From The Rector's Desk

From the Rector’s Desk – Second Friday in Eastertide – 24 April 2020

Christ is risen!

Today we enter life with a whole new perspective, a different way of life awaits us. But the same way of living is ours who live in Christ and with Christ and through Christ. A way of trust in Him who has conquered the grave.

Three years ago, on the first of April 2017 I wrote this in our Pew Bulletin.

“I know that there is great uncertainty in our Country. When I woke up on Friday morning I knew that it was a different country that I was waking up to: but as I am so often reminded when walking on the beach (which I wish I had been able to do on Friday Morning) but I am reminded that although the beach looks different every day, it is the same sand and the same water and that there is a consistency even in the turmoil of every aspect of life. Our hope is not in the ANC, or the Finance Minister or the strength of the Rand. Our treasure is not freedom or democracy, our life is in Christ and we are Ambassadors to this world. We hold onto our Kingdom values and we uphold them, even in this foreign land. Our Kingdom “currency” is not fickle, nor dependent on events around us. Our Kingdom currency does not trade in percentage points. The Kingdom currency of love is solid. “For I am certain that nothing can separate us from His love, neither death nor life, neither angles nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below – there is nothing in all of creation that will ever be able to separate us from the LOVE of God which is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 8:38,39). 

We live in troubled times AND God is with us. His word warns us and teaches us and calls us to cling to Him for we are in Him and we abide with Him and we live through Him. Therefore – we are more than Conquerors.”

It seems the more things change the more they stay the same.

I refer to this, because as I read it, I thought, what happened on Friday 1 April 2017 that made me acknowledge that the world had just become a different world. We live in that world now and yes it changed but we overcame whatever the life changing circumstances of that day were. Our God is faithful! 

Last night we were given a very clear guideline for our future. 5 levels, 5 sets of circumstances that will be determined at National and Local Level. And the lifestyle that we will need to adopt in our own lives according to those levels. I continue to give thanks to God for our President who is showing incredible leadership. We regularly pray:

“we pray for those who have responsibility among the nations that ruling with wisdom and justice, they may promote peace and wellbeing in the world.” 

To hear our president say “I acknowledge your sacrifice, made for the good of others, I acknowledge your exemplary courage Africa showing the world that we are a special people.” This is good, but it is even more wonderful that he seeks God’s blessing over us.” 

We must be fervent in our prayer:

“God bless your world, that Jesus came to save. Protect us from the negative impacts of COVID 19 and empower us to use aright this time to reorder our lives to live in peace and justice with mercy to life in hope of your salvation and to share that hope with the world!”

For you who will be called back to work in these difficult circumstance, go with God! To you who remain in lockdown, stay with Christ. To this who are living in uncertainty, rest in the power of the Glory Spirit, who is groaning to God on your behalf and interceding for you.

It is very clear that the work of the Church, in this season especially, is not to provide a place of worship but to, equip the saints (that’s you) to live out the God given role that you are called to play as we reorder the fabric of our economy and society. It is not the church building or structure that we are rebuilding it is the worshipping community who are at the forefront of rebuilding the world, as in heaven so on earth.

So, go into the world in peace to love and serve the Lord! Go as ambassadors of the loving Christ!

The stone was rolled away, the grave is empty, and the risen Christ lives in you! Alleluia!

Be assured of my prayers!

Rector.

2nd Friday of Easter 2020

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.

From The Rector's Desk · Priest's Perspective

Midday Reflection from the Rector

The Triduum

The Triduum (from the Latin meaning three days) is often referred to as The Three Great Days – Maundy Thursday- Good Friday- Easter Vigil.

According to this tradition there is a difference in the way we enter into the spirituality of Triduum and that of Easter Day.  As we observe the Triduum we enter into the Paschal Mystery in which the passion-death-resurrection of Jesus Christ saves and redeems us.  Easter Day is a celebration of utter joy and introduces the 50 days of Easter celebration.

The Triduum is therefore a single, unitary celebration of the whole Paschal Mystery.  It is not merely an historical rehearsal of a sequence of three events over three succeeding days but is a solemn entering into the saving mystery of the passion- death-resurrection-event in the life of Jesus.  That is one event- we do not enter into Good Friday as those who do not know how this will end, and we do not enter into the resurrection as those who do not know where it began and how we got here.  That is why there is this essential unity to The Three Days which is expressed in the fact that there is only one beginning and one ending to the liturgy of the Triduum.

The unity if this single celebration is clearly shown in the structure of the services.  There is a Greeting at the start of the Maundy Thursday Eucharist, but no dismissal; no formal beginning or dismissal at the Good Friday devotions, and no greeting at the Service of Light that starts the Great Vigil of Easter.  It is only at the end of the Vigil Service that the congregation join in the joyful dismissal that sends people out to love and serve the Lord with a great cry of ‘Alleluia! Alleluia!’

In this single service we gather together to celebrate the complete drama of salvation into which we are invited.  It is a gathering that celebrates the new commandment to love and serve one another, revealed by a Lord who washes the feet of the disciples, including Judas who betrayed Him, and Peter who denied Him, all played out in the context of the joyful celebration of the liberation of the people of God from the oppression of slavery in Egypt; it is a gathering of the people of God at the Cross as those who know the truth of the victory of our Lord over darkness, sin and rejection; a gathering of the people who join together to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord as those who have kept watch through His passion and greet Him with joy on Easter morning.

Each part needs to be planned carefully since the proclamation will be carried as much by the liturgy as by the preached word, and each part must be planned as part of the whole.

Rector

From The Rector's Desk · Priest's Perspective

Holy Week From The Rector’s Desk

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.

From The Rector's Desk · Priest's Perspective

From The Rector’s Desk 7 April 2019

Greetings in Christ.

Two things before I share a reflection that I would like you to meditate on over the next three weeks.

One, our Parish is going through a very tough time financially and we at present are not managing to pay all the bills. We are working hard to resolve the problems, but it is only fair that I inform you of our situation. I pray that in these difficult financial times God will bless us and provide for us, I am very aware that it is because we are all struggling and that we, as a community, are having financial problems.

Two, over the next few weeks we will be having combined services of the Good Shepherd and St Mary’s, I ask you to please attend the services that are at the church that you are not usually at. Easter is a very intense time and trying to do double the services (as I have done in the past) is not a reasonable expectation of me. Please check the published dates and times and attend the services as per the roster. If needed, organize to travel together, parking at your usual church and car pooling to the other.

May God bless you abundantly.

Rector.

An Easter Reflection on Walking with Jesus

Over the next three weeks we enter the most intense Liturgical journey of our Christian year.

Next Sunday we will cry Hosanna Hosanna as we “Walk with Jesus in His Passion.” A walk of courage and giving the clear message that He is the King of the Jews, the Messiah. We will walk along the road and lay down our palm branches, we will walk into the temple and see how sinful we have become , we will walk again in the Temple as Jesus claims it and clears it, fulfilling the expectations of the Messiah.

Then we will participate in a Passover meal – recalling the exodus from Egypt and how Jesus re-organized that festival to convey the message of His delivering of us from sin. On Thursday we will participate in a part of that occasion – the foot washing . St John wrote; “and now Jesus showed them the full extent of His love” , and washed their feet.

On Friday we will follow Jesus to the Cross and learn to carry the Cross of Jesus and that there were three crosses on Calvary, but only one saved us. We will journey with Jesus and in a great symbolic act renew our Baptismal promises on Saturday night. In the space so to speak – between the cross and the resurrection we will make our faith statement  – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live” and then we will walk with Jesus in Resurrection – “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Throughout this lent we have learnt that Jesus was establishing a new Kingdom – on Palm Sunday we will see Him riding into Jerusalem on a Donkey –  A symbol that the king was coming in peace, not to destroy men’s lives but to save them!

Its not an easy walk. We have discovered that in Lent, often been challenged to “be transformed by the renewal of your minds.”  We share the sentiment of the original crowds who followed Jesus with the disciples being astonished and the crowds afraid.  Even though we have recalled this story annually all our lives we still marvel and in the words of William Barclay “ anyone who writes about the death of Jesus  ( in our case walks with Jesus) about the cross and its meaning is conscious that although it is the greatest thing in all the world , He is walking into a realm of controversy and a battle ground of opposing theologies. Barclay concludes and I concur that “ without disregarding and without attacking the beliefs of others , (we) must  witness to our own.

My prayer is that as we walk with Jesus you will deepen your understanding of Him and of His love for you. That the cross and Resurrection of Jesus will provide the context for your life and that you will find the true meaning of life in serving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength.

As Isaiah writes   “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past, See I am doing a new thing,” he doesn’t mean ignore what has been but do not remain in the past – do not let Easter be a celebration of a past event, but see that God is working something new in you, this is your journey of death and resurrection, this is your journey of God delivering you from the Egypt of Sin into the promised land of salvation.

Many flee from the cross of Jesus and many hang around at a distance, but I pray that you will go all the way with Jesus! May this Easter be a time of great renewal in your life and may you walk in the joy of the Lord, for when we repent and return to the Lord our God, we once were dead but now we live, were lost but now we are found.

Be assured of my prayers

Fr. Andrew