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Encouragement for the Journey – 31/07/11

Greetings from an ever-changing traveller,

Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, has a delightful quote in his book Alice in Wonderland:

“Who are you?” said the caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation: Alice replied rather shyly, “ I – I hardly know sir, just at present – at least I knew who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since that”

Somehow, Alice has it right; we are ever evolving, constantly changing being transformed by life. Throughout each day in our encounters with creation, objects of beauty, and other human beings, each may offer us transforming experiences.

My understanding of our human physiology is rather limited, but I recall reading somewhere that our physical body renews itself every seven years. This is a very remarkable occurrence indeed. If this takes place, and I have no reason to doubt it does, it seems to occur silently and almost without us being aware. Our bodies are constantly changing.

We may particularly notice our physiological change as we age and we find some tasks more difficult than perhaps we may have done say five or ten years ago. I am not sure who said it; ‘change is the only constant in life’ this is so very true.

The Christian church and change have not had a comfortable relationship. In fact, when it comes to change and the church, many church auditoriums and meeting rooms bear witness to the change wars, of unfulfilled dreams, arguments over worship, crumbled visions, unresolved conflicts and more importantly broken relationships. All of which leaves me wondering, how can we embrace change in our congregation in ways, which are authentically compassionate, based on understanding and on love?

Any change we embark upon needs to be consistent with our mission statement of being an inclusive Christian community, seeking to make a difference, starting with our selves. I welcome your responses, thoughts and comments.

For your reflection:

“The things that got you to where you are today are not the things that will get you to where you need to be tomorrow.” George Barna, The Second Coming of the Church

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

July 31, 2011 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey – 24/07/11

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Today we have the privilege of formally welcoming into the membership at St Aidans, Andre and Helene Muller on transfer from Humewood Methodist Church Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Whenever I participate in one of these happenings, I am reminded of the importance and preciousness of the community of faith the Church. Sometimes our focus and energy seems to be more on the building than on people. This is understandable, for we do have a responsibility to care for that which has been entrusted to us from previous generations, so we can pass on to others.

However, our prime focus, must always be people. I am reminded of that Maori proverb;

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world? Tis man! Tis man! Tis man!

Of course man means human kind, not just the male gender.

When I read Jesus’ ministry, I see a man who demonstrated the power of putting people before tradition, offering dignity and compassion to all, especially those living on the edge of society and being a voice for the voiceless.

Indeed we seek to care for those who are part of our community of faith, and here is the key, we also seek to be a welcoming and inclusive community, along with serving others outside the community of faith. For this community of faith is not the sole place where we practice our faith, for religious life is not limited to the prayers we say in church or at home. It includes the life we live outside the church day in and day out.

I leave you with a question that I often ask myself: what is it about my relationship with Jesus that this community cannot do without?

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

July 24, 2011 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey – 17/07/11

Greetings fellow traveller,

Today is bible Sunday and I thought I would offer you these words from the Rev Frederick Buechner (Presbyterian Minister & Author).

“In short, one way to describe the Bible, written by many different people over a period of three thousand years and more, would be to say that it is a disorderly collection of sixty – odd book, which are often tedious, barbaric and obscure, and which teem with contradictions and inconsistencies. It is a swarming compost of a book, an Irish stew of poetry and propaganda, law and legalism, myth and murk, history and hysteria. Over the centuries it has become hopelessly associated with tub – thumping evangelism and dreary piety, with superannuated superstition and blue –nosed moralising, with ecclesiastical authoritarianism and crippling literalism.”

Now in some churches, Buechner’s portrayal of the Bible could possibly get him lynched. My reading of his writing, and shows he deeply loves the bible affirming it as God’s word, and on the hand recognises it is a deeply human work.

I find his description of the Bible as ‘a swarming compost of a book’ most apt. Compost is the decomposing remnants of organic materials that usually are packed rich in nutrients and natural fertilizer for plant growth.

So too on one level the Bible is a heap of leftovers, decomposing remnants of ancient peoples struggle to travel the journey of faith, to understand God and to be authentic in the their lives.

We today can truly benefit from the rich theological and spiritual; nutrients from the past in the Bible to nourish and strengthen us on our faith journey.

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

July 17, 2011 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey

Greetings fellow traveller,

Last week at our Pentecost service, there was an opportunity to share conversation in small groups around the presence of the Spirit in our lives. A number of you expressed that it was rather a difficult exercise. The place and presence of the Spirit is an essential aspect of our Christian theology and faith practice. Howbeit, the different parts of the Christian church interpret and understand the Spirit in different ways.

I came across this quote from Joan Chittister ( Benedictine Nun & writer). I offer it to you because it provides windows of opportunity to appreciate the Holy Spirit in a different way:

“The Holy Spirit, God’s energizing presence among us, the life force that drives us beyond ourselves, that whispers us into the great quest within, that makes life alive with a purpose not seen but deeply, consciously, stubbornly felt even in the midst of chaos, even at the edge of despair, sounds the truth in us that we are more than we seem to be. Life does not begin and end with us. There is more than we know, there is an electric charge animating the world at every level and, most of all, within. Holy Spirit suffuses all of life, call us into that mystery at is God, reminds us of the model that is Jesus, brings us into the fullness of ourselves. Holy Spirit is the great anti – gravitational force that calls us out of somewhere into everywhere, that keeps us moving toward, through, the black holes of life, certain that on the other side of them is light, waiting and wishing us on.”

When I read this, I want to shout a loud YES

How would you like to respond?

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

July 10, 2011 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey – 03/07/11

Greetings Fellow traveller,

Today is our Kids N All Service, and once more I ask myself how our service may be meaningful and encouraging for both children and adults. I have been reminded this week that concepts of God and religion and each child’s own unique personality are all too complex for the ready – made answers we may wish to give, to complex questions children might ask, like: Where is God? How powerful is God? What does God look like?

Asking questions is part of a child’s developmental process, which unfolds naturally and spontaneously if a child is supported and encouraged. Of course alongside love and care, there is that other essential ingredient, namely trust. A child indeed adults also, need to feel secure enough to explore, to ask questions, to express uncertainty, to discover for themselves.

I am reminded of a kindergarten teacher who was observing her class draw. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s art – work. She came to one little girl who was working diligently, and asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.” The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.” Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, “They will in a minute.” This story might bring a smile to our face and a chuckle. But perhaps there is something deeper going on, perhaps an intimate relationship with God.

I am now wondering what my response would be to this child’s God talk. A response that enhances and encourages, not hinders her developmental sense of self and of God.

Meanwhile Peace in our exploring and discoveries of self and of God.

Alf

July 3, 2011 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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