Church Chatter

Equipping The Saints and Listening Month.

“Welcome to February!” I say, with a little bit of surprise. How did we get to February so quickly? And where did January go?

Time is flying past so quickly, mostly, I think because we are so busy or “noisy” in our lives. We need to slow down and listen. More about this later.

Last night at Equipping the Saints, Fr. Andrew introduced us to Listening month, and explained what it is that we need to pray about, contemplate on and how to listen to God. I will explain below.

The Diocese has put in place, The Assessment Commission – “Towards a Resourced Diocesan Vision”. And February 2019 has been designated as a “Listening Month”.

First, we need to address what exactly does the above statement mean. I will quote the introduction to the Assessment Commission below.

During this time of financial challenge, when an increasing number of parishes are defaulting on their assessment payments and the gap between Diocesan expenditure and income is widening, the establishment of the Assessment Commission has created an opportunity for the Diocese of Natal to critically evaluate the way in which it’s mission and ministry is resourced. Furthermore, while the focus of the Assessment Commission, as the name suggests, is on financial resourcing, it is inevitable and indeed appropriate that the Diocese takes this rare opportunity to listen to God and to reflect more widely on it’s priorities, processes and structures.

The Assessment Commission – What’s it all about? – 2019

The second is “Listening Month”. What exactly does that mean?

We as a Diocese, as a parish and individually, need to take time everyday through the month of February, to prayerfully listen to God’s voice. How do you do that? How can we hear God’s voice? And how to we know when God is speaking to us? And what is God saying to us?

Though we are continually praying throughout the day. We need to spend some dedicated time (alone) with our Heavenly Father, with no distractions or “noise”. In a nutshell, we need some quiet time. Choose a time in your day, when you can spend at least 10 minutes alone or more. When you know, you will not be disturbed by family, or other distractions. Switch of your television, radio, iPad, tablet, phones etc. Your private space may be in your room, with the door closed or outside under a tree. Read the suggested text for this week from the Gospel of John 17:20-26, pray and then reflect on the message. And listen to God speaking to you, you will know when He is speaking to you!

When it comes to listening to God in prayer, let us pause and consider some wise words from Mother Teresa:-

“Prayer is not asking.

Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.

– Mother Theresa

Prayer is responding to God…turn off the noise… find a way to be silent… God wants our full attention and we have to actively respond to the voice of God…

– Fr. Andrew Manning

Too often we come to God with a long list of what we believe God should be doing for us. However, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he began with where we focus our hearts – to God in adoration and worship – “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”. Only when we have spent time drawing near to God, lingering in His presence, can we have perspective on what we desire to see change in the world.

Each person hears God’s voice in different ways. Through the text in the Bible, through praise & worship, through listening to a sermon. While praying, contemplation and reflection. God can also speak to you through His Creation, while you are out on a walk, tending your garden, watching the waves break on the beach. When you realize how God is speaking to you, personally. You will not doubt it.

And how to we know what God is saying to us. It can be through a word jumping out at you from the text in the Bible, or a thought that keeps entering you mind during reflection. Or an idea that you never had before.

The more you listen to God and hear his voice, the easier it will be to know what God is saying to us.

This week, take a moment to call to mind the evidence of God’s love in your live. Protection, answered prayers, new life, reassurance etc. Use these memories as an opportunity to thank and praise God for all that He is. Centre yourselves on the God, revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and worship as He deserves to be worshipped.

We extend an invitation to anyone who would like to join us on Sunday evenings at St Mary’s Anglican Church in Warner Beach from 6pm. To learn more about listening to God and responding to God. And to learn more about how we can be more intentional with our prayers, listening and discipleship. And sharing our vision and mission with the world.

During my own reflection on what was discussed during Equipping the saints, last night. The following words from Fr. Andrew stood out the most for me.

If we want to walk like Jesus, we need to be a listening people.

My family in Christ, pray with us, reflect with us and listen to God with us. Together as a community of believers, we can respond to God’s message to us, about how we can resource our Parish, our Diocese and ourselves to fulfill the mission of Jesus, in our time!

Stand up! Open your hearts, eyes and ears! And let us be obedient to what it is that God is saying to us and wanting us to do!

Heavenly Father, I pray for our community today, that we may have our spiritual ears opened today, so that we may hear Your voice and listen to what You are saying to us. And that we are able to understand Your message and be willing to share with the community what we have heard You say. So that we can respond to You Lord. That through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can continue and strengthen and revitalize Your mission in the world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Greetings in Christ.

Sermon · Sunday Services

A series on the meaning of Christmas – Advent sermon 1

The Preachers of St Mary’s Anglican Church decided together to share our sermons on the blog, to share our message about the real meaning of Christmas. Today we share the first sermon, that was preached on 2 December 2018.

“There will be signs,” Jesus said.

When I was a child one of the signs I always looked forward to was my Advent calendar. Every year about this time my sister, brother and I were given a new Advent calendar. It was usually a beautiful picture that had a bunch of little numbered doors, one for each day of Advent. Each day we would open a little door on the calendar. Behind the door was a chocolate. Each door we opened was a sign Christmas was getting closer. We were counting down the days. That’s what Advent was about for us back then.

I liked Advent. I liked the way the house looked, the music my parents played, the bowls of snacks set out for guests. Advent was a time of expectation, anticipation, and excitement. Yes, it meant Jesus would be born in Bethlehem but it also meant grandparents, presents, and Santa Clause. I looked forward to the future one day at a time.

Then something happened. Somewhere along the way life got really real and Advent changed. Advent was no longer just the season before Christmas, a countdown. Instead it began to describe the reality of life and the world. The gospel texts about the destruction of the temple, war, earthquakes, famines, plagues, and betrayals as written in the previous verses (Luke 21:1-19) took on new and often very personal meanings.

Advent became a season of change, letting go, and looking to a future that was not yet clear or known. I’m not exactly sure when it began or how it happened but I know it did. All the signs were there.

  • It might have been the day my niece died, a world ended, and lives were lost, hers mine, our family. “There will be signs,” Jesus said.
  • It might have been reading the headlines and feeling like my prayers are unable to keep up with the pain and the needs of the world. “There will be signs,” Jesus said.
  • It might have been one too many pictures of another suicide bombing “There will be signs,” Jesus said.
  • It might have been waking up with the world each morning of the past week and wondering,
    • What’s next?
    • Where will it happen?
    • When will it take place?
    • “There will be signs,” Jesus said.

It might have been any one of these, all of them, or a thousand other things just like them. These are just a few of my Advent stories, stories about how my life has been changed and the world as I had known it ended.

What are your Advent stories? I’ll bet you have them. I’ll bet you could tell stories about the day your life was changed and your world ended. I’ll bet you have lived through seasons of change, letting go, and stepping into an uncertain future, maybe even a future you did not want.

I sometimes wish Advent was as simple and easy as opening a little door on the calendar, eating a piece of chocolate, and knowing that Christmas is one day closer. But it’s not. You and I both know the world is not that simple and life is not that easy. Maybe that’s why every year on this day, the First Sunday of Advent, we always hear a gospel text that seems to describe the end of the world and the signs that will accompany that ending.

This is not just a story about Jesus and his disciples. This is your story and my story. We experience it in our lives. We see it in our world. And today the Church declares it to be the good news of Christ.

“There will be signs,” Jesus said. More than ever our world needs to see the signs. The longer I live, the more I see and experience, the more I realize how necessary those signs are. I want to be reminded that the signs are there.

Every Advent story is accompanied by signs. Jesus says if we look we’ll see the signs everywhere; in the sun, the moon, the stars; in the distress among earth’s nations; and in the roaring of the sea and its waves. I can see them today in the pictures of refugees and in the world’s violence. I’ve no doubt you’ve seen the signs too, in your life and in the world. They’re everywhere and they are not hard to spot. They are, however, too easily and quickly misunderstood and misused.

“There will be signs” are words of hope and reassurance but far too often they are heard as words of warning and threat. And when they are, the signs are used to predict a future of impending doom and loss. They become indicators that the world will end and you better shape up or God is going to get you. Our misunderstanding of the signs pushes us further into the darkness and deeper into our fear. Our misuse of the signs blinds us to the coming of the Son of Man with power and great glory.

“There will be signs” are not Jesus’ words of warning and threats. Jesus does not ask us to predict the future. He never says these are the signs that the end of the world has come.

Instead, he says that when we see the signs we are to stand up, raise our heads, and know that help is on the way; our redemption, our healing, our Savior have drawn near.

The signs are not a reason to hang our head in despair or shrink from life. That we can see the signs in our lives and world means that the circumstances we face and the events that happen contain and reveal the promise of Christ’s coming. The signs are our hope and reassurance that God has not abandoned us, that God notices us, that God cares, comes to, and participates in our life’s circumstances.

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree teaches us how to read the signs. The Advent signs are as ordinary and common as a fig tree sprouting leaves. We see the leaves and we know something is happening. Summer is already near. It’s a new season, with new life, new growth, new fruit. That is the promise and good news of the Advent signs. And yet that promise, that good news, is fulfilled not apart from but in and through the reality of our life’s circumstances and our world’s events, no matter how difficult or tragic they may be.

So, what if we looked on our lives and our world and we began to read and understand the signs in our Advent stories as sprouting leaves?

What would we see?

What would it mean?

It would mean that the kingdom of God is near. It would mean we are entering a new season. We would see new life and new growth. We would produce new fruit. We could open the doors of our life with new courage and confidence. We could look on the world with a new sense of compassion and hope. We would be strengthened to do the work God has given us to do.

Yes, the Advent seasons of our lives can be long, difficult, and painful. But we never face those seasons without the signs of hope and reassurance, signs that point to the one who is coming.

How to we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ? We can use today’s Psalm as an example of humble attitude before God. Jesus calls us to pray and Psalm 25 is a good example of a prayer that call us to penitence, a prayer asking for guidance and a prayer for protection, all very much needed in our day.

And in today’s text in Luke, we are called to live lives of vigilance, to live each day as if Jesus may return today.

What would you do differently if you knew Jesus would definitely return today?

Would you be kinder to the people you meet?

Would you be careful not to lose your temper?

Would you go out of your way to help a stranger?

Would you read your Bible more and pray more?

How would your life be different?

This text asks us to question how prepared we are for the return of Jesus, to take stock of our lives, really look at the areas that need work and think about how we could live differently. This text is a call to action, to be expectant, to be prepared.

“There will be signs,” Jesus said.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Church Chatter · Prayers & Collects

Ember Day 12 December 2018

What are Ember Days?

On these days prayer is offered for those to be ordained at this time, for vocations to the ordained ministry, for theological colleges and those preparing for ordination, and for all serving in the ordained ministry. (APB. 331)

Ember collect.

Please pray today for Fr. Andrew Manning and Revd Peta May. And also or all other Priests and Deacons of God’s Church. And for all those that are preparing themselves for ordination.

Eternal Father,

through your Holy Spirit you have appointed many ministries in the Church: bless those called to be deacons, priests and bishops, maintain them in your truth, renew them in your holiness and make them your ever-faithful servants; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Readings:

  • Isaiah 61: 1-6b
  • Psalm 132: 1-9
  • Acts: 20: 28-35
  • Canticle 13
  • Luke 4: 16-21

Church Chatter · In other news.

Lions Flea Market

In just over a week St Marys will be hosting the Lion’s Flea Market again, on 1 December 2018 from 7 – 11am.

Last months Flea Market was a huge success with the hall being filled to the brim and the sunny weather we had.

There will be a jumping castle again for the kids, and a place to sit, to take a break or enjoy the food for sale.

This month, St Marys will be making Boerie Rolls (@ R25 each), which will be braai-ed by the Men’s Guild. And some sweet things will be for sale as well, with coffee and tea.

The Lions will be making Vetkoek and mince, and pancakes.

This month, we have even more stalls to look at, with a better variety of goods.

Please come and join us for the morning, either by supporting us in our fundraising effort, or by helping out for an hour or so at the food stall.

For more information, or if you would like to book a stall, please contact me on 082 651 7339.

Your Sister in Christ