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
Thank you to everyone who has contributed so generously to this Harvest Festival. Today we are reminded in spectacular form of God’s faithful generosity toward God’s creation. We also thank God for places like Stepping Stones, Ons Plek and City Care who are equipped to share our generosity with those who need it most.
This past week Minister Manuel presented the Budget. He opened his speech with a quote that was like a cold splash of water to the heart:
If the things we face are greater and more important than the things we refuse to face, then at least we have begun the re- evaluation of our world. At least we have begun to learn to see and live again.
But if we refuse to face any of our awkward and deepest truths, then sooner or later, we are going to have to become deaf and blind. And then, eventually, we are going to have to silence our dreams, and the dreams of others. In other words, we die. We die in life. (Ben Okri, 1997)
May God give us the strength to engage our awkward and deepest truths so that our dreams, and above all God’s dream for the world, will never be silenced. Alan
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I have been reflecting on the promises we made to each other two weeks ago during my induction service. These promises give us our task as Jesus’ followers and they remind us what we should be focused on as Church. In summary we promised that with God’s help we…
1. Will joyfully bring the gospel of Christ to those who do not know him.
2. Will be faithful in prayer and worship.
3. Will diligently study the scriptures.
4. Will not only hear the Gospel but apply it to our lives.
5. Will joyfully provide frequent celebration of Holy Communion.
6. Will strive for justice in society, being instruments of Christ’s peace and love in the world.
Let us use this as a measuring stick at CMM to make sure that everything we do aims to keep these promises as our priorities.
I am challenged and excited to work out ways with you that will shape our living around these six priorities. May God’s light guide us on this journey from promise to priority.
Joy to you, Alan