humankind and transform the lives of women, men and children. Joseph was vulnerable – homeless with an unmarried partner and baby.  He responded in “silent activism”.  He stood by Mary, he did not reject her (emotional abuse) harm her (physical abuse) or force himself on her (sexual abuse).  He helped her to be the mother of the Messiah against all the “customs and culture arguments,” that we so heartily defend.  Activism can also be making a stand from a position of vulnerability.

As we try to focus on the true meaning of advent, pray this prayer even if you yourself feel vulnerable. May God’s strength and grace be sufficient to help us bring peace and justice into our world.

The Grail Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I give you my hands to do your work.

I give you my feet to go your way.

I give you my eyes to see as you do.

I give you my tongue to speak your words.

I give you my mind that you may think in me.

I give you my spirit that you may pray in me.

Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me, your Father and all humankind.

I give you my whole self that you may grow in me so that it is you, Lord Jesus, who live and work and pray in me.

Peace, Gilbert.

Sunday 12th December 2010

December 29, 2010  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday 12th December 2010

Welcome everyone,                                                                              

How do we prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus – as Advent invites us to do?  Jesus, who spent so much of his time at table, talking, eating and sharing with his friends.  Table time was so much a part of Jesus’ life that we are encouraged to make it part of ours.  

Table Tuesdays is an initiative of www.lifetalk.co.za that invites every family to start having dinner together on a Tuesday (or other) evening.  It is very sad and serious that so many families no longer eat meals together, around a table, away from the TV and cell phone.  Life’s pressures take precedence and we’re fast losing our connection to each other.  But time doesn’t wait and suddenly years pass and precious moments and opportunities are lost forever.  Many studies show that teens who have frequent family dinners (five or more) compared to teens who have infrequent family dinners (two or fewer per week) are less likely to become addicted to drugs and abuse alcohol; are more likely to do better at school; are more emotionally content and have a much lower risk of suicide; have more positive peer relationships. 

Family mealtimes are a wonderful opportunity for communication and bonding, for learning about what’s going on in each other’s lives – and for conveying values. Children pick up language and vocabulary skills. There’s debate and laughter, and sharing of feelings, fears, successes, hopes and dreams. It’s a time when you can live in the moment, solve problems, enhance general knowledge, recharge batteries and take refuge from life’s hectic pace. Current challenges can be discussed and the best ways of dealing with aspects such as: alcohol, drugs, sex, bullying, peer pressure and safety can be explored. Family stories and anecdotes are passed on, self-esteem can be built and parental example provides role models on which our children can base their lives. The benefits are limitless and they act as a ‘life-jacket’ that helps children to cope with life’s inevitable challenges…. Alan