From the Rector’s Desk 19.01.2020

This week we celebrate our Teachers, and all involved with Education. The School term has begun and what lies before us is the challenge of raising a generation who will have the means to deal with the world of tomorrow. We have some exciting prospects, as Church to get involved in a hands-on way in the education of our community.

Firstly – we send a number of our parishioners into the centers of learning every day. I ask you to pray for them as they use their God given gifts to educate the children of our community. They have many, many challenges and we as Church need to seriously get behind and support them in prayer and in action.

Secondly- we are facilitating a process to develop a Full-Service School and will be workshopping this with all our teachers and offering a plan to a local school to make this transition. A Full-Service School seeks to meet the needs of children with learning barriers in the school as opposed to sending them off to special schools. The ideology behind this and the Aims and the Objectives of the Department of Education are noble, and we can make a valuable contribution to this education initiative. I will be calling a workshop for all interested and affected parties as soon as Vestries are concluded.

Thirdly – Early Childhood Development: We support a Creche in Kwamakhuta and aim to continue to make a meaningful and effective contribution at this center of learning. We are also involved with well over 20 Early Childhood Development Centres through our Implementing Partner – Kingsburgh Child and Family Welfare. In this program we offer staff development, monitoring and evaluation and reading programs to Early Childhood Development Centres in the greater Amanzimtoti Area.

We are also looking at presenting an Adult Education Program (with a strategic partner) which teaches life skills, social skills and the basics of economics and ethics. This program is for young people who are doing an employment initiative in the Umbumbulu area.

We are looking for volunteers to get involved in these projects.

To all our learners, may this year be a time of great growth in your intellectual and spiritual lives. Take every opportunity to grow in wisdom and knowledge and remember the importance of play.

Be assured of my love and Prayers.

Rector.

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From the Rector’s Desk – 02.01.2020

Happy New Year!

May 2020 be filled with joy, peace, hope and opportunity to serve our God.

It’s the first week of January and we are still on our Christmas Recess.

Next week we will be back to work and school starts, and preparation for Vestries will be in full swing.

So, before the year gets going, take the time to breathe and relax a little and still your hearts. 2019 is behind us and a whole new year of exciting opportunities awaits us.

The Feast of Epiphany (6 January) will be celebrated on the Sunday (5th) and the Season ends on the 2nd of February. The Season focuses on the truth that Christ is manifest to humankind, to the world and to the entire creation. In the readings of the Season we catch a glimpse of the cosmic dimension of the work and achievement of Christ. The scriptures challenge us to reveal the truth through our own lives. (Lectionary)

As we seek to respond to that challenge, we must apply our minds to the leadership for 2020.

I always leave the election of Council to the laity of the Church, without interference from me, but I make this exception to ask you to consider that we need your input to ensure that a full council is elected in 2020. It is very difficult to function as the Church with a Council that does not represent all the aspects of parish life. The Guilds need to be represented; the Ministry needs to be represented. I can only encourage the MU, the AWF, the Youth, the Sunday School, the Lay Ministry Team, the Servers and the Sacristans to ensure that they nominate and vote in, a council member. Council is where the church should be managed from and it is very difficult to be effective without adequate representation. We have an effective administrator and the work of the Wardens is well supported and we are looking to a more positive year financially, but we need passionate leadership to grow the church and develop it. We have many new members and we need to be developing a contextual ministry that meets the needs of 2020 and beyond.

As Rector, I can build a team ministry if you, the laity, commit to being part of the leadership. Be assured of my prayers.

Remember that in 2020 we have an elective assembly and it is important that we use our vote wisely – and that starts with who you choose to represent you at Elective Assembly.

Remember they represent the parish and do not go with a mandate from you but need to discern God’s will at the Assembly.  

I look forward to seeing you all next week.

God bless!

Fr Andrew.

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From the Rector’s Desk – 29.12.2019

Christ the Lord is King and He reigns!
The Lord be with you!

It is the end of the year and a good moment to stop and give thanks to God for His many blessing in 2019. It’s been a tough year and we have journeyed to unexpected places in our life together.

I am grateful to the leadership for what we have achieved together.  I am grateful to the ministry team that preach, lead services, lead the music ministry, teach Sunday School, decorate the church and MAKE TEA and delicious cake! THANK YOU!

I am grateful to Kim, our Administrator, who has had a great deal to work through this year and has done so with grace and diligence and has shown incredible perseverance – THANK YOU!

I am inspired and grateful for the many new members that have joined us this year and look forward to 2020 with you all.

On this last Sunday of the Year I will be taking a personal day and enjoying being ministered to. I thank you all, for the opportunity to spend some time away with my family and rest, recuperate, and regenerate.

Be assured of my prayers for you all!

From one who serves among you.

Fr Andrew.

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From the Rector’s Desk 26-12-2019

Greetings and good tidings for all, the Lord is here and has made Himself known!

Throughout the year we have followed the directions that God has given us, in some way or other, and now during Advent and over Christmas we hear the message of the Angels – Christ is born in Bethlehem, and it is a time to respond.

Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened! (Luke 2:15).

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.

We have worked hard this year to address the challenges that we are facing as a nation. It appears that as the church we oscillate between focus on God and focus on people. We tend to look to God and try to do what He requires and force others to join us, or we try to focus on people and their hurts and needs and their brokenness.  And we ask ourselves “how do we hold onto God’s commandments and requirements and simultaneously serve humanity in love despite their disobedience?”

This is the way of the cross. 

Holding life in tension, and bearing its pain is the way of the cross. And the way of the cross begins in humility, in obscurity and in impossibility. “with man these things are impossible but with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26) to this life we are called to a life marked with miracles and the unordinary. A life where heaven and earth meet in the hearts and actions of common people. Where the sun shines through the clouds and “kingdom of God is near,” here but not yet. In this life we see that every act of obedience, every act of humility, every act of repentance, every act of love creates shafts of light where the Glory of heaven is displayed in human likeness, where Christ is revealed through us to the world.

May this Christmas resound with Angel song and the message of Good News. God is reaching out to the world and bringing salvation through His Son. This is our calling and in this our duty and our joy, we must persevere.

The way of Christ is not simply a joyful, kind, happy go lucky lifestyle. The way of Christ rises against injustice, it speaks out for the poor, it challenges the powers of this world. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of light and light dispels darkness. This is why in 2019 we have committed to community engagement and in 2020 we are going to work even harder to develop a ministry to and in the world. We must bring the love of God in shafts of light to a hurting and broken world. We must be a Christmas People.

 As we journey to the babe in Bethlehem may we receive a new vision for our lives, a life that is to grow in wisdom and stature as Jesus Himself did. (2 Luke vs 52).

May we give ourselves fully to the work of Jesus the Christ our King and live out our calling to be “Ambassadors of reconciliation” and live the Good News of God in every situation. The Good News that Jesus is the Christ and He Reigns,  He is the Messiah, He is the King, and He is saving the world.

May your faith be renewed and, may you live in the knowledge of the love of Christ. As we embrace our humanity and seek reconciliation with God, as we embrace our blessed position as heirs of the kingdom, but seek to live in humility, may the Spirit of God fill us with the power to do what God has commanded us to do, and may our response be – “I am the Lord’s servant,” …… “May your word to me be fulfilled.”  (Luke 1:38)

Merry Christmas

Rector

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The Priest’s Perspective: 24 – 12 – 2019

To the People of God.

Christmas is a special time of rebirth. I was baptized on Christmas Day 1970, and so for me it is my Christian birthday. I therefore share a birthday celebration with Jesus my Lord and Saviour – and being Human is very much a part of our lives in Christ.

There is much on my heart as we close off 2019 and look to the future, and to use Jesus words,” I have more to say to you than you can now bear,” but let me say this:

I ask your forgiveness for where I have failed us, for where I have not met your needs and for where I have been unable to adequately lead us through these troubled times. For the days that I have been impatient and taken my frustration with the world out on you, I am sorry.  In 2020 I pray that I will serve you better and be a better witness of God’s grace and love.

I continue to give thanks to God for you and I ask that we all fervently pray with thanksgiving for God’s mercy and grace. God has added to our number, He has opened doors to spread the love of Christ into the community and He is building bridges where we and our fellow South Africans have destroyed them.

We have carried each other’s burdens and grown closer as a community and the Two Church model is starting to bear fruit. As repeatedly said, we will continue to operate as two interdependent churches and next year we will be building stronger relationships with other parishes around us too.

We are a people of the Eucharist – we bring ourselves, our lives, our dreams, and aspirations and we lay them on the altar and there God blesses and breaks and distributes; giving to us a life in Christ and lived for each other. May we continue to see this truth manifest in our lives, that we who are many are one body!

I thank you all for the opportunity afforded to my family and I to take some family time, may you be blest this Christmas and may 2020 be filled with all the good things that God has in store for you!

Be assured of my love and Prayers.

Fr Andrew

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From the Rector’s Desk – 21.12.2019

Our King and Saviour draws near.

We are an Advent people! A people who understand life differently, an understanding derived from Scripture and wisdom passed down through the ages. A people who understand that we have “potential.” Inherent in us through the presence of God, is the potential for good, the potential for holiness, the potential for reconciliation, the potential for wholeness. Each and every day our acknowledgement of or enjoyment of the fullness of that potential is dependent on how much we focus on surrender to the will of God, the presence of God, and the centrality of Christ in our lives.  The science of it is that if we don’t use that potential, it doesn’t mean that it is absent but merely that it is not manifest.  When we fail to exhibit the likeness of Christ in our lives, it is not a sign of His absence, or distance, it is merely an indication of our inadequate surrender.

So, as we walk through life, let us be mindful of the opportunities to reveal Christ to the world. 

Opportunities to show hope, to shed light, to offer respite from the challenges of life, by providing insight into the true context of life: That God is, and was and is to be, and that we are created in His image, and reconciled to the Father, and are saved, but not yet made perfect! We are potential – and in Christ we can bring Light to the world.

This Advent let us surrender to God as Mary and Joseph did, as John the Baptist did, and with them bring glory to God by welcoming Christ into the world as the Word made flesh, incarnate, Immanuel – God with us.

Be assured of my prayers as we journey to Bethlehem and beyond.

Fr Andrew.

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From the Rector’s Desk 15.12.2019

My Soul gives glory to my God. My heart pours out its praise. God lifts my lowliness of heart in many marvelous ways. (Song of Mary)

The Lord be with You!

As I meditate on the Christmas story and journey through Advent, I am challenged to revisit my theology and my praxis (theology in action).

I realize again that the Christmas story is a reminder that God reveals Jesus the Messiah into a world that is broken and imperfect. Jesus was not born in the palace of Herod – but in stable for livestock. We all know the story, but are we truly living it. I find myself knocking on the inn door, refusing to accept that there is no room. I want to present Jesus to the world from a respectable place. From a place where we have funding, and no leaks in the roof, and leadership that encourages and not disappoints. A place where people long to experience Christ! And while I’m knocking at the inn, Jesus is born in the broken stable and I with the Pharisees and Sadducees am not visiting. It is only when we seek to follow God and go wherever He calls, when we say with Mary, “let it be to me as you have said” that the Christmas story becomes real for us.

Why do I seek perfection and only meet with disappointment, when the Christmas story is one of Jesus being revealed in the disappointment and bringing perfection.

I confess that I have wanted our Church to be “an INN” a respectable place for the presentation of Jesus. I confess that every time we show our brokenness as an organization and are better represented by a broken down stable, I am disappointed and doubt that Jesus can be revealed to the world through a Church that seems to be failing. Yet I realize that we, as we are, with all our challenges; are the broken-down place that God has chosen to reveal His Son to the World.

So let’s write ourselves back into the story and “treasure these things in our hearts” and welcome wise-men, and shepherds into our midst and show them that even though the world is too busy for Jesus, even though our society has no space for Jesus, even though we are being pushed further and further into obscurity – Jesus is here, Immanuel, Prince of Peace, in our midst.

Jesus was not born in the Temple Courts or the Palace of Herod but was laid in the manger. The hope of the world – enters into our weakness, our insecurity, our feebleness. The light of the world bringing life where we would least expect to find it.

May the Christmas story become a reality to you. May God find in us the “little nook” where He can break through our armor of ego and worldliness for Jesus to find a home in us, a hope in us, a place in us for God’s love to be conquer our lives and  overthrow the darkness of this world.

May the love of God dwell in you richly, and may you find peace in the hope of what God is revealing to the world through the broken but willing Church of God.

Rector. 

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From the Rector’s Desk – 08.12.2019

For unto us a Child is Born, and His Name shall be Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace.

The Lord be with you!

One of the great “thinking points” of Advent is that we start with the end in mind. Christ will come and stand on the earth and take dominion over all things. We long for that day. In the Bible it was this vision of the future that kept people hopeful through the darkest days. When we know how things end it gives us courage to face the journey between where we are and that end.

What is our vision of the end, not of all time – but of our own mortal lives? What do we see as our lasting impact, our impression on the world, our legacy?

So often life is not what we expected or how we expected it to be. When our lives are so wrapped up in the present that we can’t appreciate the past nor hope for the future, then we need to turn to Jesus and seek His healing.

When our lives are so wrapped up in the past that we cannot appreciate our present nor move into the future, then we need to turn to Jesus and receive healing and reorganize our lives.

When our lives are so focused on the future that we ignore our past and present then we are anxious and disillusioned.

We need balance – our Hope must be in Christ who is and who was and who is to come. In whom we can reinterpret our past and appreciate our present and live for the future. In this Advent, what life experiences do we need to reinterpret, what things have happened that we have failed to see God at work in? Understanding that God is ever present, and that Christ was at work in our joys and in our suffering, helps us to learn and to gain wisdom and encouragement. Some of my greatest failures were used by God to provide some of my greatest opportunities. It’s hard to see that in our current failures, but if we can recognize it in our past, we can understand it in our present.    

As we learn in the Eucharist, our past must be reinterpreted in our present with a hope in the future.

Being a Christian is not an easy or thoughtless existence. Every day we have to look at our whole lives and allow God to reorder our thinking and our perspective. Advent is a time of deep reflection it’s a time of traveling like the Wise men following a star to meet Jesus.

This Advent, experience forgiveness that will set you free from the pain of the past so that only the lessons remain.

This Advent allow Christ to restore your hope in the future so that you can reorder your affections and your desires and your actions and live towards that future!

This Advent allow the peace of God to rule in your hearts!

Our lives in Christ are lived in a ray of sunshine shining through dark storm clouds, let us fix our eyes on things above and live in the Hope and the joy and the peace that is ours through Jesus Christ.

Star of wonder star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading still proceeding, guide us to that perfect light! The Light of Jesus the Christ our Saviour!

Be assured of my prayers

Fr Andrew.

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From the Rector’s Desk – 01.12.2019

The Lord be with you!

Advent offers the Christian space to contemplate God’s work in time. It is a season which challenges us to look out over the whole course of history and remember that Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and in that to find HOPE that the purposes of God will be worked out in the fullness of time.

This Advent we are using the new resources of the Province which emanate from the process to renew our Prayer Book. Celebrating Sunday under African Skies in an African Voice is part of a process of enriching our Worship life through contextualizing and updating our liturgies.

This extract from the Resource helps to explain.

The Season of Advent is an opportunity for us to prepare to welcome the Christ Child in our midst yet again and to anticipate the second coming of Christ. The Theology of Advent involves the three comings of Christ – past, present and future. “in the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last He will appear as our life; in the middle coming, He is our rest and consolation.” At the heart of Advent is the theme of hope and expectation in the midst of waiting!

The imagery of Advent, with all the references to light in the midst of darkness, lends itself to the bleak midwinter of our sisters and brothers in the northern hemisphere. This imaginary is rather abstract in the midst of our Summer and so we have chosen to construct our Advent candles in a Southern Hemisphere constellation and develop a more authentic liturgy around that motif.

We have used it before, but the Advent wreath in the shape of the Southern Cross is a new idea to most of us and so I add some information to help you understand:

The constellation of stars known as the Southern Cross is made up of five stars commonly called: Acrux, Mimosa, Gacrux, Delta Crucis and Epsilon Crucis.  A cross with candles will represent this constellation. Two other stars known as the pointers, are represented by the two candles on the altar and this combination of stars is used by navigators to point to Due South.  The imagery is a wonderful way to contextualize our celebration and connect us with the wise men who followed the star to find Jesus in Bethlehem.

The candles light each week represent a different focus to our Advent journey

Advent 1: Acrux –   the growing light of the dawn of the Kingdom of God;

Advent 2: Mimosa – our need to expose sin to the light;

Advent 3: Gacrux – John prepared the way for the one who baptizes with Spirit and fire;

Advent 4: Delta Crucis – with Mary we carry the light of Christ in us

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: Epsilon Crucis: we refuse to forget who brings the light into the world.

I pray that as we celebrate Advent there will be a renewed joy, peace, hope and love in us as we welcome the King of Kings, and that the Southern Hemisphere imagery will help us to deepen our sense of the closeness of God to us.

May Christ, the Sun of righteousness shine upon you, scatter the darkness from your path and make you ready to meet Him when He comes in glory.

Be assured of my prayers

Rector

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From the Rector’s Desk – 24.11.2019

The Lord is King! He Reigns!

Today as we celebrate Christ the King, may we bow down in adoration at His feet and offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the King of Kings.

We have been working through the Book of Maccabees in our daily readings (the Deuterocanonical account of the Jewish community struggling with oppression around the years 167 to 151 BC).

The period of History is most important to us as it speaks of the struggle of the Jews to keep Holy in an unholy world and a world that sought, under Greek rulers, to get everyone to conform to the Hellenistic (Greek) way of life.  Reviewing the period also helps us to understand the world that Jesus was born into and why the Pharisees and Scribes and the Jewish leaders were so opposed to Him.  We need to understand our History, learn from it and live the present with wisdom. The Jews suffered to maintain their way of life and to stay true to God, they showed great courage and wrestled with how to remain true to God in a world that was against Him.   

We need to learn that our faith has to be “fought for” our way of life has to be “fought for,” not a violent fighting, but a passionate upholding of our values, a dedication to that which we believe, is serving God.

Our Weapon is love, mercy and hope! We are to resist the devil and he will flee from us. (James 4:7).

I want to encourage each and every one of you to persevere in the trials that you are facing, to accept the Lord’s discipline and to focus on the community of Christ and break out of the negative cycle of individualism. The world forces us to place ourselves at the center of our universe and to do everything with our own interests as our primary objective. God calls us to live as community, to put others first to consider others and to show love for others. We need to take the opportunities to put hospitality and love into practice with each other. We need to learn to consider others as more important than ourselves, (That means to ask “how will this affect them, and then think about how it will affect you”).

As we celebrate Christ the King, we need to realize that if Christ is King then we are His subjects. We need to serve Christ, to give ourselves fully to His purposes, to seek His will.

This Sunday is the last Sunday of our liturgical year and from next week we begin a new cycle, a new beginning. Let’s use it. Let’s change the conversation, Let’s put the negatives behind us let’s hold onto every good thing that God has done in our lives, let’s stop living in the past and look to the future, let’s build this community on the rubble of the past, allowing God’s reconciling love to permeate every aspect of our lives.

I am so grateful to God for all the good things that I hear and see that people from our community are doing. My heart is glad when I see people responding to the ministry of the Church and to the Love of God and making a difference in their daily lives. May God bless you!

The Lord is King! Let the earth rejoice!

Be assured of my prayers.

From one who serves among you.

Rector.

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