From The Rector’s Desk – 26 May 2019

Be strong and courageous, only be strong and very courageous, be strong and be courageous, do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1: 6a, 7a, 9b)

The Lord be with You!

As we admit our Council and Parish Wardens this morning, let us heed the call to be courageous for God. God is calling us to lead His people forward into the promised land – the Kingdom of God the place where His glory is revealed in the sight of all the peoples through His chosen ones. Let us remember that we are chosen to “Show forth the glory of God in the world.”

I pray that your faith will continue to grow and that the love that you have received from God will overflow into every area of your life and reveal the goodness of God to others.

As we move from the Season of the Resurrection appearances of Jesus, to the Season of Pentecost, my prayer for you is that your understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in your life will increase, and that you will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to give yourself fully to the work of God in your life. I have been repeatedly reminded this week of the importance of us seeing that we do not live for ourselves and that we are a community of believers and that we are here for each other and that our life of common prayer holds us together.

Romans 14: 23b says that ” whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” this means that every action of ours must be built on and have its purpose in strengthening our faith and the faith of others. As disciples of Jesus our decision-making matrix must be built on asking the question – what does this action of mine say about my faith, how does this statement of mine reveal what I believe about God about myself and about others. If everything that we do is an act of faith, we will be pleasing to God and beneficial to each other. How is your faith living out in your life? When people interact with you – can they see what you believe?  {I encourage you to read Ephesians 4:17-32 daily this week}

My prayer for you as witnesses to the greatness and the glory of God is that you will reveal to the world the reality of forgiveness, that leads to reconciliation that leads to joy. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, then you must die to them too. If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, then you too must rise above the temptations of this world. If you believe that Jesus ascended, then you to must ascend and keep your eyes on things above (Col 3:1-3). If you believe that the Holy Spirit has come and is the power of God at work in you, then give yourself to the work of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1,2).

The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Phil4:23)

Rector.

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From The Rector’s Desk – 19 May 2019

To the People of God in the Parish of the Amanzimtoti, Church of the Good Shepherd. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Alleluia. 

I thank you all for the prayers for my family over the last two weeks, during our time of illness.  Many people have suffered from this “flu” and bronchitis and the road to recovery seems slow, so I ask you to continue to pray for us and all those affected. 

I wish to thank you for your generosity to us and for the Easter offering that we received, it is much appreciated. I also wish to thank those that contributed towards Moses’ (our verger) flood relief fund. 

At present a few of our leaders are participating in a Mission and Ministry course, together with the Methodist Church, and I am delighted by what we are learning and what we can incorporate into our life together as the People of the God of Mission. Our plan is, to on completion of the course roll out a revised Ministry Action Plan for the church, built on what we have learned.  

An area where I still need to increase understanding of our ministry as a Church is in terms of our environmental and youth involvement in the community.   Our Social responsibility ministry through the Kingsburgh Child and Family Welfare Society, is going from strength to strength. Interaction through these organizations is how we do ministry in the community and a better understanding of our partnership with other civic organizations is required. 

We have unfortunately had a spate of break ins on the church grounds this week, and this has resulted in some extra expenses. We have had to increase security and will need to look at some long-term plans. Please continue to pray for a resolution to the problems at 81 Fynn rd. The Parish is under great financial pressure, due to that rental not being paid. We are working hard to resolve the issues, and ask for your continued prayers. 

May God continue to lead us by His Holy Spirit and equip us to do the good works prepared in advance for us to do, to bring his light and his love to his community of Amanzimtoti. 

Rector. 

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From the Rectors Desk 10 May 2019

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

When you read this our country will be preparing for the “reign” of its 6th parliament and will know how many seats each political party holds. The consensus is that the country is nothing like the country we envisaged in 1994, and sadly we lack the maturity that we should have as a democracy. What concerns me is that the victims of the failure of the State are the ones who get caught up in the incited violent protests, and those that we should be truly listening to, are discredited for the “way” that they give voice to their disillusionment. The low standard of education and the slow economic development are a recipe for the predicament we find ourselves in.

I know that as a Church we need to be doing so much more in terms of social development in this country, and hence my commitment to the NGO sector involved in Community Welfare and the Environment. In both sectors I hope to lead our local organizations to focus more on sustainable development. Social outreach must mean community development and our projects through Kingsburgh Child & Family Welfare must take a more proactive approach to upliftment. The plastic crisis provides a huge opportunity for product development from the most renewable resource currently available on the planet. On Monday I am attending a Think Tank on Plastic management for the South Coast.

The Theology behind my emphasis in this is that we are the people of the Resurrection called not just to believe, but to put into action what we believe. We are called to be the light of the world, bringing the light of Christ into the darkness of this world. Again, I ask you to tune your ears to the voice of God. What is God saying through the hurting, the poor, and the disenfranchised? As we read through Daniel at present, we hear how God dealt with the rulers of Persia who subjugated His people and grew arrogant. We need to continue to be a people of hope bringing the Hope of the resurrected Lord into every aspect of life. Let us not put our trust in princes, (politicians) but in God. Putting our trust means acting in faith in what God is doing and not being affected by the failures of humankind to rule itself fairly and efficiently. Of course, this means looking past people’s mistakes and inadequacies and working with each other to build a country on Kingdom values.

Be assured of my prayers.

Rector.

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From The Rector’s Desk 3 May 2019

Christ is risen!

This week is an important week in our country, as we go to the polls. We must remember though that we are ambassadors to this land and we are no more of this world than Jesus is. We are sent to bring the Kingdom of God into our communities and live according to His will. So let us pray for peace, let us pray for calm, let us pray for wisdom. But it is not the government that will change the fortunes of South Africa, it is its people. We must strive to live out God’s mandate of love of neighbour and enemy, of “ earth keeping” of justice and mercy. We must build the country, family by family community by community. As always I encourage you to be part of building the country that you want to live in right here in our parish. Participate in its life, know Jesus and make him known, be the community of Christ in the world in the church and in the streets and in the workplace. May God guide you and fill you with his love and may you know the length, depth, width and height of His love and may you show that love to the world.

We pray for our province which has suffered much these last few weeks. The devastating floods the  riots and strikes and damage to our community. We pray for those who have lost loved ones in this time.

We are doing a special collection

for Moses (our verger) , who lost his home in the floods. We are looking for kitchen utensils, household goods and clothing. We need to raise money too to buy building materials. Please assist in rebuilding his home.

Rector

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Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

My prayer for you is that the stone will have been rolled away and that the new life of the resurrection will be made real to you. The resurrected life is the life of discipleship and as we journey through Eastertide and the Season of Pentecost, we will be looking at the issue of walking with the Resurrected Lord, as His disciples.

The Resurrected Lord: reinstated Peter, showed Thomas the nail marks in His Hands, ate with His disciples , broke bread with them and  came and stood among them, though they were locked away – for fear of their persecutors. May the Lord do all these things for you personally. Jesus appeared to many people after His resurrection, I pray that He will be evident to you, and though some doubted, I pray that you will be convinced, by His love for you.

Over the next six weeks the leadership will be studying the Mission of the Church in a joint venture with the three Methodist congregations. Fresh Africa, comes out of the Anglican Movement Fresh Expressions, and has been contextualized for us in Africa as an ecumenical ministry. You will be hearing a lot more about Mission and Ministry, and my prayer is that we will deepen our relationship with God and serve Him well in this place.

I want to say a very big thank you to all who worked so hard to make our Easter programme a success, I am deeply grateful for the huge amount of effort put into the Passover Meal and to the youth for their input. May God bless you abundantly.

I remind you that Kim is on a well-deserved break, and the Office will only have limited functionality. I ask you to continue to pray for her, and give God thanks for her incredible service to our parish. 

There will be no midweek services this week. Rev Peta is also away for a while, and we wish her and Rob a happy holiday.

As we continue to Walk with Jesus and in Him and with Him and Through Him live out the Kingdom in this place, May God be gracious to us and make His face shine upon us and give us peace.

God be praised, for His goodness to us!

Rector

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Holy Week – 19 April 2019

It’s not surprising that there are so many books available on the life and times of Jesus the Christ covering His birth, ministry, death and resurrection . And it is not surprising that these books do not exhaust the topic. I pray that over this Holy Week you will deepen your relationship with God and grow in your understanding of His Grace.

This Easter I want to focus on the fact that the whole story of Easter must be celebrated and understood in the context of the resurrection, but that every step leads to resurrection. Unless we grow in our understanding of the events that led up to the Resurrection, we won’t understand it.

We must be aware that for Jesus and the Disciples, Easter wasn’t a week interspersed with a number of longer than usual church services, it was one long journey – and ordeal… We have tried to keep that in our minds as we celebrate the” Triduum” from Maundy Thursday through Good Friday and into the Easter Vigil. What we call the Foot washing service, Good Friday and the Lighting of the Fire on Holy Saturday. It is really one continuous event. As we break this down, we will deal with each step of the journey that Jesus took to the Tomb and the stone that rolled away.

Each service will be about God preparing your heart to be transformed by His love and sacrifice and the “Stone being rolled away.”

I pray that you will experience “the full extent of Jesus love – as He washes your feet… through the hands of others.

I pray that you will experience the depth of His love as His hands which flung stars into space, are to cruel nails surrendered.”

I pray that you will recognize yourself in each character portrayed in the Narrative and see how God is continually calling you closer, showing you His love encouraging you and giving His all for you.

Very often Easter can slip into a morbid and gruesome remembrance of Jesus physical suffering, and it is important that we know that there was indeed a great amount of suffering, but this suffering was not a loss nor a defeat that was overcome on Sunday at the resurrection. It was in this very death and embracing humanity at its worst that Jesus won the battle. The Triduum isn’t something that must merely be endured to get too the joy of the Easter Resurrection! Each action, each event, each part of the journey is Jesus winning. He wins when He reorders the Passover meal, He wins when He faces up to the challenge in the Garden on the mount of olives, He wins when He stands trial and is declared to be without fault by Pontius Pilate, He wins when He carries His cross, He wins when Simon carries it for him, he winds when he speaks from the cross forgiving sin and glorifying God, he wins when he breaths His last, He wins when He is laid in the tomb. HE wins when He is resurrected!

How can that be, suffering is not winning, death is a defeat, the cross is an instrument of torture and shame, how can it be a win?  Because when Jesus eats the Passover He is showing His love, when He washes their feet He is showing His love, when He prays in the garden He is showing His love, when He accepts arrest He is showing His love when He accepts condemnation He is showing His love, when He spreads out His hands He is showing us love, when He speaks seven times from the cross He is showing His love and when He breathes His last He is showing His love, and love wins. The cycle of violence and retribution is ended, the patter of vicious power and peace through fear is ended. Jesus has won the victory.

On Wednesday the Clergy all renew their ordination promises and commit to serving God through His Church. On Saturday we will all renew our Baptismal promises and recommit to serving God. I pray that you will do so with the intent to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength.

So let us learn how to love and how to serve and how to reorder our lives that we may be effective in our witness to God and give ourselves as living sacrifices as we profess to do.

Whose feet do you need to wash?

Whose betrayal do you need to forgive?

What do you need to re-prioritize in your life, to receive the resurrection and live for Jesus?

Easter is a time of renewal may you experience it in all its fullness,

A blessed Easter to you!
Rector.

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From The Rector’s Desk – 14 April 2019

One thing that Palm Sunday always reminds me of is that in life there are always two narratives going on, the one is about what I think is going on, one filled with what I think is grandeur, glory and personal fulfillment, filled with palms and shouts of hosanna and a crowd marching, and the other is about what God is doing, about what is really going on, humility and self sacrifice and giving, and love for others, as God intervenes in our everyday lives and reorders, rearranges and re-prioritizes our existence. Walking with Jesus means that very often we won’t understand what is going on immediately, we won’t gather the full meaning, until after the fact, but Jesus knows exactly what He is doing and  why He is doing it, when He is doing it. Going into Jerusalem that day the people were welcoming their King, ( an act that could have caused the Romans to send out the troops and squash a potential rebellion) but  Jesus didn’t stop them even though they didn’t understand exactly what was about to happen, in fact He said that the very stones would sing, if the people refrained.

When one knows the outcome, the way that we approach things is very different to when we are uncertain of the outcome. Our expectations of someone or something contribute to how we react and interact with the situation. Those that we read about in scripture did not have the luxury of knowing the outcome, even though it had been foretold. We do know, and so that way that we should approach the story, the narrative is to allow our certainty to change the way that we act when faced with the Narrative of God saving the world.

On Palm Sunday the people laying down their cloaks, were welcoming their King who was coming to overthrow the Roman Government.  A King coming to fulfill an ancient prophecy that they would be re-established as the political power of Israel, overthrowing the Romans and establishing the Kingdom of God. They were partly right! As Jesus entered Jerusalem He was coming to overthrow, but not the Roman Government, not earthly power, but the power of sin and death, the kingdom of this world was to be overthrown and the Kingdom of God re-established and He Himself would sit on the throne not in the earthly Jerusalem but in the New Jerusalem. King’s coming to celebrate victory would ride a white horse; King’s coming in peace would ride on a donkey.  Jesus is coming in humility, with great power, the power over death, hatred, fear,  abuse of power, self centeredness, and the desire for personal gain that leads to corruption. Jesus comes with the power of love!

So often in our own lives we are praising God expecting things to be done in a certain way only to find that what God is doing is much bigger and much broader with eternity in mind and not just the immediate. Power to give and to love not to overthrow and to dominate.

Palm Sunday is a great reminder that the narrative that we author in our own lives normally differs greatly from the narrative that God is unfolding in our lives. 

Jesus comes with great courage, He comes in love and gives Himself for the world.

If we are to walk with Jesus then we are to have great courage, and humility, and obedience to God and a willingness to serve others, even our enemies, sharing in Jesus’ death and then in His resurrection.

This Holy Week allow God to re-order your life story, to change your perspective on what life is all about. The hope for the world lies in a self-sacrificing love for the world , allow God to re-order your religion as He clears the Temple, weep with Jesus over Jerusalem (as you weep for our country and our world) allow God to re-order your life and to redefine your freedom as you share the Passover meal, allow God  to put to death the power of this world over your life on the Cross that sets you free, so that you can recommit to God as you  re-discover what it means to be crucified with Christ and resurrected in Him.

A blessed Holy Week to you!

Fr Andrew.

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From The Rector’s Desk 31 March 2019

Lent is a time of joining Jesus in the wilderness. As city dwellers it is easy for us to misunderstand wilderness. In the city we tend to think of it as the open spaces up at Hluhluwe, Umfolozi and St Lucia iSimangiliso

But in fact wilderness is not just the undeveloped areas of our world, the wilderness remains it abides beneath our concrete buildings and tar roads – it underpins our development – so too in our spiritual lives our wilderness is what we are developed on! Not separate, not over there, but in our soul, holding the facade of our worldly lives, which are built on consumerism and political aspirations and desires for personal gain. It is here to the depths of our own lives, to the solid rock beneath our intellectual perceptions of what life is all about, that we must return to get a better picture, a true version of our life story.  In Jesus’ time in the ‘Wilderness’ He was tempted by three things, but these temptations were not only in the wilderness, you will see this pattern of facing up to these three challenges throughout His ministry. We need to see that the 40 days in the wilderness were not a once off event, but the principle of a lifetime

We read in Luke that Jesus was Baptized by John in the Jordan and then led by the spirit into the wilderness. We need to move beyond the idea that Jesus’ baptism was merely  “An event”….. We need to move beyond wilderness as “an event” …..that on completion the box was ticked and the victory won and the deed done and then He and we moved on!

 But as we confess in our own lives – Baptism is not the rite of a moment but the principal of a lifetime. Wilderness is the Principal of a lifetime…. 

The three challenges that Jesus faced and that we face daily are the three things that Israel had failed to overcome in its history. Jesus was showing us that these three have to be overcome. To walk with Jesus means to get these three things right!

Jesus was asked. Will you use your power to serve yourself, to meet your own immediate physical needs” – and He said  – NO -life is about more than food and drink . What do you say?

Jesus was asked. “Don’t you want power and authority in the world and over the world.” And He said – “I will worship the Lord my God and serve Him only, I will not demand power for my own use. What about you?  What authority and power are you seeking in the world?

Jesus was challenged to test God’s promises to the test, and He said No!  What about you? Are you continually asking God to prove Himself to you?  Demanding that God does what you need so that your following Him achieves your life’s dreams?

These are our daily challenges and we face them all the time.

 Jesus is living intentionally – life is not just happening to Him.  He chooses and He chooses to serve the Lord His GOD.

During Lent we are reminded of life’s temptations to make life all about the here and now and all about the me!

During lent we practice disciplines that help us to identify with the needs of others, and overcome our self-centeredness.

During lent we seek to deepen our understanding of God as we dig deeper into scripture, focus more on the work of God in our lives – not as a once off 40 day duty, but as the principal of a life time.

A time of deepening our spiritual walk and not just sticking some spiritual things onto our worldly lives – making new space going deeper and being transformed. Lent is about, finding the wilderness that lies beneath the life that we have created, the plans we have made, the distractions that we have filled our lives with, and building a new life on a solid foundation.

God has called you and He will not fail you. Are you building principals of a lifetime, are you forming life time habits, are you re-arranging your life this Lent? I pray that you are and that you will experience a new joy in serving Christ, because of it.

Be assured of my prayers!

Rector  



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From The Rector’s Desk 24 March 2019

The roar of the neighbour’s generator is becoming a familiar sound. We plan our days around when the darkness will come, and how long the battery will last and what won’t work when. The network has been down regularly and so our regular means of communicating, be it phone or email is affected too.

On top of the complete disruption to the economy through load shedding which brings business to a stand still for at least two hours at a time and sometimes twice or three times a day, the taxi association and other unions have strikes and protests planned for around the country. It seems the country is taking giving things up (like everything) for lent quite seriously, and living simply may well take on a new meaning all together.

Meanwhile the allegations of corruption go on and on, and no sign yet that anyone will be held accountable, as some of these accused have still been presented as candidates for government in the upcoming elections.

These are dark days, I’ve moved out of my office, because it is totally dependent on artificial light, and is rendered useless half the morning and afternoon. Even my regular early morning work time has been affected with the 4-6am predawn blackout.

And so, we adjust. Fortunately, I had already started a new reading campaign – and using good old books means that any sunny spot will do (till Eskom announces Stage 8 and turns the sun off for two hours at a time) but I’m loving the reading time. I pray that you have found a way to “turn to good” the interruption and forced amendment to your schedule.

Every LENT is an opportunity to rearrange your lifestyle. I hope you are using the opportunity.

You know Jesus lived in dark days too. There was no load shedding but they had their own unsolvable problems and a growing sense of dread. Jesus Himself said that that generation would have to change its ways or be destroyed (The Sign of Jonah).

If ever there was a time to ask yourself what difference your faith makes, it’s now. Ahead of us lie some of the greatest challenges we will have to face. And yet they are challenges that every generation has had to face. Will we be given to despair and overcome with hopelessness or will we rise to the challenge and give of our best. What does it mean to follow Jesus in a world that is falling apart around us? What visible signs of God’s reign will we manifest in these times?

We need to get our “vision,” our understanding of God and His plan, right. We need to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, to see that the imperialistic ideals of Christianity that we cling to, are false; it was that desire for a political, powerful saviour (the concept that the Messiah would be a righteous world leader) that caused people to follow Jesus and then crucify Him. Jesus said that He was not coming to rule as an earthly power, but that He was bringing a new order. Built on love for God and love for neighbour.  As we turn our minds to God’s great saving love – who are we seeking it for? For ourselves alone or for all creation? For those who meet our requirements,  or for all creation? For those who agree with us, or for all creation? Loving nice people is hard enough, but God calls us to love our enemies. It’s time we really discovered what love really means. Compassion – yes we must have compassion on others. But to love them means to desire God’s mercy for them. For us to stand in the gap and pray fervently for their salvation. While we pray for our enemy’s demise, we are not acting in unison with the Kingdom of God. While we are judging others, we are not acting consistently with the Kingdom of God. While we are setting our own requirements for who should receive God’s salvation, we are not acting consistently with the Kingdom of God.

Who do you need to change your attitude towards? Who has God identified as someone needing His love – by you thinking of them as an enemy?

This Lent may we seek salvation for all creation. With Compassion and a desire for the love of God to shine though us into the hearts of others.

I wish you a blessed and transformative Lent.

Rector.

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