31 January 2021: Liberated to Choose
The restoration of the CMM sanctuary is now complete. This is due to the incredible generosity and hard work of so many people. No one has sought acknowledgement for their efforts in any way, and this makes the gifts received even more beautiful. Thank you therefore, not only for your generosity, but also for your humility.
We have tried our best to restore the beauty of the sanctuary and retain its simplicity. Beauty and simplicity are values in and of themselves and we trust that everyone who enters the sanctuary will experience this to be so. As people discover that the CMM sanctuary is a cared-for-space, may we always remember that we care for the space in order for it to care for people. The building exists for people, not people for the building.
When everything is sparkling clean, it is tempting to make it our main priority to keep it like this forever, but it is a sanctuary, not a museum. It is a sanctuary that keeps its doors open for all. A sanctuary where people, especially vulnerable people, are reminded of their exquisite beauty and priceless worth. A sanctuary where the poor hear good news, and the captives find release. A sanctuary that brings strangers together around a font of water – and declares by grace that everyone is one family. A sanctuary in which we find a table that welcomes all to the feast of fairness – as we all eat from one loaf and drink from the common cup. A sanctuary that we can return to over and over again when we are lost to find our bearings that rest on the most sacred truth: You are born in love, by love and for love.
Last Sunday, around the perimeter of the sanctuary, we planted what we hope will become a Spekboom Forest. May it be a sign of life and beauty and a reminder of the resurrection power of nature that we all depend on, yet seldom acknowledge – the transformation of carbon dioxide into oxygen.
We had hoped to celebrate in the Sanctuary by coming together this Sunday (29th November) which seemed appropriate on the first Sunday of Advent, but as a result of the very serious spike in Covid-19 cases in the Western Cape Metro, we have decided to delay all in-person activities. We will reassess this decision in the new year. In the meantime, we will continue to hold services via Zoom at 10 a.m. each Sunday. This will include the 10 a.m. Christmas Day Service. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the zoom link.
Please take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously. I know we are tired of it, but the hospitals in the Metro are once again being stretched to capacity. Positive cases are increasing, and people are dying. Let us therefore limit time in crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. This means that we should all be re-thinking our Christmas and New Year gatherings to make sure that they do not become Covid-19 catalyst events.
Finally, don’t forget to practice the Trinity: 1] mask up, 2] wash hands and 3] physical distance by 1.5 m.
The following is an extract from our Presiding Bishop, Rev Zipho Siwa’s, Conference address:
“I call on Methodist people to encourage the culture of appreciation and acknowledging the good that God is doing through His people. I call for a culture of blessing and not cursing; a culture of painting God’s world with beauty and spreading a transforming fragrance. I call on all of us to engage in healing conversations and speaking transforming words even to the timid and the wayward. Words have power to create a new culture and build new people; a transforming trajectory and transformative discourse. Indeed we are called to be a transforming discipleship movement.
The basis of our calling:
Our conviction as people of faith is that our life together can be better and our calling is ‘to reclaim Jesus’s ancient and compelling vision of the common good’ (Jim Wallis). The common good has become very uncommon, writes Jim Wallis in his recent book ‘The (un)common good.’ In many areas of our existence, self-interest and fighting for political ideology has replaced finding solutions to problems in a genuine way. In so doing human beings continue to inflict pain, suffering and destruction on each other. Seeds of division are sown every day of our lives in different forms of actions and words. These seeds germinate and grow and when we least expect, it show up in families, communities, churches and nations causing unending devouring of each other.
What can be done and what does the Lord require?
It is a community that responds to the prophet Micah’s words in 6:8: “The Lord has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Justice, mercy and a humble walk with God are highlighted as the marks of a transforming discipleship movement…
It is possible to walk nicely and be a nice ‘church’ – but without God. The target of this transforming discipleship movement is not just doing nice things, planting new churches, or simply adding numbers and having a strong financial base, but transformation of persons and creation for a better social reality.
Pope Francis, in his address from St Peter’s Square on 18 May 2013 said; “Today’s world stands in great need of witnesses, not so much of teachers but rather witnesses. It’s not so much about speaking, but rather speaking with our whole lives.”
A story from Brazil told by Jim Wallis, illustrates this point well. A community of subsistence farmers were about to lose their land to a big Government project. No amount of engagement or protests helped. Instead protests were met with violence; even death.
Then when a final vote was to be taken a group of mothers went to the area where the senators lived. They sat on the lawns in big numbers. When the wives of the Senators came to offer them food, they refused, and when offered money, they did not take it. When asked, what then do you want? They said; “we have come here to die with our children. We see this place as a nice place to die.”
It was then that the wives of the senators listened to their story and began telling their own stories as mothers. Then telephones started ringing in the corridors of power. The weeping together of the women; sounded a call to the corridors of power. Justice prevailed. The vote was not taken as the senators rushed back home to listen to the weeping of their wives and in the process heard the weeping of the wives of the poor and understood the pain their votes would have caused.
The church of Christ weeps together for justice and liberation from all that dehumanises. It is a church without Christ that does not weep and it is easy to become a church without Christ.”