Friday, May 28, 2010

'Companions in Christ' - A winner programme

We have run the first part of this programme in three of our Fellowship Groups so far.
It is a wonderful experiential way of engaging the Christian faith in a small group. The content is excellent, the methodology is taken from years of Christian history and the theology is particularly Wesleyan. The group in the picture just finished sharing their life journey through the eyes of prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace. They also looked at the life journey's of people like St. Augustine, Martin Luther, Mother Theresa and Evelyn Underhill as examples of different ways we experience the grace of God.

It was a privilege to hear the narratives of each persons spiritual journey and to listen to the pain and hardship many had faced. let me close by quoting from the preface of a book I have just started reading, "Man's search for meaning" by Viktor Frankl:

"To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. If there is a purpose in life at all, there must be a purpose in suffering and in dying."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

If God is a sending God then to whom are we sent?

This Sunday we are doing things a little different from the normal. We have had a month of sermons focused around the theology that the Trinitarian God is a missionary God. This Sunday we are looking at the Church as a missionary agent sent into the local neighbourhood. We will summarize where we have been over the last Sundays and then we will get the Sunday worshipers into a discussion as to where we feel God is sending us. If God is a sending God then to whom are we sent?

If you have any thoughts about this it would be great to have your comments on this blog and I can weave them into our discussion on Sunday.

This kind of conversation may often end up in generalizations like, “We are sent to the lost” or “We are sent to those in need”. What I think is important is to clearly define whom these people are and what their actual needs are. It would also be important to acknowledge that God is already with the people we are sent to and thus we approach with caution and humility. The other facet to this discussion is the realization that we approach the lost because we were once lost and were found, not because we are any better than them. For those not at Hilton Methodist please keep us in your prayers this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Amped Society Stewards for God's sake

Last evening the Society Stewards and I spent some quality time discussing the hospitality of our little church. We each have a copy of Robert Schnase’s book ‘Five practices of fruitful congregations’ and we were engaging with the first chapter on radical hospitality. It is always a joy to be a part of a group that is generative in nature and exudes life beyond itself. It is a group that is not settled in perpetuating a habitual Christian faith but is impressed by the Spirit to challenge the norm and grow in grace and knowledge. Conflict is and will remain a necessary part of a generative group dynamic but it will be as Tim Keller says, done with ‘graceful disagreement.’ May we continue to work with purpose and with love to make this church a place that welcomes all but most importantly the stranger.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Synod diaries - Natal West

I got home late yesterday from the Natal West Synod in Gamalakhe near Port Shepstone. 
For many of us Synod is a mixed blessing of watching the church in action and watching parts of the church in the final stages of rigamortis . 
It was the first time that I actually read the 'blue book' (The agenda with resolutions, reports & other such miscellaneous) from cover to cover before arising at the Synod. I must admit this helped me understand the gist of the debate most of the time.  It kept me engaged, that is until last day when the District finances were given.  The finance committee of our district should get a medal for being inept but like all things in Rome they were nominated into position again.  

I promised myself not to lean on the negative but to see the hand of God in the place.  The addresses (bar the Bishops - my humblest apologies) were very good. Alfred Dlamini spoke on John 15 and re-emphasized the need for us not just to 'abide' in this church of ours but to bear fruit.  Alan Bester gave two exhortations on the text from Luke 24 (Emmaus).  The first one emphasized the shattered dreams of the two disciples Jesus met on the road to Emmaus and the second one he focused on 'burning hearts', 'opened minds' and telling witness of once he revealed himself to them. We were given time after the first message to respond as we examined our broken dreams etc.

I was also impressed by our three ordinands and their testimonies.  I think it has been due to the years of having to do deep theological reflection throughout assignments and especially their practical 'transformation assignments' that showed itself at Synod. 

There is no doubt that the Seth Mokitimi Seminary has injected a whole new dynamic to this district. Where once this district use to be a back water it now has representatives from the seminary that have upped the debate on the floor.  

Although leaving with my brain half dead there was indeed light, but you had to look hard.  

A quote from one at my table during Synod "The word became flesh and then the theologians made it words again". 

Grace to you all, 


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bringing heaven to earth - Ross Olivier

We enjoyed the company of Ross Olivier, the President of Seth Mokitimi Seminary in PMB on Sunday evening. He spoke about Mission and the local church and used his experience in the church at Galloway United Methodist in Jackson, Mississippi.
If you want some encouragement in your local setting of vision and down to earth thinking then Ross is your guy. What I took away for myself was to bring Hilton Methodist Church’s vision closer to the members of the church. To be encouraged to continue working to bring this vision into effect in every ministry of our church.
I loved his personal vision and now the vision of the Galloway church – to bring heaven to earth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

bits of racism (a poem)

A poem that expresses the racial fear still inherent in South African society. 
The poem inspired by an incident where an aged white couple were taking their regular afternoon stroll
and on seeing a black stranger walking toward them quickly turned back in fear.


Black and white the dreaded mix

A land torn threw with careful eyes 

That walk apart, that pray aside

Two gods of earth ne'er glorified

Two walked an aged slant up hill 

A soulless stride a goal free day. 

Another day, another time to waste away. 

The route was worn from seasons, yawn 

This day it changed for them aged white 

A black in younger dress than them 

Upon the route the other way 

Came threatening, black and white. 

On heal they spun a history learnt 

Back the way and away they went

Who knows the fear of mix has lent 

A hand in all our broken politics. 

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A new time - A new approach -A new paradigm

Gordon McDonald’s book: “Who stole my church” is a very helpful book for all of us struggling to make our message agreeable to a new generation of folk. A generation that is skeptical of too many words and eloquent speeches. In the age of information overload people are not looking for more knowledge but they are looking for authentic life-styles that they can follow. They are judging the words with the actions and will follow those who smack of the authentic. McDonald (note the burger) suggests that ‘belonging’ is the critical value and culture to create in the church. Through an open culture of belonging people freely come in and make up their own minds when the time is ready to believe. Gone are the days of neat packages and tight phraseology that bought you a ticket to that heavenly place. Yes, it is all about the relationship.