Psalm 16: A Brief for the Defense

How can one enjoy joy, and celebrate life when there is so much suffering? It’s actually our responsibility to do so.

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Poem: A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies are not starving
someplace, they are starving somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not be made so fine. The
Bengal tiger would not be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women at
the fountain are laughing together between the suffering they have known and
the awfulness in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody in the
village is very sick. There is laughter every day in the terrible streets of
Calcutta, and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction, we lessen the importance
of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not
enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the
ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our
attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the
end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship anchored late at night in the
tiny port looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront is three
shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat comes slowly out
and then goes back is truly worth all the years of sorrow that are to come.
— Jack Gilbert

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All images used under Creative Commons license.
Image credits in order of appearance:
D. Sharon Pruitt
Joanne Q. Escober
Ubo Pakes
Ibrahim Lujaz
Ariful H Bhuiyan
Living In Kuito
Anant Rohankar
James Emery
Hamed Sabar
Lisa Edwards
Pedro Simoes
Ubo Pakes

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When trust is stolen

You may remember a few weeks back I asked if you ever stop and reflect on how much stuff you carry around with you … things like … cell phone, keys, wallet, driver’s license, glasses, bag (never mind what is in the bag…). Well, on that very Sunday my car was broken into and everything in the above mentioned list (and more) was stolen. This past Tuesday the Church’s TV walked out of our offices in broad daylight, and last Sunday about 30 m of copper piping was stolen from within our servitude lane.

So all in all I have spent far too much time lately in Police Stations. Besides the goods themselves, and the time and hassle it takes to replace everything — even when things are insured — there are some things that take much longer to replace, namely trust. Yes, every time I have something stolen from me I realise that far more has been taken than can be written on an insurance claim. My trust in people — especially strangers is also stolen.

I notice how much more suspicious I am of strangers. Suspicion that feeds into my prejudice and racism. I become paranoid. Paranoia that can easily imprison. There is such a temptation to become so security-conscious, especially around the Church property, that we end up restricting access to the very people we are called to journey with.

Lord give me (and all others in the same situation) back what no insurance company can give — a love and openness for the stranger.

Praying, Alan

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More than a fresh coat of paint

A special welcome to the Bishop of the Cape of Good Hope District, Rev. Michel Hansrod. It is our joy and privilege to have you sharing the Good News with us this morning at CMM.  Please trust that you are among family.

Over the past couple of months CMM has gone to great efforts to restore the beauty of this glorious sanctuary. We still have a great deal to do because our aim stretches much further than a fresh coat of paint. We long to be a community that is a source of abundant life within this city. Very soon the wooden doors of this sanctuary will stand open 24/7 with warm light shining through the welcoming-glass-doors.

A few years ago we were encouraged by our Presiding Bishop to tell the story of God’s movement, through the people called Methodists, in Southern Africa. Today we celebrate our rich heritage stretching back to John Wesley himself — as we display an original hand-written letter from Mr Wesley dated 1772.  Please be sure to read some of his thoughts on the display boards — they are amazingly relevant for today. Next to the Wesley letter is the relocated tombstone of Rev. Barnabas Shaw, not to mention the “time tunnel” of CMM memorabilia that has been dusted off to be shown off. This display is the beginning of our on-going story that will be added to over time.

Take a bow — all of you who have generously given of your support, money, time and energy to enable this restoration work to come this far.

Peace, Alan
Sunday 22 May 2011

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