Sunday, 27th December 2009

Jan 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.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Christmas Day

Jan 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.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sunday, 20th December 2009

Jan 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


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sunday, 13th December 2009

Dec 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


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sunday, 6th December 2009

Dec 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.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Dec 1, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 29 November 2009


Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                


On the 1st December 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 December 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


Sadly Wilberforce’s words are painfully relevant for the 1st December 2009 in South Africa as we continue to live through “so long a disgrace and dishonour” of HIV / Aids.  Many still long for freedom!    Alan.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Nov 24, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 22 November 2009

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                


On my way home from Seattle, a week or so ago, I stopped over at my uncle’s place in New Jersey—a welcome “halfway house” that breaks the long flight home. 


Amazing how as our days get longer theirs become shorter.  It was getting dark at around 4:30 in the afternoon!  On one of the chilly evenings my uncle had the great idea of making a fire in the lounge fire place.  It was the first he had made since the previous winter.  A few minutes after lighting the fire I was startled by the sound of a piercing alarm going off within the house.  I didn’t know what it was.  I ran downstairs into a thick choking smoke.  I thought the house was on fire, only to discover that the reason for the smoke was due to the fact that my uncle had forgotten to open the flue  of the chimney which had been closed for the summer.  It was only after the flue was opened (and nearly every window in the house) that we found some relief and the alarm stopped screaming. 


I received this as a parable for my life:  For my living to bring life-giving warmth and not death-choking smoke, I need to open my flue-like heart to the God-filled heavens.   This will happen through prayer or I fear it will not happen at all.  A prayer-less life—not open to the heavens—pollutes the earth. 

Let us pray…..   Peace, Alan. 


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Nov 24, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 15 November 2009

Dear Friends,                                                                                               


Welcome everyone!  And a special welcome to Rev. Tim Attwell.  Just to let you know, Tim retired last week and when I called him a few months ago to ask whether he was available to preach today—he answered: “Yes I am free!”  I will leave it up to you to decide what he meant!  But thank you Tim for agreeing to preach one week after your retirement—it is a joy and privilege to have you here today helping us to celebrate the 130th Anniversary of the dedication of this building, way back on the 12 November 1879. 


Looking back over some of the records of this glorious sanctuary I came across its measurements.  “The spire is 46 m high and the nave 20 m high,   while the width is 18 m and is 34 m in length”.  That is an impressively high ceiling—surely hoping that we will have a sense of the High and Holy in our midst and reminding us of the Heights of God’s endless glory. 


It reminds me that in the early part of last century “Polish synagogues were built below the ground—like caves.  The reason for this was because the State prohibited synagogues to be built as high as churches.  But the Jews refused to have their reverence diminished by building codes.  The vaulted ceilings were still built; the congregation simply prayed deeper underground.”  (From: Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels).   Our high ceiling was built 130 years ago, now it is for us to pray deeper.  This is the core of our calling and our most pressing need on our journey towards future faithfulness! 

Peace, Alan. 


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Nov 24, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 8 November 2009

Dear Friends,                                                                               


Welcome everyone!  A special welcome to Dr. Gilbert Lawrence who will be preaching this morning.  Thank you Gilbert. 


I am in Seattle this weekend preaching this morning (well later in the afternoon your time) at Bethany United Church.  I have been teaching for the past few days together with my father (the first time we have ever done some joint-teaching) at the Seattle University.


I will be back in time for the Flower Festival on Friday/Saturday—so I hope to see you all then, as well as on Sunday when we celebrate the 130th anniversary of this Sanctuary. 


Just thinking about the long history of the Methodist Church both here and at Buitenkant Street makes me wonder where we will be a few years from now.  Tell you the truth I don’t have a clue, but I trust that together we will find the way of faithfulness by the Light God gives us.  As we continue the journey together I am reminded of the motto of the son of a friend of mine, who when he was head boy of his School last year, his rallying cry was: “The guts to dream and the will to work”.  I do not know where we will end up but I do know that if we are to step into the Light that God gives us it will take guts and work….and I would just add, “the gratitude of joy that comes from friendship with Jesus…” will be given us. 

To the future,  Alan.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sunday, 01 November 2009

Nov 3, 2009  |  Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Sunday, 01 November 2009

Dear Friends,                              


Pippi Långstrump på de sju haven


Fighting with Anger hd


Christmas Holiday video

The Ringer release          

Eye of the Beholder divx


Welcome!  In two weeks time we will celebrate the 130th anniversary of the dedication of this building way back on the 12 November 1879.  Even though we know that the Church is more about a community than a building—this moment invites us nevertheless to celebrate the beauty embodied within the majestic architecture of this amazing sanctuary.  Shallow Grave move

Party Monster download

Inglourious Basterds trailer


We only have to read the daily comments written in the visitor’s book from people all around the world to appreciate the gift of this building to so many.  Almost every comment overflows in wonder at the beauty of this place. 

Tarzan Finds a Son! hd


Run Silent Run Deep divx

I want to salute those who have over the years participated in OPEN DOORS which allows people every day to come and sit and rest a while in this sanctuary—to gather in a quiet space—and to be touched by a prayer-full silence that freely offers everyone a small gift of the sacred.  We will never know the significance of this OPEN DOORS ministry!  Thank You for Smoking download

Year of the Dog film


Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story trailer

I invite us to take some time this morning to gather in the beauty of this place and then even more importantly to gather in all what God has done within our lives as a result of being connected to this place.  May our glad hearts show their gratitude on anniversary Sunday (15th November) with great generosity. 

Albino Farm psp


Peace, Alan

download You Dont Mess with the Zohan movie

  The 007 Living Daylights movie download


Print Friendly, PDF & Email