From the Rector’s Desk – 27.03.2020

Lock-down day one.

I wonder if we are all pressed with the question of our relevance. When there are troubles, I am sure we all at some level want to be part of the solution. We want to do something constructive to save the day. And here we sit at home. Most of us, while the few – and our prayers are with them, but we can’t even shake their hands and say thanks. Can’t treat them to a beer after work. Can’t have them over for a braai (shis’nyama) on Sunday afternoon, can’t call them up for prayer at the front of the church on Sunday morning. We feel left out. Excluded. And yet at this point that is the sacrifice that we must make. A withdrawal from our normal for the sake of the world. Today we commit to life unusual. Today we commit to forgoing our activity, for the sake of others. It’s called a living sacrifice. It’s a normal Lent activity, and God calls us to it.

But it doesn’t feel normal.

The disciples must have been feeling good about journeying with Jesus and seeing Him gain popularity and the growth in understanding that He was the Messiah. He had even started acting more like the Messiah as He healed and challenged the Jewish authorities and questioned them as to who they thought He was. (Luke 9:19)

It must have been a shock to hear Him speak of being handed over to the authority of this world. (Luke 9:22) It must have been a shock when He spoke of dying instead of being crowned with glory. 

A bit like now. Just when the church should be feeding the hungry, healing the sick, burying the dead, baptizing new members, we are in the hands of a Secular government, taking orders from them. And they are doing a really good job, by the way. Our leaders have shown a maturity above their party politic antics which have dominated our conversation around the leadership of this country. But this situation has highlighted many, many, social ills in our country. A situation like this has the ability to show up all one’s flaws. Our own leadership crisis in the church has been highlighted too, sadly, we see that we have been left wanting.

We are reminded of something that only we can do. And that is truly, intercede for our nation. I’m talking about more than forwarding positive thoughts, I’m talking about more than social media posts of pictures and encouraging words. I mean heart felt, heart driven authentic prayer – in your upper room where nobody is pressing like or share and no tally of how many views is seen.

Never before has social media been so useful to the church. But Social media is the platform it is not the prayer. We need to ensure that we are authentic in prayer.  That we a sincere in prayer. That we are holy in prayer.

Prayer, real authentic prayer is what is going to hold us together connecting us to God and to each other. Our understanding of and use of prayer has to grow out of this situation. Our Corporate prayer is a matter of praying the same thing, as opposed to being in the same building when someone prays. Our Corporate prayer is being unified in purpose. And our Morning and Evening prayers aim to unify us. By the way you don’t have to log into the online prayers, although you are very welcome – but if you can’t then at 8am and at 4pm get out your prayer book and your bible and read the daily readings and pray the APB prayers. (If you don’t have a Prayer book – just do the readings).

If you have access, go onto the website and get the 24/7 prayer guides to help you.

The most important things to do to help you to truly live this experience is to understand that God is in this. God works all things for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28). We must use this time wisely to reorder our lives. As a civilization we cannot just be waiting this out to carry on as we did before. The Church has the most important role to play in listening to God in this time and reordering our lives. Or lives must center around prayer – and we need to learn what that means.

Our lives must center around the daily readings and listening to God through them.

I think of St Paul, writing to the Churches from His gaol cell. I think of St John writing to the churches from Patmos. I think of Jeremiah and Isaiah and Amos and Habakkuk, all speaking to God’s people out of their challenging circumstances. You too are a Jeremiah. Your life is a living letter, your actions in your own home are “God’s way of living in the world” (To use Thomas Keating’s phrase). We are in Christ, living out God’s love in the world.

I remind you again that many people throughout the ages have chosen “self-Isolation” as the best way to serve God. Choose to serve God today by dedicating yourselves to this one thing.

Acknowledging that you are in Christ and He is in you and that your life, especially today, is being used by God to reorder, to refurbish the world. In God’s plan -whatever you are doing today, whatever today holds in-store for you – God wants to use it to show His mercy, His love, His presence and His grace.

Pray for those who are going out to deliver essential services today. Pray for those who are serving God from home today. Pray for those who are alone today, those who are afraid. Love God’s people and pray for them. God’s love drives out fear (1 John 4: 18).

Don’t focus on what you are secluded from – focus on what you are secluded for.

Choose faith not fear.

Be assured of my prayers for you.

Rector.

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From the Rectors Desk – 25.03.2020

Church of the Good Shepherd.

We are a very busy people. We have our routines and we have our purpose; we have someone who we report to and that has expectations of us. And that is all about to change. Many people have made these changes already, working from home is not unheard-of, remote offices are a thing! And it seems as if we are just meant to slot into a new way of living, stress free and without missing a beat. 

Go home and get on with life is what we are told. But it is no easy task. For people of faith the biggest challenge is that our means of leaning on our faith has been robbed from us. We are people of habit and our ability to deal with the stress of life is strongly attached to our ability to go to church on Sunday, to sing some uplifting hymn, have the scriptures read, hear a sermon, feel encouraged, and feel surrounded by the love of fellow believers.

For many Anglicans deviating from pg 104 is more than we can handle and now we have all this. For many of us the stress of having all this overload of information and virtual content is stressful. The constant ping of our phones with another message albeit of encouragement is stressful. The thought of going to the shops or not going to the shops is stressful. The unfamiliar is stressful, the familiar is stressful, and we wonder how we are going to get through it.

Together! We are still a community, and we will get through this together. Reading the bible is not just a dutiful and good thing to do – it is informative. When the people of the Old Testament had the Temple destroyed by their enemies and their way of worship was destroyed, they struggled. They were physically taken into a strange land as you are being figuratively taken into a strange land.  But they worshipped God in a strange land although they did not know how to. Today every scripture reading you read is about your life, the bible does not just provide someone else’s story for you to compare with, I have repeatedly told you this but now it is more obvious than ever.

The Psalmist longs to return to Jerusalem God’s chosen place to reveal Himself and to dwell with His people. May those Psalms and the Prophets truly speak comfort to you. Wisdom to you, guidance to you.

Just this morning it was announced that the number of infected is 709.

A few practical things:

You will receive messages on multiple platforms – (WhatsApp, Facebook, Email etc); that is because not everyone has access to everything, but we have to send it out on all platforms to reach everyone.

Please note:

This Rector’s Desk will be emailed and sent via WhatsApp Wednesday’s and Friday’s. It will also be available on the website. Please feel free to share it.

Our “Morning and Evening Prayer broadcasts” will begin Thursday afternoon and will be broadcast on Zoom Tuesday to Friday at 08h00 and 16h00. We will send a WhatsApp out to invite you to join the prayer meeting. You will need to download Zoom from the App Store. 

The Pew Bulletin will be emailed out on Fridays as usual. Notices and bible readings and prayers for the week will be included therein.

The Office will be closed and should you wish to Phone you will need to phone on the Office WhatsApp number (031 916 2777) or phone me on 082 370 4702.

I am told that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Let’s look carefully at what we do then in the days ahead, because we could form good or bad habits, that’s up to us! Be assured that we have a team that is working hard to assist you (and working out innovative ways to do it) to journey with you and support you. 

We know that these are trying times and that we are all under financial stress. But I remind you that the church still has bills to pay and your tithes and offerings pay those bills. Please use internet banking to make your contributions.  

Parish of Amanzimtoti 

FNB– Galleria: 22 01 27 

Account: 552 457 835 49

May Christ the light of the world illuminate your path and lead you in righteousness and console you and give you wisdom. 

Rejoice, again I say Rejoice! For the Lord our God will give us strength and power and wisdom and hope and life in abundance!

Choose Faith not Fear!

Rector.

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From the Rector’s Desk – 20.03.2020

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

The Church is still open, the Kingdom is still at work. Worship is still happening. Prayers are being said and “we who are many are one body for we are all in Christ we are His body we are the consecrated we are blessed and broken and sent.”

When the Temple was destroyed (you can choose which time as your example) and central worship was ceased, the Church lamented and mourned and feared. How do you hold a society together without the central ICON of its existence in place? And yet it was in these times that people had to reorder their worship, rethink their relationship with God and had to interact with the world differently. It was in exile that God was renewing his Church. It is in this time that each one of us needs to take responsibility for our relationship with God and for respond to the privilege that comes with salvation.

We decided to close our churches before the Diocese made that decision. And here’s why.

This is what LENT is truly about – a wilderness, a different, a deeper experience of alone time with God, reordering our lives.  And Secondly, we are saying to the world – we are with you in this. We are not given into fear, but we are definitely not given to arrogance. As an act of compassion and empathy, we are going to reorder our lives.

We Celebrate Easter and the Resurrection every Sunday, and so this is just an extension of Lent that is occurring. Like when God extended the period of Exile as recorded in Isaiah.

Please don’t say this is unprecedented – it is not – we have faced many plagues before and we have been taken into the wilderness many times before – This year Lent is not just a symbolic gesture – it is real. Withdrawing from our normal routines is not a gesture  – it is real. Do not miss the reality of the opportunity that we have been given. Read your Scripture and you will see that this is not unprecedented. Our failure, God’s mercy, The Spirit leading us into the wilderness. Our doubt, our grumbling, our fear, are all part of the process of God redeeming us, saving us and equipping us for what he wants from us. 

You are going to be tempted to fear. You are going to be tempted to give in. But this is a time for deep reflection and prayer. And its real. And I, as your Priest, am write here… no that’s not a spelling mistake – I am right here at the other end of a text or an email or a social media post. Let’s interact.

The Following steps are going to be implemented during this time of “exile.” This is the greatest opportunity I have seen in my lifetime to truly do LENT! Jesus is drawing us aside from everything that we are familiar with to reorder our lives and deepen our Worship and Faith.

  • I encourage every single person to take a prayer book home and use the Daily Offices and Lectionary readings to spend time in corporate prayer. (In other words praying the same thing reading the same scripture. We should have been doing this anyway!) It is this shared life of daily prayer and scripture reading that should be holding us, the Church, together.

We will send out messages of encouragement and guidelines to do this. Very few people have studied or used the Prayer Book effectively and this is our chance to really take this central part of our community life seriously.

We are in the process of setting up daily Morning and Evening Prayers which will be broadcast on the social Media Platform – ZOOM. You can download Zoom on your smart phone or computer.

I will send out details on Tuesday about the times – so please notify me if you would be interested in joining this initiative.

  • We will send out three messages per day on the Parish Notifications WhattsApp. To keep people informed and hold us together in the journey. We are going to ease into a new way of doing things – because I want it to be sustainable. These are not interim measures either. I want us to develop new worship habits in the next three weeks. I want us to BE CHURCH 24/7 and then make Sundays our celebration of being that Church.
  • I encourage you to journal during this time. You don’t have to write reams and reams – just jot short notes. “How am I feeling,” What is God saying to me?” “What challenges am I facing?”
  • From Tuesday 24th St Mary’s will remain open, daily from 8 to 12. People may come and pray and partake of the blessed sacrament – using a liturgy provided. It is suggested that when you go out to the shops or do other essential trips, you go via the church too and you may take the Consecrated Host back to your family and share in the communion at home.    
  • Please send prayer requests to the Church Office.
  • A team of Pastoral Carers will be in contact with you, message or a telephone call just to see how you are doing.
  • Should you require assistance in any way please message me on my 24/7 0823704702 number.
  • Shopping is something that we still all must do and everyone is doing everything to make that possible. If you are in self quarantine and need your shopping done – please contact the office. (We also need volunteers to assist with this).
  • You are the Church- you need to look at the needs of your community (Work, street, complex) and find ways of loving and caring and serving. I urge especially the youth to find ways to use this time constructively. Don’t just binge watch U-Tube – set your self a goal for this time and be constructive.

Finally my brothers and sisters, be patient. Change is never easy, and it is always unsettling. But it is “the way of Lent.”

Matthew 6:6 – But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Be assured of my prayers.

Rector.

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From the Rectors Desk – 19 March 2020

To the people of God in the Community of Amanzimtoti: Church of the Good Shepherd and St Mary’s Kingsburgh

Greetings in the wonderful Name of Jesus Christ!

Choose faith not fear! We have to show leadership here! We have to care for others more than for ourselves! We have to be a good witness to the world!

In consultation with the leadership of the Parishes I am calling on the Church to drastically take to heart the current situation and to respond by showing leadership in our community and to be a great witness to the love, compassion and faithfulness of God.

The steps that I am proposing are not taken out of fear, but out of a boldness to show that compassion of God’s people. This is not about us. This is not about how we can carry on doing the same old things under difficult circumstances – this is about how we can show the light of Christ in the world by thinking of others as more important than ourselves.

We stand in solidarity with those whom this virus has caused to spiral into fear and those for whom it means financial ruin and for those who will die during this time.

We, as is our Lent tradition, enter into this wilderness to seek God and to deepen our relationship with him. This is a moment to be tested and to overcome those tests by trusting in God, by being obedient to God. This is our moment of Exodus. The plague, the angel of death the red sea symbolising the barrier to our path, the thing that we can’t see how we will get past, they are all there for us to plainly see. This is a time to be the church as opposed to go to church. This is not about attendance at services it is about being of service to the world.

I am calling on each and every Church member to “Be the Church in the Community!”

This means identifying the needs in your street, complex, office block and place of residence.

Identify the vulnerable and see how you can assist. Identify the afraid and share hope, identify the lonely and love them. Let us be the Church where we are.

The agreed upon approach to addressing the COVID 19 pandemic is “Social distancing.” And it is this principal that we intend to work with to show leadership in our broader community.

This Sunday communion will be taken in one kind and you will queue in a line and not kneel at the altar rail to receive. The church will be a no contact zone and you should sit one meter apart in the pews. You will feel awkward, you will feel unhappy – carry this pain, feel it and give it to Christ. Our prayers are to feel the pain of the world and to present that to God and ask him for healing. Not just for COVID 19 but for every contributing factor that got us here. COVID 19 is not the cause of our woes, our sinful natures are, a sinful world got us here and a righteous Church will call on a righteous God to hear our prayer and heal our land.

This is an opportunity for repentance and reordering of the whole world. Community by community. This is a time to rethink every aspect of our lives and to present our fears our pains our concerns and our plans to God.

This Sunday we will not serve tea or have fellowship after the service. (A common practice in many churches during lent anyway).  

The Passover Meal has been moved from the church into your homes. We ask each and every family to celebrate this festival in your own home. We will send guidelines on how to do that.

In principal we have suspended all Contact Services until the 21st of April at which time we will review the situation. This means that we will find a different way to have corporate worship. Instead of gathering at the Church, we will develop a virtual service mechanism. You will receive more information, in due course.

I urge you to not just run off to another church for Easter, but to give yourself fully to the task at hand. Make your home a place of worship, sign the threshold of your home with the cross as they did that night in Egypt that the angle of death may pass by.

I reiterate that we are showing our commitment to the world by leading by example – if Social Distancing is the decided upon method of prevention – then let’s do it. Let’s not find ways around it and act as if we are above this. If every sporting every recreation activity has been put on hold, what are we saying if say “oh but it doesn’t apply to us. We will just have fewer people at a time. And we’ll wash our hands.” This is a time to be incarnational and care for others and see others and pray for others. This is not about self- preservation, it’s about compassion.

Above all do not be given to fear. Do not be anxious about anything, but in all things by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.

Our God who has called you is faithful, and he will not fail you.

Choose Faith not fear!

Be assured of my prayers.

Rector.

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From The Rector’s Desk – 14.03.2020

As the world still continues to take drastic measures to curb the tide of Covid19 infections, I pray that we are still focusing on not being given to fear and taking the necessary precautions. Let us continue to be faithful in pray and stand in solidarity with the suffering.

I have often said how life is lived between the punctuation marks. Take the story of Joseph that we have been reading in our daily readings. We only pick out the highlights to read. We don’t dwell on the lonely nights in the prison, the days of anguish waiting for his father and Benjamin to respond to his invitation, the hours spent mulling over the dreams of childhood and the experiences he had with his brothers in the wilderness, where he was sold into slavery. But it is between the “events” that we truly live life. Life is lived in the waiting and wondering, it is there that we contemplate and worry about our lives and that is where our lives are lived and judged. The pressing nature of modern time where the clock marches on regardless of the season that you are going through, makes us stress and strain against and within the circumstances of our lives.

Is Sunday Morning a punctuation mark or a double space. Is it where you pause to realign, is it a moment to reconnect with your loving God?

This week we meet at a well and engage with Jesus, we as the thirsty and He as the giver of living water. I have produced a message for the Province for World Water Day (22 March) and it can be found on our Facebook page and Website, but in that I remind us that water is sacred. Life is sacred and we belong to God. My prayer for you is that, Jesus Christ, the living water will grant that the gift of His Spirit may be to us a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Let s drink from the well of Christ and live in Him in His reality and in His truth. The truth that we are loved and are living under the shadow of His wing.

Easter is fast approaching, and we need to start planning the details. Please note that we have made the Passover Meal R30pp, because we ask people to donate towards the meal and therefore have kept the cost really low.  Please put your name on the board as soon as possible so that catering can be arranged. Please keep a close eye on the Pew Bulletin for the dates and times of events.

I encourage you to continue to wrestle through this Lent and deepen your relationship with God.

It is our human nature to avoid the intensity of relationship with God, we want God to quickly and painlessly deal with our lives and the reality is that wrestling, struggling, and suffering is a central part of the Easter Story.  We need to break through those barriers to intimacy and enter honestly into God’s presence and receive the fullness of His Love.

We have the cup to draw from the well – we have our own way to solve our problems with our own methods, but Christ calls us to put our faith in Him and not draw from the well of our own understanding but trust in His living water. God will get intimate with us when we welcome Him into our reality. Let us experience this truth, as the Samaritan women did.

Be assured of my prayers.

Rector

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From the Rector’s Desk – 07.03.2020

The Lord be with you!

My prayer for you above all is that, you will find peace in the fact that “God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

I have had few weeks that have been so demanding on my limited capacity to focus on mind on all that needs to be considered. It’s easy to do things and be involved in solutions, but this week has been all about listening and holding them in tension and waiting. All challenging things and time seems to be flying by at far too rapid a rate and we easily get impatient.

Here in the Parish I am very excited about the enthusiasm of our Parish Council to take to heart the work and mission of the Church and to work hard at setting in motion our Ministry Implementation Plan.

I am extremely grateful to God for the blessing of having some assistance in the Parish, in the form of Bishop Monument. I say this openly where he too will read it, it is a strange sensation to have a Bishop assisting me, but what a blessing to have his wisdom, friendship and participation in ministry in our Parish. God has His ways, and for the next four months we will be blessed by his Ministry among us. This has enabled us to do two things.

One, Revd Peta who is not well is on light duty and will be able to take some time and return to full duty as her health improves.

Secondly, I will be able to focus on a few things in the life of the parish that need attention, but I have not had the opportunity to address. The Sunday School Ministry will be getting a bit more attention from me and as we put together an improved support program for the very few, very overworked Sunday School teachers, I trust that we will be able to strengthen ministry to our children. I will be able to work with the Lay Preachers a bit too to strengthen their ministry.

As I write this, the women of the world are gathered in prayer here at St Mary’s. I ask us all to sincerely take to heart this work in holding the plight of the world before our God. I encourage you to join us in the wonderful prayer course that we are doing. Wednesday at 9am at COGS or 6pm at St Mary’s. We will be doing it on Sunday’s with the youth at the Good Shepherd as well, so if you are feeling youthful join in then. 

I will only say one thing about Covid 19: do not panic and do not get sucked into the hysteria. Keep a clear mind and hold onto your faith in God.

May our God bless us all abundantly as we journey through lent.

Be assured of my prayers.

Rector.

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Lent as a time of Preparation for Baptism

Baptism a participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Traditionally Lent has been a time of intense preparation for Baptism. In the Early Church there were many converts from other religions to Christianity and they needed to learn about the Doctrine and Theology of the Christian faith which was in stark contrast to the religions from which they were converting. Today even non- Christians are exposed to the basic ideas of the Christian faith, and yet very often it is this  perception of the world in what Christianity is about that is the foundation of most people’s religion and not the true teachings of the Church. Furthermore the “Religion” of this era is consumerism and we do not do enough to counter the effects of this idolatry. Consumerism is not the practice of buying goods, it is a mindset of participation in the idolatry of goods.  We as Christians need to be transformed by the renewal of our minds and not follow the pattern of the World. This is the focus of lent. Lent is not about deprivation it is about transformation!

This lent it is wonderful to have so many people being prepared for Baptism and I would like to use a few different Mechanisms to conduct the teaching and preparation. The Baptism Service will be held on the 11th of April (18h00)  at the Lighting of the Fire – Holy Saturday Service at St Mary’s. At this service the entire community reaffirm their baptismal Promises.

Every service during this process ( Palm Sunday, Passover Meal, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday) is a part of the great drama of Christ’s Passion (ministry) and I encourage you all to fully participate in this journey.

I am also encouraging all the families who are in preparation for Baptism to take an Anglican Prayer Book APB ( please sign for it and return it after Easter). During Lent I ask you to study the Catechism pg 423 on-wards and the Service of Baptism pg 215-220. We will be discussing these things in detail.

ASH Wednesday.

This Holy Day is one of the two FAST days commemorated by the Anglican Church. On these days the amount of food eaten is reduced. ( APB pg 437.103)

The Weekdays of Lent are days of self-denial when we discipline ourselves through some means of conscious denial (see the Lenten Earth Fast for 2020). This assists us to evaluate the things we do and use in our daily lives and help us to value what God has provided, and discipline us in their use.

We also Commemorate most Friday’s as days of Self Denial. APB pg 438. 103, explains our observance of days of Self Denial.

Lent is not a time of mourning our sinfulness, it is a time of re-ordering our lives so that the sins that so easily ensnare us ( Prov 5:22 and Gal 5:1) can be abandoned and our behavior changed to enable us to serve God more freely.

We receive ashes on our foreheads as a physical act of submission and repentance. “A contrite heart you will not despise.”  says the psalmist – (Psalm 51:17) We use the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday Celebration to make the ashes- a reminder that though we are given to praise God and we Hail him as King, we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and  are trapped in our sinful nature and need constant repentance and transformation of our hearts and minds. Jesus has conquered the sinful nature but we have to submit to His authority in our lives and we have to be obedient. This choice to not serve our own longings but to submit to Christ is called repentance – we are not just saying sorry to Christ – we are submitting to Christ.

Lent is a time for deepened prayer and the reading of Scripture.

I am calling on every member of our community to commit to reading the daily Eucharist readings. I know many already do, but this is a chance to recommit to that pattern of daily reading. The Prayer dairy provided is a wonderful way to construct your prayer life, please use it.

I draw you attention to focuses of LENT this year, which are a pilgrimage of penitence, faith and gratitude for the gift of salvation.” (Lectionary 2020).

  • Lent I  -the expected response to the Covenant;
  • Lent II  – the Covenant of Abraham and the prediction of the Passion of Christ;
  • Lent III – the offer of Salvation;
  • Lent IV – the Celebration of the Passover after the entry into the promised Land, and
  • Lent V – The Raising of Lazarus against the background of the valley of Dry Bones. 

We will be focusing on Prayer this lent and have a Lent Prayer course running both in the morning and evenings to make it available for everyone. We will also meditate on the Stations of the Cross on Friday mornings – (see the pew bulletin for details).

Let us pray:

God our Father,

We praise you that you are always ready to forgive the penitent. Bring us by your Spirit to true repentance and the joy of knowing forgiveness. Accept through Jesus Christ our Lenten acts of love and sacrifice. Prepare us to celebrate  this Passover and to share his risen life.

Amen.

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From the Rector’s Desk – 23.02.2020

“If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments and the Lord will bestow it on you. For fear of the Lord is wisdom and instruction, and what pleases Him is faithfulness and gentleness.” (Ecclesiasticus (Ben Sira) 1:26&27).

On Wednesday Lent begins, and we enter a time of preparation for Easter. This is a critical season in our liturgical year and over the next five weeks our intention is to re-order our lives.

Fasting is a key component of prayer and its intention is not merely self-denial – but it is denial of our natural inclinations in favour of obedience to God. It is a purposefully consideration of that which we take for granted.

Our Lent Fast this year ( #FAST4EARTH) focuses on reordering the way that we live in the world and our allegiance to the idolatry of this age which is consumerism.  When we read scripture, we can see how clear it is that we are to trust God and rely on God and on Him only, but we fail to see that the consumerist mindset is the idolatry of our day. Our first three days involve a pledge to rethink our use of plastic, our consumption of red meat and our energy usage. The full forty day fast is included as an insert in the pew leaflet.

A. Plastic – Toti has a current campaign to address the plastic pollution problem. You can      support this program by sorting your recyclable materials and bringing the plastics to the Church (which will act as a Temporary Collection point). All these recyclable materials will then be processed. In time permanent collection systems will be set up. Please separate the lids from the bottles and rinse all your plastics before bringing them. If anyone is doing ecobricks you may drop them off at the church too. We will provide more information on the Facebook page and notice boards.

B. Reduction in Red Meat Consumption – Fasting red meat is an age-old tradition, but I am personally not convinced of the information that is being circulated about this issue at present. But this gives us an opportunity to prayerfully journey with this issue. I admit that in America there is a major problem with Red Meat production and although we must not just project their issues into our context, we do need to journey with the issues. I welcome  dialogue.

C. Reduce energy and fuel use – this is an absolute necessity and I pray that this Lent you will find some lasting and permanent lifestyle adjustments to reduce your energy use. 

I remind you that fasting is not an act of self-deprivation, it is a reordering of your actions to correct bad behaviors, misuse, and abuse of the gifts that God has given us.

On the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of April we will be running three consecutive “quiet days” (07h00 -17h00) and learning about Benedictine Spirituality. The days will consist of worship, Contemplative Prayer and work and the focus is on reordering your life to bring balance and peace. The “Retreat is free, but participants will be required to provide towards the daily lunch (which we will make together). I really encourage you to sign up for this eye-opening experience of the Life that God wants us to lead. (Signup sheets are on the Notice Board).

Please continue to pray fervently for our Diocese and especially the Diocesan Conference which will be held on the 28th of March at the Cathedral.

Yours in the service of Christ.

Fr Andrew

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From the Rector’s Desk – 15.02.2020

To the People of the community of the Good Shepherd.

I went into 2020 believing in the words of Revelation 3:8 “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door.”

How blessed I was to meet with the new Executive of our Parish, I truly feel that we are stepping through that open door, and I look forward to our first Parish Council meeting on Tuesday.

I pray that God will continue to guide us by the Power of the Holy Spirit as He transforms us as individuals and as community.

I ask us all to fervently pray for our Assistant Priest Revd. Peta and for her healing. I ask too for prayers for our former Church Warden Bryan Diener, who is in High Care and needs our prayers. Pray too for Gail and Gavin his children, as they journey with him through this sacred path.

Our Sunday School is growing and outgrowing our structures, Claire is doing a fantastic job but needs help.  I would like to meet with all the parents on the 23rd February, after the service, to discuss the plans for the Sunday School going forward. I will be writing a new curriculum for the Sunday School as part of my formal studies this year and look forward to a much greater interaction with the children than I have had in the past. Increasing the number of Lay Preachers is essential to freeing me up to work with the Sunday School and is an exciting growth point for us as a community. We need people to join the teaching staff and be part of this development. As you will receive training it is not essential to have teaching experience, but of course teachers are welcome to share their skills with this ministry.

On the 23rd we are blessed to have Bishop Monument conducting the service for us. God is indeed good to us.

Speaking of Bishop’s; I ask you to fervently pray for the nominees whose names are being presented to the Elective Assembly Advisory Committee. (They will be announced in March). Pray for the Committee and those proposing the Nominees. We have to ensure that we give of ourselves to God to be used by Him. It is no small thing to put yourself at the mercy of the Diocese in order to be used by God to serve as Bishop. Strict measures have been put in place and we pray that this Elective Assembly will be effective in its work.

I ask you too to pray for our Social Outreach program (S’Nothando Creche, Environmental and Education aspects. There are a number of things which I am just waiting for the Spirit of God to open the door and push me through – It’s all lining up and we trust that We as a community will be great influences in the dynamic plans for our region around education and job creation. “True Religion is this, to Love mercy, act justly and work humbly with your God.

That means reaching out to the despairing, fighting against injustice, and working for the good of others and not just ourselves.

May God bless you all abundantly.

Rector.

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From the Rector’s Desk 08.02.2020

Jesus said “I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.” (John 15:5 GNB)

Very often we are tempted to turn back. It can be for a multitude of reasons. Very often we feel that our devotion to this unseen God is not bearing fruit, our reading of scripture is not stirring our hearts and that the road is too hard for us. Sometimes the challenge of being a Christian is great and as I have repeatedly prayed for people in our church this year, I pray for you today:

May the joy of knowing Jesus Christ be greater than the challenge of being His Church!”

This week we received the Code of Conduct for the Elective Assembly. Its on the Board for you to read: and is a shocking reminder of the worldliness that has enveloped our institution. I ask you to pray fervently for the nominees, among them is our next Bishop. A woman or man called by God despite our humanness, despite our weaknesses and despite our failings, God will raise up for us someone who is “after His own heart.”  But it is we that must be on our knees in repentance and it is us who must be seeking God and walking in His truth and in His ways. I ask you with all of my being to be committed to this one thing – to seek the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. To Love the Lord your God and to submit to Him. My prayer for you is that God will silence all other voices but His own and that each one of us will deepen our experience of God. We live in complex times – every generation has its challenges and ours are no greater than in any other era – but they are ours – we are the ones who have to take to heart the challenges of our days and seek Gods forgiveness, His healing, His strength.

I have had an interesting two weeks and have been challenged to my core as to who I am and what I am doing here, on earth!  I have often felt like Jonah when he was on the Ship bound for Tarshish and they were in the storm and everybody agreed that it was Jonah’s sin that had caused the storm. (Jon1:7) He had not done what God wanted and now the whole ship was about to sink. When I feel like that, I too throw myself at the mercy of God and into the deep waters of trusting Him. True we normally end up doing what God wants with our dignity a bit knocked – (remember how Jonah left Joppa well dressed but after being on the Ship and in the sea and in the whale – he must have been a sight when he arrived in Nineveh. But he did what God wanted in the end. This is a process that we all have to endure. Do not be afraid of it. Do not be afraid of the life that God has called you to. Every experience, every challenge, every failure, every closed door, every trip to Tarshish – is part of God’s molding of your life.

So, let us not draw back. Let us be bold and trust in God! Let us not fear what the world tempts us to fear, but let us be resolved to love the Lord our God with all our heart with all our soul and with all our strength and to love our neighbors and to love ourselves (If we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves then it stands to reason that we need to love ourselves first).

To contemporize one of my favorite Scriptures:

“ I am convinced, that neither load shedding nor global warming, nor a failing economy and ‘junk status” nor budget speeches nor inflation, nor elective assemblies nor my fears; will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ.

And so my dear brothers and sisters in Christ : “be of good courage , fight the good fight of faith , that you may finish your course with joy!” and the blessing of the One true God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,  be upon you and upon all those whom you love.

Your fellow pilgrim.

Fr Andrew.

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