Magi Curiosity & Courage

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It is Martin Bacchus from CMM all dressed up during the last Moonlight Mass cycle ride.
Moonlight Mass is a fun cycle ride each month during full moon.
The ride ends on Greenmarket Square and cyclists are invited into the sanctuary (with their bikes) for coffee and free cupcakes.
The next ride is Sunday 27th at 9 p.m. All welcome.

Two weeks ago we reflected on the story of the Magi in Matthew 2. Propelled with curiosity they followed the night star until they came to Jesus. Then courageously they refused to return to King Herod and in doing so they saved Jesus from a certain early death. We noted that before the Saviour of the world saves us — he himself is saved and instead of being obsessed with being saved by Jesus we should spend our energy on saving him. We “save him” by protecting the vulnerable, marginalised and oppressed.

The two qualities of the Magi that standout for me are their curiosity and their courage.

We are taught rather negatively that “curiosity killed the cat”, but curiosity also invented life-saving medicines and explored far-flung galaxies. The Magi were curious. They not only carried gold, frankincense and myrrh but they carried questions. Questions about the mystery of being and the meaning thereof. Questions about life and the giver of life and their life and the way to live life. The Magi were a curious and questioning people and we are called to be like them. Jesus has often been referred to as “the answer” but he also comes among us as “the question”. In relation to Jesus we are invited to curiously question the nature of the Divine as well as our own humanity, not to mention the beautiful majesty of creation.

The Magi also inspire us to be courageous. They risked their lives and future well-being to protect Jesus who lay exposed and vulnerable to Herod’s cruelty.

What a journey 2013 will be if we ask God to fill us with questions that make us curious about Jesus and courage to risk our reputations and lives to protect the vulnerable.

Make us curious and courageous Lord — for your sake, Amen.

Grace, Alan

PS: Remember Covenant Preparation on 23 and 24 January – see invitation below.

Journey with Jesus on the single track

The Gospel in Brief by Leo Tolstoy – a fascinating read.
You will be relieved to know that it has fewer pages in it than
War and Peace but it is equally powerful.

After the New Year’s Eve Service I felt like I had eaten a beautifully nourishing and tasty meal. You know that feeling when your body rejoices – when the meal “hits the spot”? Well that is how I felt. And I don’t know why I was surprised really because we have been told that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God. And on New Year’s I was fed by the word.

The two hours of shared silence provided the sacred setting to read a single passage of scripture (Colossians 3) over and over and over again – until it literally became part of me – like food fully digested. As I read the scripture, the scripture read my life – convicting me and inspiring me – and leaving me energised to run the race of faithfulness set before me.

Not only did I need this nourishing time, but even more, I needed the reminder that without silence and meditation I would be left malnourished and without the necessary strength to journey faithfully.

Like the other day when a friend took me mountain bike riding; it was my first time out on the dirt. He chose a single track going up past Rhodes Memorial. It was too much for me. My level of fitness and skill were not up to it so we sought out an easier path – a broader road that was not as steep. As any mountain biker will tell you, it is the single track (narrow way) that you live for (even born for), but this takes hours in the saddle. It takes training. It takes practice.

Jesus invites us to journey with him on the narrow way, the single track that we were born for. It is the way of compassion and kindness. The way of humility and gentleness. The way of truth and mercy. It is the way of generosity and justice. It is the way of accepting the grace-full gift that we have been forgiven and we should forgive ourselves and learn to forgive others for therein lays our peace as well as the peace of the world. This all takes training – training in silence and meditation.

Let’s start, Alan!

PS: Remember Covenant Preparation: 23 and 24 January at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary – see post below.

We are already one

Last week we heard the piercing question from the letter of James asking us: “Do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?” (James 2:1). James was referring to the different ways his congregation treated the rich from the poor. It made James question whether they really believed in Jesus or not. That is heavy stuff!

James is correct to connect his congregation’s behaviour to his congregation’s beliefs — because ultimately it is our behaviour that reveals what we truly believe — not the songs we sing or sermons we preach.

One of the areas we have struggled with as a congregation is how we can share tea/coffee after worship with one another — and with the homeless that visit. Many of us feel overwhelmed, inadequate and uncomfortable. We leave rather than stay. We “hand-out” rather than share. In so doing we miss an opportunity to imitate God’s free welcome and undeserved hospitality of us. We also miss attending to Jesus who comes to us in those who society says are the “least”. How we behave around the tea/coffee table is probably more important to God than what we do around the Holy Communion table. In fact, the tea/coffee table is the real Holy Communion table that we should “do in remembrance of Jesus”.

I know this stuff is not easy — but we must wrestle with it as a community if we are to try to hold Christ at the centre. The truth is that we are all family. No one is a guest. No one is a visitor. No one is a stranger. We are one. Maybe this is the great underlying sin — that leads to so many other sins, and that is the belief that we are separate from God and others when the truth is we are all ONE. We do not have to become one — we are one already.

When we resume tea/coffee again let us accept Jesus’ invitation to live out our oneness.

Fast and Pray

The Presiding Bishop, Rev. Zipho Siwe has called on the Methodist Church of Southern Africa to fast and pray during September to “push the frontiers of evil back, especially in the area of education” and violence in our land. There are many different ways to fast. Here are some options for us to consider. With each option we would have to decide how long we would implement the fast for — a day or month.

• A complete fast, going without food and drink
• A liquid fast
• A fruit-only fast, or raw food only
• A sunrise to sunset fast
• A one-meal-a-day-fast
• A fast from certain foods and drink.

Substitute the time for eating with a time for prayer as well as an extra generosity in sharing with others.

Lord have mercy on us, Alan.