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
Today is a special service not only because we will gather to share the bread of friendship around Jesus’ table, but because today we are called to renew our Covenant with God. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, conducted the first Covenant service in the French Church at Spitafields on 11 August 1755 and since then Methodists everywhere (and a growing number of other denominations) have been urged to renew their Covenant with God at the beginning of each new year.
We should be feeling a bit like how a bride and groom feels on their wedding day—both nervous and excited, because the commitments we are about to make are HUGE!
Here is the heart of the Covenant commitment:
I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I fully and freely yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. One Missed Call divx
How about we commit to pray this prayer everyday this year?
A special welcome to Rev Yvette Moses who will be sharing God’s “ear tingling” word with us today [1 Sam 3:11]. Yvette comes on behalf of the Bishop to “induct” me into this community. According to the dictionary to induct means to “formally introduce”.
But that is not all. The dictionary goes on to say that induction can also refer to the “bringing on by artificial means the induction of labour”. In other words to help start the birthing moment. This for me is a far more accurate description of what Yvette is doing here today. She has come to bring on our labour by art-full means. And you didn’t even know you were pregnant did you! Well, we are pregnant. By the Holy Spirit we have conceived. Now God’s dream, revealed to us in the world-healing life of Jesus, awaits to be born. This is our only task—nothing else really matters. We should be feeling awe-fully excited.
Labour is painful and messy. Moans and screams fill the air. We may even feel like we are dying, yet if we continue to breathe and refuse to let go of the hands of those around us we will be given the gift of NEW LIFE and so will the world around us. Let us commit today to refuse to let go of each other’s hands for the sake of God’s dream.
With awe-full excitement, The Good German movie full
Last week we reflected on the question: “Who do you say Penny Serenade divx you are?” It was a question of identity. If we don’t know who we are and do not have a strong sense of self two things may happen: King Lear movie
1. Money Train movie download We end up housing a restless frustration or even rage within ourselves. This is often unbearable, so to deal with it we are tempted to project it onto others. Our sense of inferiority may result in the addictive tendency to pull others down so at least we can be “above” them. We become experts in finding faults in others.
2. If we don’t know who we are from the inside out then we may be tempted to try to find our identity from the outside in. Here we usually end up becoming addicted to material things. Like all addictions they finally fail to satisfy. Inner security cannot be achieved from the outside.
To set us free from these terrible addictions we are invited to receive our identity from heaven as opposed to any other socially constructed category like nationality, culture or race. So let me give you some homework. Spend five minutes every day repeating over and over again to your self your heavenly defined identity: “I am beloved. A precious child of God. And BEAUTIFUL to behold.”
Do you remember the question Jesus asked his disciples after checking out what other people were saying about him? He asked: and “who do you say I am?” Question around identity are important – so let me ask you a question: “Who do you say you are?”
How do you describe yourself? What words or categories do you rely on to give expression to your identity? I guess many of us find our identity from the work we do, like the advert going around at the moment that says: “You are what you do, so why not do the exceptional?” It is a catchy phrase, but it is a lie. Others of us may draw our identity from our nationality, religion, culture, language or even still the colour of our skin…, but who do you say you
Husbands and Lovers are? How we answer this question forms a massive part of the foundation of our lives. And like a building’s foundation it is hidden from view, but all determining in what it supports above the ground. Beyond this morning’s sermon I hope we will all take time in the coming days to engage this question.
We are not only individuals – we are a community and the same question applies: Who do we say we are at the Central Methodist Mission? To wrestle with this as a community I hope you will attend Connections
which starts this Wednesday at 7pm.
In hope and with joy, Alan.
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I wonder what New Year resolutions you have made? Even if you don’t consciously do that sort of thing it is difficult not to carry at least some desire within us for a NEW year—a different year—a more fulfilling year—a less stressful year etc.
I have been reflecting on the New Testament reading that we read on Christmas Day—a letter from Paul addressed to a person by the name of Titus. There is something in it that I find inviting to live into. It carries within it a vision of a way of life that promises to make 2009 truly NEW in the meaningfulness of that word. Listen:
God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honouring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness. [Titus 2:11-14—The Message]
What is your prayer for 2009? What is the single most important word you desire to bring to God? Ted Loader defines prayer as “my heart is in my mouth” – so let me ask you the same question another way: what sound does your heart make when it is in your mouth and you speaking with God? Sleuth movie full
It may be helpful to ask ourselves another question in order to assist us to discern not only what our prayer
but what our prayer should be! So let us ask:
What prayer should we be praying for Jesus to be more deeply loved, more faithfully followed and more fully glorified in each of our lives?
We can start by praying: “Lord help me to discern what prayer I need to be praying so that I can love, follow and glorify Jesus more in my living in 2009.”
Peace and Joy to you – Alan.