It is good to be home again and I look forward to sharing with you the many experiences and learnings from my trip overseas – just as soon as I get over my jetlag. Thank you for your prayers to be able to speak and hear grace-full truth.
I must tell you that whenever anyone found out I was from South Africa they got all excited and asked me about the World Cup. So one thing is for sure, SA has had a lot of publicity! Well the 2010 World Cup may be over but 2010 is not over! We are only halfway through the year. And I am hopeful that the rest of the year will be a significant time for us at CMM.
To this end I would like to invite you all to another “movie” evening at CMM. On Friday the 30th July we will be showing As it is in Heaven. This is the most beautiful movie I have ever seen! It is a movie about the healing of a community where individuals are loved into loving. I really hope everyone of us will be able to make it. And yes there will be popcorn!
Then on the Saturday 31st July you (yes all of you) are invited to spend the day imagining God’s dream for CMM – hopefully insightfully inspired by As it is in Heaven . We will do this at Erin Hall, Rondebosch. It doesn’t matter if you have just started coming to CMM or whether you have been here for years – everyone is included because the dream of God is in the hands of us all. I trust that as we live life more and more orientated towards fulfilling God’s dream for this beloved world we will be gifted with renewed meaning and refreshed joy. Peace, Alan.
Today is the Fifa World Cup final in Johannesburg. Preceded by an abundance of excitement, and celebration amongst visitors and locals. Many visitors have praised the wonderful hospitality and friendliness of South Africans. African teams were warmly embraced. Bafana Bafana even became BaGhana, BaGhana, for the Ghanaians. We can be proud of the way we organized and delivered on the World Cup. What a jol!
Yet in the shadows of expensive stadia other foreign nationals, are fearful of their South Africans neighbours, whom they do not experience as hospitable and friendly, and who are threatening xenophobic violence. While so much of the threat is based on rumour and some criminal acts against foreign nationals, the horrific events of 2008, are still fresh, painful memories for many. The lack of services and competition for scarce resources in impoverished communities aggravate an untenable situation. All spheres of Government, NGOs and Faith Based Organizations have responded to the threats in different ways. A main concern is to ensure that the responses do not create a self-fulfilling prophecy, and precipitate violence.
We as church, Christians, community and South Africans are obliged to respond. Today’s lectionary reading shares the story of the Good Samaritan. Appropriately we could ask: But what if the attack on the traveller was xenophobic violence, then which character would we be?
We should respond to the current situation, but also in the longer term. Our humanity and unity in the faith is also harmed by this evil. Our own worship services provide a melting pot of human diversity and challenge. How are we becoming a more inclusive community at CMM? What are the deeper issues? What of our own demons?
We thank God for many who do act out their faith in society, sometimes at great cost to themselves. May we, as Jesus said, “then do the same”. Through the power of the Spirit we can. To do so, is living out our faith, individually as community and as church, and is affirming our humanity in the power and presence of God.
God’s Peace. Gilbert
Special thanks to Rev Ken Leverton who is sharing the Good News with us this morning.
It is a privilege to care for your children on a Sunday morning and I would like to share the following thoughts with you.
Children and context – our children live on the same planet as we adults do, but no longer in the same world we grew up in. Life has changed – children live in a highly automated environment. They are faced with the challenges of constant changes in technology, with bullies and peer pressure. Drugs and violence are constantly present, often in and around their school playground, the community or home environment. Is it any wonder that our children are becoming depressed at a young age, are “acting out” in various ways as they try to give expression to their feelings of frustration, anxiety, anger, rejection and isolation?
Our children need us to communicate with them. They need to be given opportunity to engage openly with parents, grandparents, care-givers, and others, with attentiveness, without judgement. We need to validate the words and feelings they share.
These are some words I believe children long to hear to help them realise God’s dream for their lives:
“I believe in you” – when I believe in you, you start believing in yourself. Let us build upon a child’s strengths rather than constantly correcting weaknesses.
“You can count on me” – children long for someone to rely on because life offers plenty of opportunities for disappointment. Keep your promises and act on your threats. When parents are reliable, a child trusts in God much easier.
“I treasure you “ – children need to feel special, valued and treasured, not because of any performance, but because they are our gifts from God and deserve our affirmation.
“I am SORRY, please forgive me” – tough words for a parent, but a sincere apology and a request for forgiveness shows respect. Such a request shows children that their feelings matter and helps them with taking responsibility.
“I love you” – children who consistently hear that they are loved will say those words more easily through their lives and it may also help them understand the concept of God’s unconditional love.
Saying “NO” effectively and with a clear message, if we want our children to be able to say no to drugs, alcohol, the influence of bad peers and other temptations.
This is the basis of our children’s ministry each Sunday – to love them unconditionally as God loves us unconditionally.
Our children are worthy of our Affection, Attention, Affirmation, Encouragement, Love and Respect at all times.
Well today I am 16 424 km away from you—in Seattle. As you gather this morning at 10am I am hopefully asleep because it is 1am! I will be preaching this evening when it will be about 3am your time—feel free to wake up and pray for me!
I am at an amazing place called Holden Village situated North East of Seattle surrounded by the abundant beauty of the Cascade Mountains high above Lake Chelan. “Holden Village is a center for renewal, a Lutheran ministry welcoming all people into the wilderness to be called, equipped and sent by God. Thousands of visitors come to Holden each year to experience learning, worship and hilarity.” I will be leading the morning Bible studies for the community this coming week. The entire place runs by volunteers—teachers, pastors, musicians, cooks, maintenance, pre-school care, medics, gardening—you name it. Everyone brings and shares their gift resulting in a rich tapestry of community life. See www.Holdenvillage.org
Next week I will be going to Vancouver to do a little teaching and sharing and a lot of learning at First United Church—a community at the margins where “post modern atheists, traditional Christians and members of other faith communities can make a difference together”.
Sounds like the lamb and wolf are lying down together!
Then I will return to Seattle to facilitate a Manna and Mercy weekend before returning home at Bethany United Church of Christ. See http://bethanyseattle.org Please pray for the gift of tongues so that grace and truth is spoken and the gift of ears so that grace and truth is heard.
See you soon. Alan
I was sent the following email this week from my friend Roger Scholtz entitled: “Why I support Slovenia.” It has certainly won me over…how about you?
“On Friday there was a fantastic supplement in the Mercury newspaper containing the national anthems (with English translation) of all the participating nations of the World Cup.
Many of the anthems draw on the imagery of war and bloodshed as their defining metaphor. Now I accept that some anthems emerged from the crucible of revolution, and so understandably reflect what was often a bloody struggle for freedom. The French anthem would be a classic example. The words of its chorus sound this call: ‘To arms, citizens. Form your battalions. Let’s march! Let’s march! May an impure blood water our furrows!’
The Algerian anthem includes the disturbing (albeit poetic) lines, “We have taken the noise of gunpowder as our rhythm. And the sound of machine guns as our melody.” The Mexican anthem also ain’t for the fainthearted. It starts with, “Mexicans, at the cry of war, prepare the steel and the steed, and may the earth shake at its core to the resounding roar of the cannon.” And then it carries on, “War, war! Take the national pennants and soak them in waves of blood. War! War!…May your fields be watered with blood”
It makes me wonder whether FIFA should release a PG advisory before such anthems are played.
[From the front page] Then there are those anthems that are unashamedly self-obsessed. Perhaps the best example here is Germany’s anthem. It begins: “Germany, Germany above all. Above all in the world…. Germany, Germany above everything. Above everything in the world.” And then it goes on to sing about German women, wine and song!!!
But then, in the midst of all this sabre-rattling and excessive nationalistic pride, there comes a beautiful surprise. Listen to these remarkable words of the Slovenia national anthem:
‘God’s blessing on all nations
Who long and work for that bright day
When o’er earth’s habitation
No war, no strife shall hold its sway
Who long to see that all men free
No more shall foes, but neighbours be.’
I’m convinced! Words of a national anthem like that have won Slovenia at least one more supporter this World Cup – moi! I may not get the pronunciation right in the native language of the song, but I’ll do my best to sing along heartily.”
I hope you will be supporting Slovenia too…and if you can’t bring yourself to do that then at least include their anthem as your prayers.
2010 Soccer World Cup Prayer
Lord God it is the year 2010. The year of the soccer world cup. The year when African soil welcomes the world to play and watch what is known as the beautiful game. Lord, people are excited and this is wonderful to see. Our nation is overflowing with pride and our continent is enjoying being in the news for something other than suffering and strife. To show off the beauty of this beloved country to an ever growing amount of tourists is a privilege. There are flags flying everywhere—none are being burned in protest instead they are being embraced with respect and regard, even the flags of our “enemies”.
Lord a little round ball has given us a unifying focus—our primary identity is no longer black or white; rich or poor; supburb or township; boardroom or street corner, parliament or pub—we are supporters with a comon hope and comon goal and even a comon noice —<<<
Lord, people have worked hard for this world cup. If not heaven, then atleast a lot of earth has been moved for it to take place and we marvel at the new infrastructure—a supersonic train—new buses—highways and walkways which have provided much needed jobs for which we are thankful.
But Lord even though I am excited I am equally disturbed. Why did we need a soccer world cup as a motivating factor to address matters of national infrastructure? And how come the bulk of the infrastructural change benefits the privileged over the deprived? How come we build bridges for fans that will be used for only a few weeks but there are communities living next to busy roads and railway lines without bridges forcing the young and old to risk their lives everytime they seek to go across to the other side?
Why are highway pavements paved where no one ever walks using far more bricks than it would take to enclose open toilets? Billions are spent on stadia while our housing backlog increases anually.
We have first class airports that really are beautiful but only the rich can afford to fly—in truth our public transport system for the majority remains overcrowded and unsafe. We hear of a nearby hospital that has been upgraded for this event only to be closed soon afterwards and we wonder how we can afford such waste.
Lord we are grateful for the jobs that have been created but we also know that the shareholders of the construction companies have made a disproportionate profit than those who have actually done the hard physical work.
Lord as we welcome thousands of visitors we do so with fear that human trafficking, child abduction and the sex trade may all increase. Finally Lord how did we get to this place where soccer players earn multimillion Pound salaries—and for what really—compared to educators and nurses and vocations that are dedicated to the development of the human person and the wellbeing of the planet. Have mercy on us for our skewed priorities Lord.
Have mercy on us for being more passionate about a little round ball than we are about feeding the hungry and housing the homeless and working for economic justice in the world you so love.
Today we say farewell to Mr Tobi after over 20 years of faithful service at CMM. It is wonderful to have Mrs Tobi present with us this morning and to have many family and friends sharing in this momentous occasion.
Please feel free to stay a little while after the service as we pay tribute to Mr. Tobi and share together over food. Everyone is welcome!
Last week I was preaching in Khayelitsha and loved every minute of it. What distressed me though was the fact that in the whole of Khayelitsha there were only two Methodist Ministers. I had known this in theory, but to actually witness the full expanse and density of the area and to be taken to all the different Methodist places of worship—it really hit home. I know how much I miss CMM if I am away for just one Sunday but in Khayelitsha the minister only gets to preach in each community once a quarter. There is no way one can build up a community with such irregularity. I hope we will be able to make connections with the Methodist people of Khayelitsha as we seek to “make the circle bigger”!
Challenged and disturbed, Alan.
Special thanks to Dr Gilbert Lawrence who is sharing the Good News with us this morning.
Over the last few days around 150 of us have been meeting in Lotus River for our Annual Synod and today all the clergy get to preach in different congregations. I find this a helpful exercise in that it reminds me that I am part of a much larger body. A larger body that challenges and comforts me in its rich diversity. A larger body that nurtures me and holds me accountable. I am preaching in Khayelitsha this morning and I am looking forward to it very much. (Make the circle BIGGER!)
According to the Christian Calendar, today is Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday is a rather underrated Holy Day compared to Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. But it really is quite unique in that it higlights a doctrine of the early church rather than mark an event recorded in Scripture like all the other Holy Days. It is not without Scriptural reference however, the most well known being Jesus’ simple reply to Philip who asked Jesus to “show us the Father”. Jesus replied: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). This must be one of the most radical things Jesus ever said. If it is true, and I trust that it is, then it means that we should measure every statement about God against the teachings and example of Jesus. In other words if what is being said about God “fits” Jesus then we can go ahead and say—”yes that is Godly” – but if it doesn’t sound like Jesus we reject it as an accurate statement about God. This may sound simple but it demands we all get to know Jesus really well to be able to use him as our Godly measuring rod.
Today we celebrate Pentecost—when the heavens sounded forth like rushing wind and roaring fire. Today we celebrate Pentecost when the frightened followers of Jesus were convicted and en-couraged to come out and be counted for the sake of the Gospel—the good news of Jesus.
Janet Morley puts it so beautifully when she writes:
At Pentecost, the church celebrates the coming of the Spirit—the outpouring of the sudden power of God to transform a wounded and disillusioned band of stragglers into a community that changed the world. It was a power that was both awaited in obedience, and utterly unexpected in its energy and urgency. It generated both a deep interior fire, and immediate, compelling, and outrageous public witness. … God’s power is potentially overwhelming, like the natural forces of wind, fire, storm, and flood. It is power to break down what is corrupt in the world’s patterns of thought and dominance. But the Spirit is also seen as the “breath of love,” the giver of life, the remaker of community, the waker of the oppressed, the one who sings in the hearts of the poor. … the power of the Spirit [is] to integrate profound change of heart with exuberant and effective action within the world.
A Holy Spirit filled community is a community that changes the world, so let us be warned as we pray: Come Holy Spirit Come.
With fearful excitement, Alan.
It is a great joy to have Dr. Peter Storey preaching today. We trust you will feel at home among us —knowing that you served many of the people in this congregation in the 1960’s at the Buitenkant Street Methodist Church.
Last week we reflected on the amazing healing story in John 5. We noted that the person who was healed never asked to be healed. He never reached out to even touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. There is no indication that he believed that Jesus was the Messiah or if he even knew anything about Jesus at all. There is also no hint that he was a devout person or religious in any way. If anything he had some rather superstitious beliefs about the healing power of a certain pool, not that it did him any good because he had been sick for 38 years.
YET Jesus heals him! Jesus simply orders him to pick up his mat and walk. Jesus does not say anthing like “Your faith has made you well”. No, this is GRACE-healing (like all healing really).
We are invited to trust this story in John 5. To trust that God is at work IN all people all the time everywhere and that God is FOR all people all the time everywhere. Whether we know who Jesus is or not—he knows us and he longs to liberate and heal us. Jesus reveals a God who will not be boxed by our faith! Praise be to God.
Go in peace, Grace has made you well.