COVID-19 · From The Rector's Desk

From the Rector’s Desk – 15 May 2020

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

  • What God requires of us is this “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 8:6)
  • And Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love God and love our neighbour.
  • Our Diocese has called on us to be “loving communities.”

We therefore know what to do and why to do it, but we have to be intentional in deciding how to do it. I address here some of our fears and how we as a community can support each other, encourage each other, and draw on each other’s experiences to navigate through the COVID-19 mitigation measures.

As a community we need to proactively manage ourselves during the level 3 to 1 phases of the lock-down. This does not only refer to the opening of the church but how we live our lives and reintegrate into a new economic and social world. Our conduct and our actions need to be exemplary. We do not have all the answers, but what we have is an ability to take the journey. The ability to go into the world in love, and forgive, and seek forgiveness. To think about others but ensure that we are not tossed about and flailing ourselves. We have a lot to wrestle with in terms of the socialization during the different phases. 

Having had to work away from home this week I have experienced some of what we are going to be going through.
In no particular order I raise the following that will need to be carefully dealt with by each one of us.

  • Fear of contravention of the lock-down regulations. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, but for most of us its confusing! How do we keep up and not live in fear of being arrested?
  • Meeting people who have processed the last 6 weeks differently. You have been out of physical contact with others and been able to ignore posts and conversations that were not congruent with your journey. Back at work you are going to have to face different opinions, different coping mechanisms and different personalities. Unlike on Facebook where you can hit “like” and scroll on, now you will have to face those people.
  • Awkwardness! Wearing a mask is one thing, interacting with others without facial expression and with muffled voices is a whole new communication challenge.
  • A sense of not wanting to interact. All our social awkwardness will be exacerbated. The introvert just wants to stay home, the extrovert will have to overcome the inability to hug everyone, and we all need to find new ways of interacting. Everything will be an effort.
  • It is all new, things we took for granted will be points of contention as we try to deal with a new socialization environment. Some of the changes we will assimilate and take them in our stride, but many will require some accommodation, compromise, adjustment, and self-sacrifice.

But we are not to be given to fear, not of the virus nor of the new world nor of the effort that we will need to make to develop a new lifestyle. Here are some steps we can take:

  • Plan your actions. Be proactive in how you will reintegrate. Don’t just jump in and try and pick up where you left off. Everyone is going to be rebuilding and the more forthright you are the easier you are going to be to work with.
  • Keep the good of the lock-down:  priorities, routines, practices that were good for you should be continued. You have had “forty days’ to develop a new worldview, priorities, lifestyle, don’t loose it all on the first day out there. Decide what you want to keep in your life and don’t give it up.
  • Focus on things above. This is a spiritual battle not just a physical one. Keep the faith, mature in faith continue to strengthen and live out of your spiritual self.

Know that you are in our prayers, trust God and trust Jesus and trust your faith in Him.

Choose Faith not fear

Rector.

COVID-19 · From The Rector's Desk

At the end of the Day -(Elizabeth Paul) Wed 13 May 2020

Our president addressed us tonight and you could see the strain that he is under. This is a difficult phase of the management of the mitigation of the Pandemic, as it appears like not much is happening, but actually a great deal is happening. I feel it here in the Parish too. The contingency plans that we have put in place need to settle into a new normal, but changes need to be made. The novelty of things is wearing off, but the acceptance of the changes is not yet achieved. The masks are uncomfortable, the people are irritable, the anticipation of change is there, but the change is not yet taking shape. And still no end is in sight. I want to encourage you tonight to take authority over your life and have a personal plan for the rest of May and for the prospect of Level 3. What are you going to do to manage the impact of COVID 19 on your life? What changes are you going to make, how are you going to be part of the solution? We are going to have to make some big decisions as a community. We are going to have to work together, pick our battles together, walk in tune with God’s Spirit together.

I am appealing to you to look carefully at the mitigation plans that we as a Parish are putting in place to assist our community and to participate. Do not sit on the side-lines and watch this happen. Engage, challenge, discuss and be part of building a new way of life for us all. The Church is the community of believers, we have a responsibility to God and to the Nation to be at work and make a positive, Holy Spirit led and empowered path in the wilderness. We need to look at creating opportunities, developing new ways of caring for each other, managing ourselves better.

Again, I say we are building a community of Kingdom people, a holy nation of godly people who will do his work in this place.  We are building a ministry team, not a congregation. Everything you do is holy. Be Holy, says the Lord for I the Lord your God am Holy.  

Be assured of my prayers for you all.

Choose Faith, not fear.

Amen.

Priest's Perspective

Priests Perspective 28 April 2020

Being a priest to a church in the current reality of #Lockdown is a complicated venture. We are accustomed to Sunday Services and face to face interactions. We preach or teach to a group of people who we can see and watch their reaction and interpret their moods and see their concerns and use group dynamics to minister. All that is gone!

Well no not gone, but changed. What is the change? In our context it is an emerging reality. Identifying that need for change is an acknowledgment that things around us are different and we need to adjust. This is unfamiliar. Usually we drive change, like improvements or adjustments. Now adapting is the major driver of change COVID 19 and its mitigation plan of #Lockdown, we are not the agents of change we are the recipients.

This leaves us feeling out of control, a state that we refer to as Crisis. The Crisis is not the pandemic, the crisis is our loss of control. The way to address this is to regain control. As Christians we regain control by aligning ourselves with Christ and His will. As Henry Nouwen puts it.

 “The more I think about human suffering in the world and my desire to offer a healing response, the more I realize how crucial it is to not allow myself to become paralyzed by feelings of impotence and guilt. More important than ever is to be very faithful to my vocation to do well the few things I am called to do and hold on to the joy and peace they bring me. I must resist the temptation to let the forces of darkness pull me into despair and make me one more of their victims.  I have to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and on those how followed him and trust that I will know how to live our my mission to be a sign of hope in this world.” ( Here and Now- Heni Nouwen)

When I think of how much importance is given, in Scripture and Religious Literature to drawing aside and seeking God, I cannot but think that these may be the most informative and transformative days of our lives.

Today I encourage you to take your faith seriously as the anchor for your soul. See your Christian calling as your primary vocation and that whatever activities you do, they are mission fields to live out the Gospel. The Gospel of hope and peace and joy. The message of truth, that no hardship can separate you from the love of God.

May our Lord Jesus Christ fill you with all hope and joy as you trust in Him.

Your fellow pilgrim.

Fr Andrew.

COVID-19 · From The Rector's Desk · Priest's Perspective

From the Rectors Desk – Good Friday – 10 April 2020

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

Last night the Lockdown was extended till the end of the month. In a brave and decisive and well-articulated statement by the President, he acknowledged our sacrifice and called us to endure longer and adapt to a new reality. As the Church we are called to be transformed and to lead a wave of transformation as we bring (live) Kingdom values into the world. We ourselves need to be at the forefront of this behavioural change and reform the way that we live in the world. All creation groans in eager anticipation of the revelation of the Sons of God (Romans 8:19-23). We are called to rebuild the world one person, one family, one community, one society at a time.

After every fall of any civilisation Christians, by their self-sacrificial lifestyle rebuilt the world. In Christ is the only way it can be done. A new Creation is God’s mission and we are co-creators with God, in Christ. Therefore, I call on you to give of yourself to this work.

I ask you to submit reflections and thoughts and questions via email or WhatsApp to assist the leadership in developing a Reintegration Strategy. This will enable us to provide you with what you need, in terms of spiritual support to overcome the stress of the lockdown period and the momentous task ahead of us in rebuilding a healthy vibrant society, going forward.

Our offices will, of course, remain closed until the end of April and we will continue with our online support. We will need to address staff Salaries and food parcels and overcome our financial constraints as well. To this end we will reduce wherever we can, I will not take a Vehicle Allowance this month, and only my Instalment and Insurance will be paid; and as you should have gathered I will not take an Easter Offering this year. A priority remains paying the Assessment so that Clergy stipends can be paid. 

This Easter we focus a lot on the death of Jesus, and we need to realise what He took to the grave with Him.

He took a self-righteous, and a hard-hearted way of life to the grave, and He raised a heart of flesh, a love thy neighbour as thyself way of life, from the tomb;

He took a peace for some through oppression way of life, to the grave, and raised a “Think of others as more important than yourselves” way of life, from the tomb.

He took a power to rule over others, way of life to the grave and raised a power to serve others way of life, from the tomb.

He took a fear of sin, way of life to the grave and raised a Freedom from sin way of life, from the tomb.

God rolled the stone away from a self-centred life and raised a life that has been given in humility and obedience, even obedience to death on a cross. What will God put to death in you this Good Friday? What will you leave behind you in the grave this good Friday, so that God can raise you afresh on Sunday?

Jesus laid down His life, and so, must we. There are many things that the circumstances of our generation need us to lay down at the foot of the cross this Easter. May the journey to the cross give us the strength and wisdom to do so.

I commend to you the Stations of the cross on our WEBSITE. Take some time, look at the pictures, listen to the meditations, prayerfully construct your response and journey with Jesus. 

I end by saying again – join the women! They followed every step of the way. They did not try to dictate how the story should play out and what Jesus should do. They did not demand anything for themselves. They did not seek to influence the narrative. They just stayed close to Jesus, feeling His pain, enduring with Him, participating in the narrative right to the end, and to them, Jesus appeared first. Stick with Jesus my dear people.

Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive all power and wealth wisdom and might, honour and glory and praise!

May I take this opportunity to say a special thank you to Vanda for the huge amount of work that she did in putting the WEBSITE meditations together, and to the contributors for those meditations. And to each He gave gifts (Eph 4:8) praise God!   

Be assured of my prayers for you.

Rector.

COVID-19 · From The Rector's Desk

From the Rectors Desk – 9 April 2020

Maundy Thursday.

Today is Maundy Thursday – derived from the Latin ‘mandatum’ which means commandment. It is from the closing words of The Gospel “A new Commandment I give unto you.” (John 13:34)

Traditionally today has two Eucharist services – at the Morning Eucharist the Priests renew their vows and the oils for healing and for consecrating the ordained, is blessed.  At the Evening Eucharist which I will send you a reflection on later today, we commence the Triduum (The Good Friday through Resurrection Sunday event).

Today no Chrism Eucharist at the Cathedral will take place, and so it is a sad day in a sense for the clergy, who cannot corporately celebrate and reaffirm their vows.

I sat quietly in my study in the early hours of this morning and renewed my vows to God and to you the people that He ordained me to serve. I commit myself anew to the ‘trust and responsibility of the priesthood to which I am called’. It is not an easy commitment as it is a commitment to do a new thing, an unfamiliar thing a thing of great uncertainty; as I know that the way that I have ministered in the past, to you and to the world has changed and I am experiencing the challenge of developing an entirely different methodology. But the message uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures is the same, even though we know the end is near and that we have much uncertainty to face, it is not uncertainty in the outcome of our faith, we know that God will lead us into eternal salvation, but the uncertainty lies on the road which is filled with many obstacles and challenges and temptations and so many of our certainties are held in our traditions and customs, that with them being challenged, there is uncertainty in the way we “do church” teach the faith, hold the community together, celebrate the Sacraments and the way we lead the church.

But this I know, that with God’s help through the power of the Holy Spirit, ‘I will continue to banish error in doctrine and provide sound teaching based on the Holy Scriptures’.

“I will accept the discipline of this church and reverently obey the Bishop and other ministers set over me.’  Our current leadership crisis makes this a challenge, I’ll be honest, and we need to reform much, in our church. But this challenge to our leadership will not be a rebellion, but a reformation.

‘I will be diligent in prayer and in the reading of the Holy Scriptures and in my studies.’

‘I will endeavour to minister the word of God and His sacraments with reverence and joy’

 I realize that the sacramental nature of our Church is under pressure. But God will show us how to worship him and participate in Christ – our celebration of the Eucharist is central to sustaining our faith and we have to hold onto the theology of the Eucharist even if we express it differently.

‘I will help those in my care to discover their gifts and use them’ – this is possibly the most important part of the work of the future. Each one of us must use our gifts to serve and empower the part of the world that we are given dominion over. In our families and in the world as we re-create a new way of living. After every collapse of civilisation, Christians have played a role in rebuilding society, not from the top, not from positions of power, but everyday Christians, living out their hope in the world. As St Peter has said, “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you” (1 Peter 3:15 GNB)

With God’s help!

I will strive to fashion my life and that of my household according to the way of Christ”

‘I will promote unity and peace and love among God’s people’

On the 1st of July 2006 I was made a Deacon and on the 23rd of June 2007 I was Ordained Priest, and I have strived to fulfil these vows all those years. For where I have failed, I ask your and God’s forgiveness. And I ask you to pray for me as I seek to fulfil what is mine to do in the Kingdom among you.

I walk as a servant of God among you and it is God who is at work in you, and I have the privilege of walking in your holy space. It is a privilege that I do not take lightly and one which I am humbled by.

Pray for me and pray for your Church and seek the Lord for he is your salvation.       

God is our refuge and our strength. (Ps 46)

RECTOR.