This past week I came across two quotes that touched me:
“Whenever I meet a Buddhist leader, I meet a holy person. Whenever I meet a Christian leader, I meet a manager.” – O Guiness, quoting a Japanese business person.
“I wake early and sit in bed with a cup of tea and think. Not about anything in particular, it is my way of untangling the chaos in my head and establishing a sense of peace and order for the day ahead. I do this every day for half an hour, and then I meditate for twenty minutes. It’s a routine I’ve got into since I was ill. I don’t know how or why it works. I just know that it does.! – atheist author Sally Brampton.
The first quote reminds me of the deepest and most important call upon our lives. First and foremost we are called to be a holy people. Long before we are called to be effective and efficient we are called to be a people with pure hearts. Holy, not as in prudish but as in truth-full.
The second quote reminds me that we all (atheists included!) need daily habits of silent reflection, meditation – what I would call daily devotions or prayer. The difference to the quote above is that we are invited to be deliberate about what we think about. We are invited to reflect on the life and teachings of Jesus and how they connect with our lives and world. We too may not understand how, or why it works but “I just know that it does”. If Sally Brampton can take 50min a day in “daily devotions” I feel challenged to do the same. How about you? Alan
It is great to have Dr. Gilbert Lawrence sharing the Good News with us this morning. Thank you in advance Gilbert for the gifts you bring to us.
In these Resurrection days I remind you of theologian, Morton Kelsey’s insight into the significance of the Resurrection that literally turns our understanding of the world up-side down:
“On the first Easter morning the disciples were suddenly confronted with a world in which God was more powerful than the Temple, or Rome, or any other power … Of course part of them rejoiced in the hope that Jesus had risen, but still more of them were stupefied, paralysed with fear. The world was the way Jesus had described it. They had never quite believed him … If it were true, … then they had built their lives on all the wrong assumptions. If the Resurrection is true, then this world is not what it seems to be, and I may be called to follow the way of love revealed in this event.”
Easter affirms that the world is the way Jesus described it. This means that the truly blessed ones in this world are the ones who Jesus calls blessed and not the ones who Fortune Magazine or Vanity Fair call blessed.
Blessed are the poor and lowly. The marginalised and disadvantaged – the ones who always come last. The just and gentle. The humble and merciful. The non-judgemental and the joyfully sacrificial. The mourners who are not left cold by death. The truth tellers and pure in heart. The failing who try again and the generous who give again and again. The blessed are the prayers on their knees and prophets on their feet. The lover of enemies and forgiver of wrongdoers 70×7. The ones who worry not what clothes they wear having considered the lilies clothed in Godly splendour. The child who shares bread and fish with a crowd way to big and a convicted thief who asks for the one thing he couldn’t steal – to be remembered in love.
Welcome to everyone who is visiting CMM for the first time today. Be at home!
It is my prayer that as we celebrate the Raised Jesus among us we will experience with fresh faith the power of God to raise even us from the dead to new and abundant life. For is it not true that many of us live in tombs? Tombs of despair, bitterness, cynicism, jealousy, selfishness, pride, fear, prejudice…. Tombs that we are unable to free ourselves from. Tombs that need God to roll the stone away. May God reach us with rescue—with resurrection rescue today!
How? You ask. Well Sydney Carter writes in a poem: “No revolution will come in time to alter [a] person’s life except the one surprise of being loved.” Resurrection rescue happens when we are surprised by being loved. Loved fully by one who knows us completely. So hear the good news—you are precious beyond measure, beautiful beyond description, chosen and claimed by the One who knit you together in love, by love and for love. You are forever celebrated and enjoyed by God—the God who comes to save and not condemn—the God who has forgiven you in advance—the God who has rolled the stone away that you may have new life. Now go and surprise others with this same love. Alan
The author of Mark’s Gospel has a reputation for being in a hurry. So much so that he skips out the birth narrative of Jesus preferring to start his story by fast forwarding to the adult Jesus’ baptism. And then he proceeds to describe Jesus’ baptism and 40 day wilderness temptations in just three verses! Mark’s rushed reputation is justified!
This is all the more reason to take note at how the author of Mark’s Gospel slows down during that terrifying week we now call Holy. Even he takes time to pause before the agonising suffering of Jesus.
I hope we will all follow this example and take time to pause in these coming days. Let us commit to marking each day of this week with some extra act of deliberate devotion. Perhaps getting up earlier than usual in the morning to pray or to awake in the middle of the night for a few minutes reflection or at 12noon to read the scriptures. Perhaps we may decide to reach out with a specific act of compassion, generosity or forgiveness this week to someone we know who is in need or who is estranged from us. In the very least we could commit to attending the evening reflections every night this week at 7pm—perhaps coming a little earlier to sit “slowly” in silence.
May we be disturbed into Holiness this week. Alan
A special welcome to Rev Ken Leverton who will be sharing the Gospel with us this morning. I am preaching at Salt River and Observatory today. Nicholas Nickleby movies Please pray for the leadership of these congregations together with Woodstock congregation in their search for a new minister as a result of the moving of Rev. Greg Andrews.
In the sermons of the last two weeks we have seen that as soon as the blisters on the hands of the ancient Israelites, resulting from Pharaoh’s brickyard, were replaced by blisters on their feet from the wilderness sands, they began to complain.
Forgetting their oppressive past they began to scorn the mighty acts of God’s liberating love.
I believe this past week we have witnessed a similar scorn towards the mighty acts of God’s liberating love in South Africa by the government refusing to allow the Dalai Lama to visit. It reveals a shameful forgetfulness of our own past of a previous regime who would dictatorially decide to prevent the free movement of spokespeople for justice. Praise God for people like Minister Hogan for stating South Africa’s true “best interests” namely that of respect for human rights. Lord have mercy on our wilderness-situated-land, you set us free from bondage now guide us to our land of promise which seems so far away.
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I hope you have been reading and enjoying the set Psalm for the week.
In Psalm 107 there is a recurring refrain that penetrates to the very heart of the Good News—that “the Lord’s steadfast love endures forever”. The psalmist describes a number of desperate situations of struggle and hardship—of people living in desert wastelands, thirsty and hungry and of others living in darkness, gloom and in chains and still others who were sick and emotionally afflicted not to mention the poor, needy and oppressed. In other words the psalmist just about covers all forms of tragedy in our lives—yet the psalmist does not crumple in despair.
The psalmist goes toe to toe against each tragedy with the Lord’s steadfast love. Love that hears and responds to our cry and transforms each tragedy into a testimony. download Cry Freedom dvd
May God grow in us the faith of the psalmist enabling the refrain of our lives to be a steadfast trust in the loyalty of God’s love. Alan
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This past Wednesday during Connections we heard an invitation from John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist Movement): “O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises … whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days … do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer.”
It is quite simple—to become spiritually fit we need to exercise. Now no-one in their right mind would think of running a marathon without doing daily exercises in preparation, so why do so many of us think we can run the marathon of life without fixing some part of every day for the private exercises of prayer and Scripture study. Now when it comes to exercise of any sort most of us need a partner to inspire and hold us accountable. Please, please, please ask someone you respect and trust to check in with you about your private exercises!
PS. Do you want to change the World?
If something inside you says—YES, then why not make a commitment to becoming a Sunday School teacher/helper at CMM. One of the greatest responsibilities and privileges that each of us carries is that of educating our children in the ways of Jesus and the dream of Jesus for the world. If you are interested then lets meet after the Service next Sunday.
A huge thank you to all those who attended the Leaders’ Meeting on Tuesday—for your time and thoughtfulness I am grateful. It is exciting to be part of a group of people who a longing for God to do a new thing among us for the sake of the world around us.
One of the decisions we made on Tuesday was to adopt a passage of Scripture that the Leaders’ Meeting feel called not only to read and reflect on, but to live out. The Scripture we chose is the story of Jesus’ transformative encounter with the Samaritan woman at the Well, recorded in John’s Gospel chapter 4.
Following this story we believe that CMM is called to be a Well. A Well where people will not only have their physical thirst quenched, but a place where people may have an authentic-down-to-earth encounter with Jesus. A safe yet challenging place to engage with the raw truth of our lives that ultimately empowers us to return to the places from which we have come with a new faith, hope and love. This story is posted elsewhere on this site for you to read. It is entitled Central Methodist Mission as Jacob’s Well. Crocodile Dundee full movie
Let us pray to be enabled by God to faithfully live out of this Scripture so that the Living Water of Jesus will be experienced in our parched land. Peace,
Today is the first Sunday in LENT. LENT is the period of 40 days (excluding Sundays) that precedes Easter. It is a time of repentance which is a religious word for the re-orientating and redirecting of our lives. Turning from a life of self-service that ultimately leads to death for ourselves and the world, to a life of humbly serving God by following Jesus that ultimately leads to LIFE for ourselves and the world.
If you have a copy of the Lectionary readings (these set weekly scriptures readings are available at the back of the Sanctuary) you will notice that the Old Testament lessons all have something to do with Covenant. Over the next five Sundays in LENT we will be going on the journey from Covenant to Calvary. To this end I want to invite you to enter into Covenant with someone in order to gently watch over one another in love. Designing Woman ipod
How? By finding someone we trust to hold us accountable on a daily or weekly basis to one (or more) area/s of our walk with Jesus. For example: daily prayer, weekly worship, truthful speech, gentleness, silence, hospitality, generosity, compassion, justice, scripture study, a particular relationship etc. with the hope that as we are helped to keep faithful to Covenant we will not forsake Jesus en route to Calvary.
Peace to you and through you, Alan
It is a privilege to have Craig Arendse reflecting on the Scriptures with us this morning. Craig, please be free and at home among us. Rudy dvdrip We are open and excited to hear what God has to say to us through you.
[This weekend I am at Manning Road Methodist Church in KZN working with the leaders of that community and preaching at their Covenant Service].
This coming Wednesday is ASH Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time for us to confess and be cleansed from those things that have our lives in a stranglehold and add to the brokenness of the world. One Eight Seven film A stranglehold of addiction that robs us of free and fearless living. I am convinced that a huge percentage of us are addicted to something, whether it is shopping, eating, blaming, praise, exaggerating, sex, alcohol, TV, work, the Lotto, or even taking care of people. Candy dvdrip As Barbara B Taylor says: The simplest definition of an addiction is anything we use to fill the empty place inside of us that belongs to God alone.
During Lent we are called to “give up” our addictions, and return to trusting God who alone gives LIFE. We can begin by simply praying: “Lord, reveal to me my addictions and set me free.”
See you Wednesday, Alan