Advent TIDINGS

St Francis of Assisi Parish Newsletter
December 2000

 

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St Francis of Assisi Anglican Church, 373 Milner Street, Waterkloof, 0181 Tel. 012-346 1106/7, Fax: 346 4226.
http://www.st-francis.co.za       mail@st-francis.co.za
Clergy: Robin Heath, June de Klerk, Colin Paine, Ed Smith, Gloria Smith
Deacons: Martzi Eidelberg,  Liz Horne (children's chaplain)
Editor: Mark Napier. Email: mnapier@csir.co.za Typing: Christine Lawrie. Production: Anne Allison. Collation: Amy Macnamara


Foreword

At this time last year we were saying farewell to the Breytenbachs. Martin was moving on to his new mission in the Northern Province, and we remembered the time that the family had spent with us. The year seems to have flown past, and our prayers are again with the Breytenbachs as they face a new and difficult challenge in their lives as a family. At the same time we celebrate the coming of Christ as a child born in the humblest of circumstances in Bethlehem (made all the more real by each birth we witness, including that of Jennifer, to Mark and Jo Krug).

It seems to be timely to re-examine the meaning of Christmas at the dawn of a new millennium. Despite unprecedented advances in technology which might lull us into thinking that humanity is really pretty clever, the gap between rich and poor is still growing. Despite medical knowledge that has finally mapped the human DNA, we are still seemingly unable to contain the spread of diseases, particularly in developing countries. And despite advances in the understanding of the human psyche and the pathologies which apparently cause 'sin', conflicts and wars continue to beset us.

So, at the turn of the century when most things seem to be within our grasp, but the most important things, such as happiness and peace, still elude us, perhaps we do still need God, and his Son who came to us in peace. May our experience of God be ever richer in the coming year.

Ed.


Contents

Foreword
From the clergy
Letter from Liz Horne
Christmas prayers
Ten commandments for Christmas
From the children
That Christmas feeling
Letter from Betty Addison 
Jennifer Krug
African Enterprise prayer chain
Important recall notice!
Mary had a little lamb
A prayer to Jesus our Saviour
Children's letters to God

 

 


From the Clergy...

Dear Friends in Christ,

I have had to deal with a number of people this year, who either wanted me to baptise their children, or perform their marriage ceremony, which is always a joy, but refused to join the church, or attend preparation classes, and even demanded that I do the ceremony at their home or elsewhere, and refused to understand that I am not permitted to do as they requested.

Usually this is followed by a lecture telling me that they are just as good a Christian as I am, and that they give to Civilian Blind, SPCA etc. etc., and are generous and god-fearing people.

As a result, I have formulated the gospel according to Robin, which goes something like this:-

You may well be a better, more generous person than I am but you cannot consider yourself a Christian if you are:

1. not an active part of the body of Christ (Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12);
2. not using your God-given gifts to build up that body or receive from it;
3. not tithing to the work of the body of Christ as well as giving to charity (Malachi 4); and
4. not reading your Bible and praying daily (Thess. 5 :17, 2 Thess. 3 and Luke 18).

The Catechism of the Anglican Prayer book also has a lot of sound advice (please read it sometime), which includes paragraph 82 on What is the duty of all Christians?

"The duty of all Christians is to follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray and give for the spread of the kingdom of God."

The Bishops of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa described the duty of all Anglican Christians of our church thus:

"The Father expects all his people to witness to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring others to a knowledge of him."

The Anglican Church in Southern Africa shares in this call, and every baptised and confirmed member must share in God's mission to the world.

To this end your lifestyle as a Christian should include these responses to God's love for you:

To come to God in personal prayer every day
Read the Bible daily
Receive Holy Communion frequently and in expectant faith
Follow the example of Jesus in daily life
Speak about Jesus openly, as the Lord whom you know
Work for justice and reconciliation
Uphold Christian standards of marriage
Bring up children to love and serve the Lord
Give money for God's work and to consider the claims of tithing
Give personal service to the Church and to your neighbour
Let your life be marked with self-denial and simplicity"

I really do feel we have a duty to our fellow beings to point out what the cost of being a real Christian involves. We of course need continually, to do some soul searching into our own lives and lifestyles, and Advent and Lent are the two seasons in the Church's calendar that encourage us to do just that, then to repent of any wrongdoing or living, so that when Christmas comes we can truly worship the Christ-child as newborn Christians.

My wish is that all of us may spend Advent wisely and well, it may be painful, but that's how we grow and mature.

On behalf of all the clergy and staff, have a truly blessed and memorable Christmas. Be alert, be careful and be refreshed.

Yours in the service of our Lord Jesus.
ROBIN


Letter from Liz Horne

Dear Friends

The end of another year has arrived. Somewhat faster than I had expected. This year has been a challenging one, but also a year full of fun and excitement. First let me take a minute to thank everyone in the parish for making me feel like one of the family. A special thank you to the leadership for all the encouragement and support that you have given me.

A huge Thank You must go to all the children's church teachers. Without you and your support and help I don't think that I could have managed. Thank you for your dedication to the Lord and His work with the children. And I pray that this Christmas break will be one of renewal and refreshing for all of you.

On this note I want to make an URGENT APPEAL to anyone who feels called to, or who would like to become involved in, the children's church as teachers, to please contact me. At this stage we are running a little short on teachers for the new year.

To all our children; Thank you for being so incredibly special. To those of you who are going away for the holidays, enjoy it and remind mom and dad to drive safely, so that you can all come back and join us next year. Remember that Christmas is not just about getting and giving presents, but that it is a time for us to remember (extra specially) how much God really loves us, and how much we should love Him. I hope you all enjoy opening up your Advent Calendars, and doing the different activities. Remember that we want to see the finished product on our first Children's Church Sunday next year.

I pray that this holiday period will be filled with the joys of knowing that Jesus truly loves each of us in a special way, and that the spirit of giving will extend beyond the physical gifts, to the little acts of love and kindness that can brighten up a life or a home. To the whole St Francis family - have a very Blessed Christmas and a peaceful New Year. And to the children, we will see you all back in the hall on the 19th of January.

God Bless
Liz


Letter from Betty Addison

Kloof
27 October 2000

Dear St Francis Friends

When I arrived home from six weeks in Canada visiting family, I found your invitation to me to attend you 50th anniversary celebrations. I am so sorry that I was not able to be with you on that great occasion. I have always felt that part of me still belonged to St Francis where we were members for so long, and from where I was ordained deacon. St Francis always brings back memories of my dear Pat as a lay minister, and also Registrar of the Diocese - and also of our children growing up, and attending Sunday School etc.

I hope you had a wonderful celebration on the 7th October, and I look forward to seeing many of you when I next visit Pretoria.

Yours ever
BETTY ADDISON


AFRICAN ENTERPRISE PRAYER CHAIN

by Trevor Anderson

It must have been almost two years ago that Chris Hodgson phoned me one evening to ask me if I would be prepared to assist with the AE prayer chain. The chain members each spend half an hour in the church on the second Saturday of each month. At the time, I was a little awed by the idea of that sort of time being spent on what appeared to be so small a focus, but let me tell you what a wonderful experience it has proved to be! Let me share how I have gone about it.

On arrival, I find a nice soft kneeler, and "get down to it". Because it is usually fairly early in the day, I can really open my heart and give thanks for the start of such a beautiful day. Then I turn to the matter in hand, and the most rewarding approach is to really focus on the words of the Prayer for Africa.

God bless Africa
Guard her children
Guide her leaders
And give her peace

The first word just puts me in awe of the great presence with whom I am communing. "God"! My mind tries to comprehend his greatness, his power, his presence, his very being and his potential. In no time at all, I feel attuned to the task. Then, in the context of this great continent, I try to imagine what I/we mean when we ask Him to "bless" Africa. What form do we want such blessing to take? What would the people of Africa regard as His blessings?

The mind runs, and there is plenty to think about. Then - "Africa", this vast mass of land from the Cape to Cairo, with so many countries, so many peoples, so many leaders, and, sadly, so much misery and so much strife. Then I narrow my focus to our own country in particular - and almost immediately I think of KwaZulu-Natal, and the dreadful strife, which was prevalent there not too long ago. I am aware of how much African Enterprise has done there, and so plead that we never have a repeat of the carnage of days gone by.

When I move to the second line, I try to envisage what I think we mean when we ask God to "Guard" the children. Think only of the atrocious images of starvation, violation, neglect, and hardship (not to mention pictures of children bearing arms in war), and it becomes easy to intercede for guardianship. In this process, I have indeed also covered "her children" as well. In these times, it is obvious that AIDS orphans need our prayers and help as well.

Then, at the start of the third line, I beg God to "Guide" - and what a wealth of possibilities comes to mind, of ways in which the Church, scriptures and religious teachings could transform our continent and our country. Inevitably, then, I must consider 'her leaders' - and so one runs through the better-known, like our own State-President, our neighbours in the South African Development region, and then further afield, eventually remembering Gaddafi in the north! On a good day, we could probably spend a full session on these people alone! Again, one thinks of the leadership of the people and parties in KwaZulu-Natal, and one prays more avidly for the fragile peace to remain.

Finally, the line, "And give her peace." What a plea we need to make here! The strife in Angola seems permanent; threatening to destabilise Namibia as well; the lad issue in Zimbabwe can hardly be regarded as symbolic of peace; the violent crime in our own country; the farm killings; the war in the Congo; the simmering state of peace between Tutsis and Hutus; the Eritreans and the Somalies - and so it goes, on and on.

As you would appreciate - a mere half hour cannot allow full justice being done on the topic - but, nevertheless, it is a truly fulfilling experience to be able to pray and meditate so deeply on such matters. I have an idea that Chris sometimes battles to find people to "man the shop" for the time required, and so I would plead with you to let him know if you would be available to become another link in the chain, and share in this very special exercise.

(Source: Trinity Lynnwood's church magazine)


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Christmas prayers

Come now, high king of heaven.
Come to us in flesh and bone.
Bring life to us who are weary with misery.
Bring peace to us who are overcome with weeping, whose cheeks are covered with bitter salt tears.
Seek us out, who are lost in the darkness of depression.
Do not forget us, but show mercy on us.
Impart to us your everlasting joy, so that we, who are fashioned by your hands, may praise your glory.

The Exeter Book


Let your goodness, Lord, appear to us, that we, made in your image, conform ourselves to it. In our own strength we cannot imitate your majesty, power, and wonder; nor is it fitting for us to try. But your mercy reaches from the heavens, through the clouds, to the earth below. You have come to us, a small child, but you have brought is the greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love. Caress us with your tiny hands, embrace us with your tiny arms, and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries.

Bernard of Clairvaux


Celebrating

What have we done to your
birthday, Lord?
You came in the dark silence of
night, with softly muffled stable sounds.
We "remember" with
stereos on high volume,
jingling bells, and loud parties.
You came to us surrounded by brown -
animals, dirt floor, straw, and
wooden manger.
We "remember" with brilliant reds, greens, and
glittery tinsel.
With our sounds and colours of
celebration, do we truly
remember,
or simply
refashion
and thus reduce the glory?


Ten commandments for Christmas

1. Thou shalt not leave CHRIST out of Christmas making it Xmas. To some "X" is an unknown quantity.
2. Thou shalt prepare thy soul for Christmas. Spend not so much on presents that thy soul is forgotten.
3. Thou shalt not let Santa Claus replace Christ, thus robbing the day of its spiritual reality.
4. Thou shalt not burden the shop girl, the mailman and the merchant with complaints and demands.
5. Thou shalt give thyself with thy gift. This will increase its value a hundredfold, and he who receiveth it shall treasure it forever.
6. Thou shalt not value gifts received by their cost. Even the least expensive may signify love, and that is more priceless than silver or gold.
7. Thou shalt not neglect the needy. Share thy blessings with the many who will go hungry and cold unless thou art generous.
8. Thou shalt not neglect the church. Its services highlight the true meaning of the season.
9. Thou shalt be as a little child. Not until thou hast become in spirit as a little one art thou ready to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
10. Thou shalt give thy heart to Christ. Let him be at the top of thy Christmas list.


From the children
What is friendship?

By Jenna Evans.

This year in the third term, my friends and I decided to be a group with all our friends. After 4 days we made rules. One of the rules was not to play with other children not in the group and I disagreed about this so they said I could leave if I disagreed.

We can apologise to people who we hurt. Being kind to new people. Don't hit people if they hit you. Being careful what you say about people.

Being kind. Helping people. Praying for other people. Being caring and loving. Getting your friends out of fights and trouble. Having a smiling, happy face.

God's love is like a mountain. But ours is onley like a little flower blowing in the wind but it can become like a mountain if other people belive in it to.


That Christmas feeling

Glancing at the lighted plastic face of the Santa decoration, as I was about to pull the plug on him and drag myself to bed, I had the urge to flatten his jolly dimples with my fist. It's not jolly old St. Nick on Christmas Eve, making his famous round-the-world trip in twelve hours. It's tired old Mom on Christmas Eve feeling like she circled the world, and not remembering why.

Shopping. Baking. Decorating. Corresponding. Wrapping. Entertaining. I'd been so busy making things perfect that I'd made a perfect mess of things. I suspected as much when I heard myself saying, "No, you can't have a gingerbread man. You'll get crumbs on my clean floor!" And again when my daughter asked for advice on her gift list and got instead a tiresome list of my endless duties.

But I knew for sure I'd scrambled life when my youngest called from the other room, "Mommy, are you going to be in a good mood on Christmas?"

There was an exhausted mother that first Christmas morning too. She was weary, not from the parties and shopping and baking and trimming, but from giving birth to the Son of God, the one who came to us in simplicity so that we could learn that glory doesn't need decorating, the One who came to bring peace.

"Mommy?"
"Are you still awake?"
"Merry Christmas, Mommy."


Jennifer Krug

Mark and Jo are pleased to announce the arrival of Jennifer at 07:15 on 22 November. Delivery was just under 4 weeks premature, but mother and baby are currently both in good health. Jennifer weighed in at 2.5kg and 44cm long. All is well.

Love/Regards
Mark & Jo


IMPORTANT RECALL NOTICE!

The maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to the serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed, Subsequential Internal Non-Morality, or more commonly known as S-I-N, as it is primarily symptomized by loss of moral judgement.

Some other symptoms:

(a) Loss of direction
(b) Foul vocal emissions
(c) Amnesia of origin
(d) Lack of peace and joy
(e) Selfish, or violent, behaviour
(f) Depression or confusion in the mental component
(g) Fearful
(h) Idolatry

The manufacturer, who is neither liable or at fault for this defect, is providing factory authorised repair and service, free of charge to correct this SIN defect.

The number to call for the recall station in your area is:

P-R-A-Y-E-R

Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN by pressing R-E-PE-N-T-A-N-C-E.

Next, download J-E-S-U-S into the heart. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, the JESUS repair will replace it with:

(a) Love
(b) Joy
(c) Peace
(d) Long-suffering
(e) Gentleness
(f) Goodness
(g) Faith
(h) Meekness
(i) Temperance

Please see operating manual, HOLY BIBLE, for further details on the use of these fixes.

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human unit without correction, voids the manufacturer's warranty, exposing owner to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded.

For free emergency service, call on J-E-S-U-S.

DANGER: The human units not receiving this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect must not enter heaven or else heaven will be infected.

Author: The Creator.


Mary had a little lamb

From Joan Jones

Mary had a little Lamb,
His fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went,
The Lamb was sure to go.
He followed her to school each day
Twasn't even in the rule.
He made the children laugh and play,
To have a Lamb at school.
And then the rules all changed one day,
Illegal it became,
To bring the Lamb of God to school,
Or even speak his Name.
Everyday got worse and worse,
And days turned into years.
Instead of hearing children laugh,
We heard gunshots and tears.
What must we do to stop the crime
That's in our schools today?
Let's let the Lamb come back to school
And teach our kids to pray!


A prayer to Jesus our Saviour

Lord, hold my hand,
I so need your loving kindness;
Lord hold my hand
All through life, in joy or grief.
Lord, hold my hand,
When I'm sick with fear and anxious;
Lord, hold my hand
In the wonder of relief.
Lord, hold my hand
When it's dark and storms are raging;
Lord, hold my hand
And help me live it through.
Lord, hold my hand
When I'm lifted, joyful, loving;
Lord, hold my hand
When I 'm trying something new.
Lord, hold my hand
When I fail or faint or waver;
Lord, hold my hand
For I know your love is true.
Lord, hold my hand
When I'm lonely, weary, ageing;
Lord, hold my hand
When there's only me - and You.
AMEN
Praise His name.


CHILDREN'S LETTERS TO GOD

Dear GOD
Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don't You just keep the ones You have?
Amy

Dear GOD
Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother. Larry.

Dear GOD
If You watch me in church on Sunday, I'll show You my new shoes. Mickey

Dear GOD
I bet it is very hard for You to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only four people in our family and I can never do it. Nan

Dear GOD
I read the Bible. What does "begat" mean? Nobody will tell me.
Love Alison

Dear GOD
Are you really invisible or is it just a trick?

Dear GOD
Who draws the lines around the countries?
Jan

Dear GOD
What does it mean You are a jealous God? I thought you had everything.
Jane

Dear God
Did you really mean "do unto others as they do unto you?" Because if you did, them I'm going to really cream my brother.

Dear God
Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy. Joyce


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