Mountains and Valleys

Grace and peace to you …

Following on from last week’s sermon about mountains and valleys being joined at the hip we noted that because they shared the same landscape that we couldn’t have one without the other. After last week’s service I had a number of people use the metaphor of mountains and valleys to let me know where they are in their life or at least in which direction they felt their life was moving.

I have been thinking about this mountain and valley stuff in the last few days. I wonder if the following statement holds any water for you: It may not be obvious to us that we are moving from the mountain into the valley or from the valley up the mountain. Why not?

Well you see, when we walk down a mountain our head is normally held high as we breathe in the breadth of the view stretching to the horizon. As we marvelling at the view we may not notice that we are actually walking down and down into the valley – until of course we have no more vision of a glorious view and only then do we suddenly realise we are off the mountain and in the valley. Equally, when we are walking out of the valley up the mountain our heads are often down and our view is of the soil and rock a meter in front of us. Nothing changes step after step, until all of a sudden a single step settles us on the summit or if not summit then at least some lookout area on which we can turn around and see how far we have come and how high we have climbed.

When I lived in Johannesburg I would leave early in the morning and drive to work along Oxford Road turning into Corlett Drive and the sun would pierce my morning eyes. As I drove down into the valley of Corlett Drive before turning onto the M1 highway the sun would have disappeared and I would sometimes have to put on my headlights because of how dark it was. This reminded me that just because I was in the dark, it didn’t mean that the sun had stopped shining. This really is the challenge during the mountain and valley experiences of our living: To remember the light in the darkness and to hold onto the vision in the valley.

This Lent we are invited to contemplate the Light that it may guide us even when we only see darkness.

Grace, Alan


These two quotes were referred to during Alan’s sermon on February 7, 2016:

“When we are young and hear longing and
sadness in love songs, we think that the sadness
and disappointment are a prelude to the
experience of love and not really the result of its
experience. Later, with a deeper experience,
we realise that the sadness, longing, and
disappointment ultimately originate not from the
fact that love has not taken place but that human
love is finite. This insight helps us realise that the
first task in any love, whether in a marriage or in
a deep friendship, is for the two persons to console
each other for the limits of their love, for the fact
that they cannot not disappoint each other.”
~ Ronald Rolheiser

“A relationship is like a long trip and there’s
bound to be some long dull stretches.
Don’t travel with someone who expects
you to be exciting all the time.”
~ Daniel Berrigan

Let us be still

Grace and Peace to you,

Along with fasting from wasting water this Lent we may consider fasting from wasting words. Yes, a water and word fast!

Barbara Brown Taylor in her book: When God is silent writes: “How shall I break the silence? What word is more eloquent than the silence itself? In the moments before a word is spoken, anything is possible. The empty air is a formless void waiting to be addressed.”

Such is the power of words. Anything is possible.

She continues, “…the most dangerous word God ever says is Adam. All by itself it is no more than a pile of dust – nothing to be concerned about, really – but by following it with the words for image and dominion, God sifts divinity into that dust, endowing it with things that belong to God alone. When God is through with it, this dust will bear the divine likeness. When God is through with it, this dust will exercise God’s own dominion – not by flexing its muscles but by using its tongue. Up to this point in the story, God has owned the monopoly on speech. Only God has had the power to make something out of nothing by saying it is so. Now, in this act of shocking generosity God’s stock goes public… human beings endowed by God with the power of the Word… This power of ours has no safety catch on it. We are as likely to make nothing out of something as the other way around…”

We all know how words can bring life or death because we have had such words spoken to us. This Lent let us watch our words. Let us not waste our words on trivialities and gossip. May we only speak words that bring life and fast from all words that bring death. If our words will not improve on the silence let us be still…

Grace, Alan


LENT 2016: Water Fast

In LENT we are invited to fast. To fast is to live with limits. The first fast was given as Divine instruction for daily living in the Garden of Eden: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” To live without limits is to die. To fast is to live. To fast is to bring life.

This LENT, in the year of one of South Africa’s worst droughts, let us fast – live with limits – in relation to water. Perhaps our water fast will help us to hear Jesus’ crucifying cry: “I thirst” more acutely. This is the cry of an ever-increasing number of people.

This is how we generally use water on a daily basis: about a third is for toilet-flushing, a third for body hygiene and another third for laundering, washing the dishes, cooking and drinking. For cooking and drinking we need about 5 litres per day.

This LENT let’s limit ourselves to a maximum of 50 litres of water per day – remembering that there are many in our land who are forced to live on much less.

A Few Water Saving Tips

  1. Turn the tap off when you brush your teeth – this can save 6 litres of water per minute.
  2. Place a cistern displacement device in your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water used in each flush (a one litre bottle filled with water works well).
  3. Take a shorter shower. Showering can use anything between 6 and 45 litres per minute.