What if we take Jesus seriously?

Philippi Horticultural Association Press Conference

 

Friends,

With COP27 currently taking place in Egypt, highlighting the complex issues of climate change, the devastation caused by floods and droughts, feast or famine, unscrupulous exploitation of natural and other resources, there is still hope. Hope inspired by people and organisations who have made it their life’s work to bring climate justice to our planet and to those who would otherwise have no voice.

One such group is the Philippi Horticultural Association. This is a group of “farmers who seek to be good stewards of the land, given by the Creator as an ‘amana’ [trust] in safekeeping for future generations to come.” [See press release.]

A 2020 High Court judgement ordered that a proper assessment of the 500ha Oakland City Development on climate change, the aquifer and water scarcity take place. The developers have presented their study. It is now in the hands of MEC Anton Bredell who must make the call and decide whether to approve or not the developers’ proposal. The Western Cape Government had previously adopted the PHA Indego Study Protection Plan and identified the PHA food land as the city’s resilience against climate change. Only time will … either decision will impact the lives, livelihoods and the environment of all affected parties.

The relocation of people who are currently living on the Central Railway line to the Philippi area was announced by the Minister of Transport who apparently had not consulted the Ward Councillor in the Philippi area. The land earmarked belongs to various spheres of government as well as private owners. The impact on the water supply from the Cape Flats Aquifer, food production, the lack of basic services for human settlement and crime are some of the concerns raised by the PHA and others. The impact on climate change will also be felt as food will have to be produced elsewhere and brought from greater distances to the City’s growing population and the overuse of the Aquifer could lead to dwindling water supply. Who can forget the drought we experienced not so long ago! It is also important to know what the impact will be on the farmers who have put all they have into sustaining this project year after year. What will happen to them and their livelihoods? And … what about the people who have nowhere to call home? Where will they live?

Every person has a fundamental constitutional right to adequate housing and basic services. The livelihoods of those who have for many decades provided Cape Town with much needed fresh fruit and vegetables right on its doorstep also have their rights enshrined in our constitution. Where to from here?

The answers of course are far from simple or easy to find. Whatever decisions are taken by the Western Cape Government [and the delegates attending COP27], we are called to be custodians of Creation, to care for the widow, the orphan and the foreigner and not to glean to the edges of our fields. God entrusted the care of all of creation to humans – to care justly and holistically. I would like to suggest that we can start looking for answers by living out the greatest commandment Jesus gives: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31.

Justice is needed everywhere. I believe that should all of us (and especially those in powerful positions) take Jesus’ commandment seriously justice will be restored and it will prevail, particularly for the least among us.

With gratitude to all who heed the call for justice.
Adrienne

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Enduring Blessing

“A Gathering of Spirits”

©Jan Richardson

 

Friends

Sharing with you today this poem by Jan Richardson, a writer, visual artist and retreat leader.

Jan introduces it as follows:

“This year … I am thinking especially of those who have lost beloved ones since this time last year. And I am thinking always of those who have carried grief for a long time. I am grateful that the sacred calendar provides these days to do what so many of us do throughout the year: to remember beloved ones who are no longer here but who somehow journey with us still.

In these days, as we grieve and celebrate our beloved dead, may we know how they endure with us, holding our hearts and encompassing us with a fierce and stubborn love that persists across time and distance. May that love help light our way in the life that is continuing to unfold for us.”

ENDURING BLESSING
What I really want to tell you
is to just lay this blessing
on your forehead,
on your heart;
let it rest
in the palm of your hand,
because there is hardly anything
this blessing could say,
any word it could offer
to fill the hollow.

Let this blessing
work its way
into you
with its lines
that hold nearly
unspeakable lament.

Let this blessing
settle into you
with its hope
more ancient
than knowing.

Hear how this blessing
has not come alone—
how it echoes with
the voices of those
who accompany you,
who attend you in every moment,
who continually whisper
this blessing to you.

Hear how they
do not cease
to walk with you,
even when the dark
is deepest.

Hear how they
encompass you always—
breathing this blessing to you,
bearing this blessing to you
still.

—Jan Richardson from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

Grace and peace, Adrienne

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sixty Harvests Left

Friends,

Author of Farmageddon and Dead Zone, Philip Lymbery is at it again. His latest book: Sixty Harvests Left has taken its title from a chilling warning made by the United Nations that the world’s soils could be lost within a lifetime, Sixty Harvests Left uncovers how the food industry is threatening the planet. Put simply, humans have broken covenant with the soil. Without soils there will be no food: game over. And time is running out.

One of the horrors I discovered reading the book was that there is a 160,000 cattle-capacity site at Karan Beef feedlot south of Johannesburg. When I think of industrial cattle farms – I think US – which has over 26,000 such farms that hold over a thousand cattle each. “Instead of grass, these animals are mainly fed cereals: corn, wheat and barley, along with soya and leftovers like distillers grains.” [p 29] They are also “hormone-treated” on arrival. There are not many such industrial cattle farms in SA but who knew we had one of the largest in the world? I didn’t. Lymbery doesn’t use the word repentance in his book but his call to a new future through: regeneration, rethinking protein and rewilding is a clear call to repent – to change.

On a similar note. You may well have heard the ‘Anthem’ for Our Burning Planet, but just in case you have not, here it is. This “music journalism” of Daily Maverick deserves a punt. In 1965 Barry McGuire sang Eve of Destruction (written by PF Sloan). Please listen to it because it remains a prophetic (truthful) word for the world to heed. Well, Daily Maverick have now adapted Eve of Destruction with words that speak to our “Burning Planet”. Featuring Anneli Kamfer, they address through song and visuals the greatest challenge facing life on earth.

Here are words…but best to hear them sung and see video:

The burning world, it is explodin’,
The burning world, it is explodin’,
Violence flarin’, fear & loathin’,
You’re bad enough to scream, but your throat is chokin’,
You don’t believe in oil, but it’s your car that’s smokin’,
And even the Jordan river has no water floatin’,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

 Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
And can’t you feel the fears I’m feeling today?
When the threshold is crossed, it’s the end of the game,
There’ll be nothing to save when the world is aflame,
Take a look around you, girl, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
And tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’,
I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone don’t bring the solution,
When the human race is so close to dissolution’,
This whole crazy world is one big confusion,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.
Think of all the coal that’s blazing your soul
Then look at your own town spinning down the hole
Ah, you may leave Earth, for four days in space,
But when you return, the same old scorching place,
The poundin’ of the drums, the fright and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say your grace
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction. 
No, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

In grace, Alan

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Days of Zondo

 

Friends,

Every Sunday there is a set psalm. The set psalm for today is Psalm 65. Part of my practice is to read the Sunday -approaching-psalm throughout the week. Some weeks it feels like I am carrying the psalm. Other weeks it feels like the psalm is carrying me. To carry and be carried by ancient words. Ancient words that help me hear today’s words differently. This past week there was one line in particular from Psalm 65 that I have been living with: “At the rise of each morning, and as the sun sets at night, the people bow their heads in reverent gratitude.” (Translation from: Nan C. Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). The scented invitation of each day this past week has simply been to bow my head in reverent gratitude.

Now on Wednesday evening I attended the book launch of Days of Zondo written by Ferial Haffajee who was interviewed by fellow journalist Rebecca Davis. From the launch, I am convinced Days of Zondo will be an important and riveting read, but the book itself is not the focus of this note. Bowing my head in reverent gratitude is the point of this note. And that was the overwhelming desire I had when I left the book launch: to bow my head in reverent gratitude for these two people who constantly save our country from falling off the cliff into oblivion. They, and others like them, do this saving work day in and day out. Yes, salvation work is everlasting and never-ending work.

And what is salvation work? It is the work of healing and liberation. Healing work that flows from the implementation of justice and mercy. And liberation work that flows from the application of truth. Jesus told us the truth sets us free, but his crucified body tells us that the truth is also enormously threatening to those who live off systems built on lies. And this is why I was moved to bow my head in reverent gratitude on Wednesday evening. Reverent gratitude for two people who love the truth. That was my overriding sense: these two are in love with the truth. They will do anything to unearth the truth, expose the truth, explain the truth, broadcast the truth, publish the truth. And their love for the truth casts out their fear of those who fear the truth, and this enables them to continue their salvation work.

So, for all the truth tellers – I bow my head in reverent gratitude. For those who are fearlessly in love with truth – I bow my head in reverent gratitude. For every investigative journalist – I bow my head in reverent gratitude. For every independent truth-seeking media house – I bow my head in reverent gratitude. For every whistle-blower who places truth above their job or position – I bow my head in reverent gratitude. For every activist and civil society organisation hard pressed for finances and resources but doggedly continues to raise issues of injustice – I bow my head in reverent gratitude. For legal brains and legal firms that use the law for salvation work and not Stalingrad work – I bow my head in reverent gratitude. I bow my head in reverent gratitude to these salvation workers in our land today. I invite you to add to the list … and bow your head in reverent gratitude.

In grace,
Alan

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Stepping Stones Children’s Centre

 

Sibongile and his fellow Stepping Stones Gardeners.

 

Friends,

Today Sibongile and Luella (who both teach ball skills and gardening to the children) as well as Alan are running the Cape Town Marathon to help raise funds for Stepping Stones Children’s Centre.

For those not [too] familiar with Stepping Stones and how it came to be, here is a little history. In 1976 it was started in the old Albertus Street Primary School, a school closed as a result of the Group Areas Act in District Six during the 1960s. It was started by the Buitenkant Street Methodist Church under the leadership of Dr Charles Villa-Vicencio.

One of the founding principles of the school was that no child will be classified according to race which meant that no funding was forthcoming from the government. With limited funds the school relied for a long period on volunteers. Today there are 15 staff members, and volunteers continue to add great value to the lives of the children. An estimated number of between 3 000 to 4 500 children have thus far received their foundation education at Stepping Stones.

Stepping Stones is much more than a day-care centre. It is a safe place where parents who work in the city are able to leave their children during the day with the assurance that the holistic development of every child is the main priority.

Each day is filled with age-appropriate activities, nutritious meals and learning opportunities. Gardening, physical activities, art, a time to nap and a time for stillness, a time to play in a group or quietly by themselves, reading, drama and maths activities are some of what is accomplished daily by the children.

Celebrations are special occasions—celebrating our heritage, end of year achievements, special people and so much more. A variety of outings also take place from time to time such as visits to Kirstenbosch Gardens, the ECD Reading Centre, Butterfly World and the like.

What was started out of a great need to help the displaced families of District Six has grown into a vibrant and life-giving Centre for children of our city. Long-time congregation members, as well as “new” ones, continue to support the Centre because of their firm belief in the importance of education and especially early childhood development. This legacy is worth continuing and expanding upon.

We are grateful to Luella, Sibongile and Alan for putting on their running shoes to help create awareness and raise funds for the children, but it doesn’t mean we all have to do it the “hard” way … we can simply donate what we can … a bit of time and/or some money!

You can contact them to find out how best you can support them via email: ssamin@telkomsa.net. The website is www.steppingstoneschildrenscentre.org.za. Like their Facebook page where regular updates on what is happening at Stepping Stones are posted.

By linking your MySchoolMyVillageMyPlanet card to Stepping Stones you will also help them with their fundraising efforts.

Thank you for all the generous support and donations!
Adrienne

Print Friendly, PDF & Email