Sainthood 101

During All Saints Sunday last week we reflected on Naomi in the book of Ruth. From her life we drew out the qualities of a Saint.

  • Saints are not spared from suffering. Instead they allow suffering to enlarge them.
  • Saints are open to meet and engage with their enemy.
  • Saints grieve (they value the preciousness of life).
  • Saints welcome foreigners as family.
  • Saints cry – they feel.
  • Saints feel the pain of others as if it were their own pain.
  • Saints respect the free choice of others – especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
  • Saints have the capacity to bless others even when their own life feels like it has been cursed.
  • Saints set others free.
  • Saints trust testimonies of God’s nourishing goodness even if they have run out of such experiences themselves.
  • Saints wrestle with God and tell God what for.
  • Saints are alive to God-lines in people, even if they don’t experience God’s presence and power in their life.
  • Saints stay in solidarity with the suffering.
  • Saints trust enough to start over often.

Continuing the fill the “spaces in-between”

The planting of our garden on Longmarket Street was a great success – the plants continue to flourish and generate discussion. Now we would like to do the same to the area behind the railings on Burg Street as well as the area around the main entrance.

Let us know if you wish to become involved in this next exciting phase of filling the in-between spaces around our sanctuary.

Peace, Alan

Gardening is Godly

Thursday was All Saints Day – and it was also the day we planted an urban food garden on our boundary fence living out the word of Leviticus 19:9-10:

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the foreigner: I am the LORD your God.

We planted the length of this Sanctuary – now we need to plant the breadth. But this time we are going to do it a little differently. Instead of getting an outside contractor to help us we are going to do it ourselves – after all we now know how.

Here are the instructions:

  • Find a grey or black milk crate
  • Line the bottom with 4 layers of hessian
  • Line the sides with a single layer
  • Fill with sexy soil
  • Pray – plant – pray some more
  • We will advise on the types of plants that will complement each other

Thanks to everyone for your participation on Thursday! And don’t forget that we also launched h e a v e n coffee – so when in town during the week be sure to visit.

This is the incredible new wall art that surrounds Ons Plek. This is something that must be seen to be believed. The artist goes by the name of FAITH47. Her artwork covers the globe and can be found covering high rise buildings and shacks in informal settlements and on the ruins of dilapidated buildings.

I encourage you to check out her website at www.faith47.com.

Peace, Alan

heaven on earth

On Thursday this coming week we officially open h e a v e n (coffee shop). We also get our hands dirty while we plant a food garden in the “space in-between” the steel railing and this sanctuary on the Longmarket Street side.

The aim of h e a v e n is to contribute to the hospitality offered through the Open Doors Ministry of CMM. To provide a space – a sacred space – where people can meet. It has already introduced many new people to each other and to this place. Someone said to me the other day that he has walked past this church for 19 years but he had never before entered through its doors.

My real hope is that we will be able to communicate the values of Jesus that this broken world so desperately needs to embody for its healing in fun and creative ways. In ways that do not rely on people being churchgoers or religious or even Christian, to engage with. [See below what will be on the coffee cup sleeves.] All the profits of the coffee shop will go towards the vulnerable poor of this city.

With the food garden we are offering this city a parable to engage with – a parable with many different interpretations to get people thinking about God’s dream for this world. Through the garden we will be reminded that God commanded that we do not harvest all our crops – but that we must leave enough for the widow, orphan and foreigner (vulnerable) of society. I hope others in the city will be inspired to grow food in their “in-between spaces” too. And may we all be reminded that food comes from the earth, and not from the shops. Now I know parables are risky – not everyone will “get it”. Some people have also said to me that the plants may just be stolen. Which is of course true – they may. But what a great witness it will be if they are not! And besides we don’t just want to harvest the produce but the principle that hunger is all our responsibility to address.

things to remember on earth as it is in heaven …

you are born in love by love and for love • you are beautiful • your enemy is also beautiful • the stranger is actually a member of your family – in fact everyone is family – all 7 billion of us • all violence is family violence • forgive • the real heroes are those who wrestle with addiction in truth and grace • widows orphans foreigners are the holy trinity • breathe and smile • hunger is a weapon of mass destruction (disarmed by generosity) • it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kin-dom of God – affording to pay for this coffee means you are rich – uncomfortable? now you know why JC was crucified • you can’t have love without truth • start over often • God is not a possession of the church • love casts out fear • forgive again • the holy land is not a place to visit – it is every place to value • food comes from the earth and not from the shops • plant some seeds • seek silence • JC rode a donkey not a car • the gentle inherit the earth • humankind: be both • repeat out loud: “I am beautiful” • now tell someone else that they are beautiful • homeless people are people first • we own nothing – everything is a gift • when you throw rubbish away, ask yourself where away is • forgive yourself • to listen is to love • explore the mystery of prayer • to say that some people are saved and others are not is hate speech • walk back to your office the long way round • make time for music • difference is divine • don’t worship your religion • you are forgiven – like completely forgiven • grace makes the world go round • go in peace • all profits go towards the vulnerable of this city • twitter @heavenscoffee

coffee conversation checklist
is it true? • is it kind? • is it necessary? • does it improve on the silence?

Peace, Alan

Finding our way

The Aral Sea

The faint outline is the shoreline of the Aral Sea in 1960 while the dark areas (top left) indicate the reduced size of the Aral Sea by 2009. It has shrunk some 250 km.

Some of you will know that when it comes to directions — I need a little help. In fact, I need a lot of help. I am sure that I could make a significant reduction to the world’s carbon emissions if I didn’t get so lost.

Before I came to Cape Town my brothers gave me a GPS to help me find my way around. This has definitely helped me, although I fear I have become over-reliant on it.

This past week I was in Wellington where I was facilitating a workshop on conflict resolution with colleagues. On my way home I had a real sense that I knew the way but I plugged in the GPS nevertheless. At one point the GPS was telling me to turn right but I was pretty certain that home was to my left. And despite me knowing my history of having no sense of direction it took everything in me to humbly go in the direction that the GPS was telling me to go. So I betrayed all my natural inclinations and turned right — and what felt like a mistake was actually correct.

This experience made me think of the Covenant Prayer that we pray at the beginning of each year:

“Christ has many services to be done; some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honour, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves…”

It was good to be reminded that it is in my best interest to sometimes go against my natural inclinations.

I am aware that this illustration is simplistic and that it is not always so easy to discern God’s voice as it is to hear the voice of the GPS. It may take time to discern, and quite often we will need the help of others to do so. For this reason we would do well to seek out a spiritual director/mentor/coach/counsellor to share the journey of our life with. Over time as they get to know us they may be able to help us to hear the directions to help us find our way home.

In Peace, Alan

Gardening is Godly

One of the things we agreed to at our Congregational Meeting the other night was that we would go ahead with the GREENING around the sanctuary. So, between the sanctuary and the metal railing we are going to plant a garden — imagine granadilla creepers interspersed with tomatoes and goose/blue/raspberries.

 And here are the reasons why:

  • Gardening is Godly! Remember right back in the beginning — God planted a Garden. Genesis 2:8.
  • To celebrate the beauty of God’s creation.
  • To be a sign of Jesus’ promise of abundant life.
  • To honour the Biblical teaching that we must “not reap to the very edge of our fields — leave them for the poor” and vulnerable of society: the widow, orphan and foreigner. Leviticus 19:9 reminds us that the poor are legitimate shareholders of every business.
  • To extend what we do outside into a educative display inside — to encourage all of us to become Godly gardeners — planters of food for the nation. Imagine if the boarders of our property overflowed with food for the hungry.
  • To offset some of the carbon emissions that we as a community generate. (Today we will be launching our “carbon tax — green box” — more details later).
  • All the planting will take place within used Dairymaid milk crates — to prove that we don’t need a big garden to grow our own food. This is the creative work of Touching The Earth Lightly (www.touchingtheearthlightly.com).

This week the seeds will be planted (off-site) with the hope that in Spring they will be well established to “come to Church”.

Peace, Alan