Tidings

St Francis Parish Magazine  -  December 1998

Experimental Web Version:  comments to mnapier@csir.co.za



C O N T E N T S

Fore Word

Our Rector Writes

Christmas Message from Njongonkulu Ndungane

Friends Write

A Birthday Card

St Francis Women's Forum

Wandering Priests

Hope

Global View

Beliefs, Caring Attitude,  Good Sermons Draw Church Members

Lighter Vein

CS Lewis

 


Fore Word

Now that Summer has burst upon us with all its beauty and fragrance, we start focussing on the end of the year: exams; holidays and Christmas. The Church calendar shows that we have moved from Ordinary Time to Advent, a time of preparation, waiting and expectation, not only for Christmas but for the Second Coming of Christ on the Last Day.

Advent is a time when we are especially conscious of the powers of darkness into which we want the light of Christ to come. Martin's series on discipleship has enabled us to wait on God's timing with hope, purpose and active preparation for change, without falling into despair, so that we can truly share God's love with all.

Let our prayer this Advent be: "Lord, remove those things that impede us from receiving Christ with joy".
 
 

Martzi Eidelberg



Our Rector Writes
 

Dear Friends in Christ

Vision 2000 - The Next Stage
 

The last few months certainly have been an interesting time to be at St Francis church.
 

We had the parish survey in which we all looked critically at ourselves, and tried to evaluate where we were doing things well and where we needed to improve or grow. That was a necessary though somewhat uncomfortable process. The Parish Council spent a great deal of time analysing and discussing the responses, and then went away for a "Vision 2000" weekend to try to hear what God was saying to us about our goals and plans for the new millennium. That was an exciting and amazing experience, as we began to catch the vision that is spelled out in "Vision 2000" News which you received a few weeks ago. Now we have begun to take action to make this vision a reality in the power of the Holy Spirit.
 

I would like to ask you to do a few things as this process gets underway.
 

First, join me in praying that God will continue to lead us along the way he is mapping out for us (Matthew 6:33). The important thing is not to do what you or I want, but to hear and discern God's voice amidst all the many demands, desires, likes and dislikes (Luke 22:42). It became clear to us at the weekend that many wonderful things are happening at St Francis. But God has plans that are greater even than what we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). We will only be able to fulfil them in the strength of the Holy Spirit - never on our own.
 

Second, join me in welcoming and embracing the vision God is giving us. We are his church - not our own - and Jesus is the head (Colossians 1:18). That means that each of us needs to let go of our pet gripes and preferences, and open ourselves joyfully, enthusiastically to God's leading (Galatians 2:19-20). It has been important to look at ourselves critically (in the constructive sense), but we must not allow ourselves to become negative and judgmental (Hebrews 12:12-15). That was the great sin of the Israelites as Moses led them through the desert to the promised land, and it made God very angry (Hebrews 4:1-3)!
 

Third, join me in asking God to show you where you fit into the vision, because there is no doubt that, in the body of Christ at St Francis, he has a special, unique and evolving place for you (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27). Don't be afraid to discuss this with me or one of the leaders. We would love to help you find your place! We are also committed to helping you get trained and equipped to play your part (Ephesians 4:11-12). One good way to get to know your gifts and discover your calling is to see what appeals to you and try it out. If you find it fulfilling and see positive fruit, then you know it is from God. If not, pray again, consult again, and try again until you have found your place (Luke 11:9-10).
 

Finally, join me in committing yourself to supporting the vision financially (1 Corinthians 16:2). You will see from the Parish Budget for 1999 that we could continue as we are (which is fine) by merely increasing our giving in line with inflation. Or we could grow and develop in the ways God seems to be calling by increasing our giving in the direction of tithing (10% of our income - the basic biblical starting point - Malachi 3:8-10). The giving potential at St Francis, and therefore the potential for increased ministry and mission, is vast. Let's make it happen out of thanksgiving for God's grace to us in Jesus as we joyfully offer ourselves to him for his will to be done in our church (2 Corinthians 8:9; 9:7-8).
 
 

A Time of Expectation
 

Advent is the time of expectation for the church. It sums up the great cry of the early Christians, "Marana tha - Come Lord!"
 

What a joy that we can look forward to celebrating the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas time. But we have much greater things than that to anticipate: one day (the sooner the better as far as I am concerned) he will return in glory to establish forever his reign of justice, love and peace. In the meantime we are not alone. Jesus who died and rose again for us, has promised to come and be with us in every experience of life.
 

We need to be a people of expectation - expecting God himself to meet us daily, and expecting him to do the great things that he is showing us for St Francis. What is your level of expectation? Does the thought of year-end holidays and Christmas fill you with anxiety, or do you see it as an opportunity to worship and celebrate God's loving intervention in our lost world? For many, Christmas is a sad and empty time as it accentuates their loneliness and grief. Perhaps God is calling you to invite someone to share in your joy at this time of year.
 

Are you living as though Jesus could return any moment, or has your level of hope and expectation been dampened by routine, stress and the disillusionment of life? If so, invite him to come to you in a new way this Advent and Christmas season, so that he can renew your life. Let us all prepare for 1999 by asking God to fill us with new energy for his Kingdom among us, expecting him to come among us in new and wonderful ways.
 

God bless you this Christmas and new year!
 

Martin Breytenbach


Christmas Message Njongonkulu Ndungane writes for the Sunday Times



Our fast-changing world remains forever a challenge. The modern means of communication, the speed with which we cover distances between continents, and the global nature of our society, all combine to add to the rush of the modern age. Events sometimes move so fast that some of them simply pass us by.

Yet there is a constancy about human nature - a constancy that is emphasised each year as we celebrate the festival of Christmas. For this time is about the festival of Christ, and a reminder that God, in his generosity, sent his only Son to illustrate for us the enduring values that humankind, whatever its belief, has sought to live by for 2000 years.

As we in South Africa think again of the meaning of Christmas, we too need to understand the importance of these values. They are ones that have been clearly identified in our country in the 1990s, but which we still have to embrace with the same fervour with which we sometimes tell the rest of the world about them. These are the values of peace, reconciliation, and compassion.

The need for peace in our society is self-evident. Yet it is a shame that so many people actively engage in acts of crime and violence in our land. In so doing, they subvert the acts of goodwill that have brought about a new democratic order in South Africa and spoil the possibility for the realisation of a better quality of life.

By the same token, those who engage in war or who peddle the wares of war undermine attempts by people of goodwill to bring about lasting peace in our world. There is no reason for an international trade in weapons in a world in which peace is the objective. Related back to our own country and, indeed to our own continent, the trade in small arms has resulted not only in war, but in the escalation of violent crime. We need to do away with our guns and our weapons of war as we are reminded again, at this time, of the vision for a new era of peace: "He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).

Christmas is also the festival when we, as a people, are reminded that we can embrace our new era, recognising that Christ came into the world as our Saviour. In him, God's justice and peace, his faithfulness and kindness were fully and finally revealed. Through his death and resurrection, he reconciled humanity to God, thereby opening a new way of living for us through which we are at peace with God and with one another. In recognising this, we have also to understand that we have to be active agents of reconciliation in this new society which is South Africa.

We have emerged from a crucible of fire where many people have been deeply wounded and scarred. The churches in southern Africa have identified that the healing of our memories as one distinctive contribution which the faith community could and should offer our people. It was a wounded Christ whom God made the instrument of healing in the world.

God has the power to transform agents of brokenness into angels of healing. He call us to be agents of change in a broken world. He calls us to become agents of healing in a wounded society. And as the angels proclaimed long ago over the hills in Bethlehem, he call us to be agents who announce and bring good tidings to all.

To do this we need a caring society. We need a church without walls - a church that has visibility in the community and that journeys with people in their pain, agony, hopes and fears. Thus we must create a society that enables people to understand the meaning of forgiveness, reconciliation and justice.

True reconciliation can only occur when people can muster the spirit of generosity that is deep within each one of them, and reach out in love and compassion to their fellow human beings. Scriptures tell us that we are given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

We cannot afford to ignore this responsibility in our new dispensation. We need to see the possibility for the best in our fellow human beings, and work to bring this out of each other.

Christmas has always been a time of celebration. But such celebration cannot be limited, neither can it be restricted only to those who live in comfort and relative wealth. For Christ came into the world for all people and thus all must be helped in sharing in the celebration. This includes the poor and those whom society has marginalised.

The 1997 United Nations Human Development Report notes that 53% of South Africa's population live below the poverty line of R301 per month. Three quarters of these people live in rural areas; 60% of them are older than 60 or younger than 18. A manager in South Africa earns twenty times the wages of his lowest paid worker, according to the report, while the ratio of a managing director to a worker is 100 to 1.

People of goodwill should need little persuasion in recognising the desperate need that exists for us to address the scourge of poverty in our midst, the high rate of unemployment, and the large number of people who are homeless. It is worth reminding ourselves that the Saviour whose birth we celebrate was born in a stable because there was no room for his mother and father in the inn.

Poverty in South Africa is not the only issue that should tax our minds. Its consequences are aggravated by the high rate of HIV and other diseases such as tuberculosis, as well as the crime and violence to which I have referred earlier.

All of these challenge us again to emulate St Francis of Assisi who showed a deep faith and commitment to God as he reached out to the poor and marginalised. If we are to develop our country as a pacesetter for peace and a stable place for growth, then we have to respond with the same generosity towards our fellow human beings as God responded when he sent his only Son to be our Saviour.

For this, we need to pause amidst the bustle of this fast world and evaluate what we can do. We need to reflect on what is required for such generosity. And we must be open enough to accept, once more, the Christ Child into our arms.


Friends Write

4187 39 th Str.

North, Arlington, VA, 22207

 

T o all our St Francis friends,
 

After nearly a year here it is time to wish everyone a Blessed Christmas once more. We are wondering where this year has gone to. It feels just like the other day when we received your blessing as we departed for the USA. We have had an amazing first year meeting many different people in all walks of life. And we immediately found St Peter's Episcopalian - two minutes walk from home! It is a dynamic church, with both young and old playing an active role in the community of the church. The boys sing in the junior choir, Joy-Margaret in the youth choir and Diana sings in the senior choir, when teaching Sunday School so allows. There is Adult Education at the same time as Sunday School and Robert has presented a talk on South Africa's transformation. Members of this parish were involved in drafting the Lambeth Conference's resolution on international debt and economic justice.

It was great seeing Gwyn Reid a few months ago and we hope to see other St Francis parishioners during our next two years. We are having a wonderful time here but we miss you all and do look forward to being back in the St Francis community.

And so we wish you all the best this Christmas time and throughout the New Year.

Robert and Diana Higgs, Joy-Margaret, William and Richard

 



Anne Marie Smith writes.....

During the prayers at the 9.30am service on 4 October 1998, the Lord gave me a picture of a field of wheat that was ripe for harvesting. The scripture that came to my mind was John 4: 35b - "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest."

The wheat was ripe to be harvested, but unfortunately it was not standing up straight. The stalks were lying down and would be difficult to harvest, because the wheat-field had been battered by storm and wind.

The meaning of the picture was, that there are lots of people ready to accept the Lord. We need to bring this harvest in, but it is not going to be easy, because people have been hurt. This has been caused by all that has happened in this country in the past.

We cannot use a combine harvester, so to say, to harvest the field quickly, but we need to lift up the stalks to harvest them bit by bit, and this is going to take time a effort on our part.


A Birthday Card

Johnny Hart

  It seems to me that since the "fall" - without even thinking it odd - that man has had no trouble at all believing that he can be God. How he would do this I cannot conceive, Though, he certainly thinks that he can - and yet, he cannot bring himself to believe, That God can become ... a man.


ST FRANCIS WOMEN'S FORUM 1999  

We warmly invite the members of the parish (LADIES & GENTLEMEN)

to join us at our next meeting

on SATURDAY 6th February 1999

at the St Francis Church Hall cnr Albert & Long Streets, Waterkloof

Time: 18h30

A light supper will be served and  

FRIEDA HARMSEN  

will address us and present slides on  

THE FACES OF JESUS IN ART

 

Tickets at R15.00 per person will be on sale from 17th January 1999  

Contact persons:

Elspeth Wagner Tel 807-5356

Gesine Buiten Tel 46-2067

Christine Lawrie Tel 346-1106 (Church Office)  

The Faces of Jesus in Art was prepared as a paper for a symposium entitled IMAGES OF JESUS presented by the Research Institute for Theology and Religion at the University of South Africa in September 1997. Other papers dealt with the historical Jesus, Jesus as represented in literature and on film, the absorption of Jesus into African cultures and more. The Faces of Jesus in Art was well received, and then took wings; again and again there were requests for it to be read at other venues to various groups. Some people came more than once because they declared: "Each time you see more".

It shows how, from the second century until now, artists depicted Jesus. Not only do the images reflect the current thinking on theology, but also the spirit of the period, and above all the personality of the artists and their relationship with Jesus.


ST FRANCIS WOMEN'S FORUM

by Elspeth Wagner



The St Francis Women's Forum is a Christian outreach open to ALL women of ALL ages and backgrounds. Our vision is to further God's kingdom here on earth and to learn and have fellowship while we're doing it.

We meet approximately 7 times a year on a Saturday when we invite guest speakers to address us on a wide range of interesting topics. These get togethers are preceded or followed by fellowship and refreshments.

This year has been an exciting year. Sadly for us our leader Brenda Stauch left Pretoria to live in Cape Town. As the Forum was her vision and passion for the St Francis ladies, we wondered if we would be able to carry on without her! We miss her inspired leadership and wish her a very happy life with Joe and the children in Cape Town.

Elspeth Wagner and a dedicated committee are now carrying on the vision and we have had a year of consolidation and growth and go into 1999 with great enthusiasm.

We have had six meetings this year.

Mrs Riekie van den Berg from the Neo Birth Clinic addressed us on a new perspective on abortion - counselling - our hearts were touched and our eyes opened. More than forty ladies from St Francis enjoyed a sensational tea, fun and fellowship at the Odd Plate Restaurant in Centurion (Prue Leith College of Food and Wine). Johanna Thantsa conducted a workshop where we discussed keeping cultural and family traditions alive in the New South Africa. We shared ideas and left with a better understanding and appreciation of each other.

June de Klerk addressed us on the Circle of Life - her work at the Hospice, and gave us insights into the needs of terminally ill patients and what the hospice does to meet those needs.

Gail Blunden entertained us with music and song at our celebration of Spring and we enjoyed a marvellous tea (prepared by the Committee and friends). Recipes and cakes were on sale.

Joy Mol addressed us on freedom in our relationships and our relationship with God. This last meeting of the year was held in the church and tea was served in the Garden of Remembrance. It was a little hot in the garden that day but the beauty of the flowers and the tranquility in our church made up for it.

Our entrance fees for the year go to help pay for our speakers, the security guard and the extra work in setting up the hall and refreshments. The excess this year will go to the Fill-a-Bag and Feed-a-Family project. We are also collecting toys for underprivileged children for Christmas. These toys will be sent to the Louis Botha Children's home.

Our group is growing in numbers and we have invited other churches in the East to join us at our meetings and this is beginning to happen. We go into 1999 with passion and praying that all who come will be blessed by our Lord and Saviour and that His Joy and Peace will permeate our meetings as we grow in fellowship and knowledge of Him and each other.
 
 


Wandering PrIests

by Ed Smith



Three and a half weeks in England and Wales have left us with a memorable kaleidoscope of experiences and impressions. We took in the usual: museums, castles, Hampton Court Palace, Kew gardens, mansions, cathedrals, university colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, travelling on the Underground and London buses. There were also incidents amusing and not so amusing (un-booked bookings) that added extra spice to the tour. The encounters with people and especially with members of the community of faith were particularly enriching.

There was a special Eucharist for conference delegates at 7 am one morning in the Chapel at Westminster College, Oxford. Not many attended but we felt at home with the Methodist Communion Service which is very similar to ours. To get a taste of more formal worship in England we attended the Eucharist in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin (Oxford) and we were not disappointed. We got talking to the deacon and the ensuing conversation revealed that Jane Shaw is a tutor in church history at one of the Oxford colleges. She was due to be priested on 4 October. Paradoxical, isn't it, that this beautiful old church with its wonderful atmosphere of worship is the place where Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer were tried and condemned to be burnt at the stake!

The landlady of the B&B we stayed in near Aberystwyth told us that the most reasonable parking was at her parish church, St Michael's, on the sea front. When we got to the church we were invited to attend their Wednesday morning Eucharist. We felt very at home because of the participation of lay people in reading the Scriptures and preaching. We had coffee and a good chat with the people afterwards. At the time when Dean Jo Seoka was being consecrated as Bishop of Pretoria we were in a morning Eucharist in Chester Cathedral. There was a warmth in the service but we were found the all-male 'cast' strange. However, during the Eucharist a nun appeared to serve people with the cup including us! At Ely cathedral, where Lancelot Andrewes was bishop, we attended a beautifully sung evensong. We found it strange, however, for congregational participation to be limited to the saying of the penitence and the creed.

While we were looking around the ancient Norman Round Church in Cambridge we were invited to join in a short period of prayer for peace. Each participant received a sheet with prayers and responses. At Canterbury Cathedral we came across a place in the crypt where one could write out a prayer that would be offered at the next Eucharist. We wrote a prayer for our Bishop Jo. On our last Saturday evening we joined in a Eucharist in the St James church near Kensington Gardens. There were only seven people present - all staff, except us. We chatted to the assistant priest and the rector. Then the worship leader, a young woman called Emma, came over to chat to us. She was hoping to enter the ministry and would be interviewed by the selection board the following Thursday. While Gloria was in Southwark Cathedral, where Andrewes is buried, she got into conversation with a nun who had served in Zululand.

When we arrived back at Jan Smuts we were received by a customs official who after looking at our passports, said with a big smile 'Welcome home!'. It is indeed good to be back!
 


An inspirational gem from Peter's Pearls - source unknown.

"Before this church can do great things for God" the American preacher shouted, "it's gotta learn to crawl."

"Let it crawl, Rev" shouted the congregation, "Let it crawl."

"And when it's learned to crawl" the preacher continued, "it's gotta learn to walk."

"Let it walk," the congregation responded enthusiastically, "Let it walk!"

Then, fixing them with his eye, the preacher shouted, "And when it's learned to walk, it's gotta run and we all know a church can't run without money!"

There was a momentary silence, then the congregation responded as one man,

"Let it crawl, Rev, let it crawl!"

Would we say the same?
 
 

Maud Charles

From the 'Speaking of Life' Treasury - Faith and Service - Stewardship.

 


Hope

from Martin

A quote from something written over twenty years ago, but perhaps as, or more, relevant to today. From the closing words of a talk for educators given by Dr Michael Burke, the Vicar of Education in the Catholic Diocese of Johannesburg on 23rd June, 1998:
 

Listen my dear fellow South Africans;

If you have no hope, you should get out as soon as possible!

If you have unbounded hope, you should go and see a psychiatrist!

If you can't give up hope, and if you insist on hoping against hope, and are prepared to suffer;

then persist with all the things you have been doing to make this a better country."
 

Alan Paton (1977)


Hope in God

How, O Lord, can I have hope when this world is such an insecure place?

Natural calamities destroy.

Economic uncertainties abound.

Human beings kill.
 

I am the light of the world.
 

What, O God, is reliable? What is secure?

Not people.

Not institutions.

Not governments.
 

I am the way, the truth, and the life.
 

I fear, Lord, that evil will win out in the end.

I worry that my efforts will be for nothing.

I feel overwhelmed by powers beyond my control.
 

I am the resurrection and the life.
 

You alone, O Lord, are my hope. You alone are my safety. You alone are my strength. May I - even with my fears and anxieties, my insecurities and uncertainties - swing like a needle to the polestar of the Spirit.

Amen
 

For the stories behind the biblical allusions see John 9, 11 and 14.

Prayers from the Heart by Richard Foster. From Sid Saks.



Global View

Anglican bishop perplexed at Birmingham's plans to rename Christmas

A Church of England bishop and his local city council are at odds over the council's plans to rename Christmas. Birmingham, one of the biggest cities in the United Kingdom, has chosen the name "Winterval" (a combination of the words winter and festival) rather than "Christmas" for its festivities to mark the Christmas and New Year period.
 

European Kairos document proposes global reform for economic justice

Churches need to step in where politicians have failed, and help to create a fairer global economic system, according to a prominent German theologian. Dr Ulrich Duchrow from Heidelberg said economic troubles in Mexico, Asia, Russia, Brazil and Japan proved that such problems were "not just  regional phenomena, but a crisis of the global system". Dr Duchrow was addressing a meeting in London held to launch the English-language version of the European Kairos Document, which strongly criticises "deregulated market forces", which, it says, is leading to "mass unemployment and social cutbacks" in Europe and "growing injustice" throughout the world.
 

500 years after her birth, churches take a new view of Luther's wife

After special anniversary years in Germany marking the 450th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther (in 1996) and the 500th anniversary of the birth of Luther's co-Reformer, Philipp Melanchthon (in 1997), a series of celebratory events will be held next year to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Katharina von Bora, Luther's wife. The anniversary year for Katharina von Bora will be the first such celebration for a woman from the Reformation. More than 150 events will be held across Germany, including lectures, conferences, theatre productions, concerts and publication launches. Germany's Post Office will also issue a special commemorative stamp.
 

Replace fears of doom with millennium hope, say US Lutheran bishops

The bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a pastoral letter dismissing "wild prophecies" that the world is about to end and declaring that the third millennium should be welcomed with hope. The statement by H. George Anderson, the church's presiding bishop, and the 65 synodical bishops of the ELCA, which has more than 5 million members, said the letter was necessary because of growing apprehension about the turn of the millennium.
  


 
  Beliefs, Caring Attitude, Good Sermons Draw Church Members

by Religion News Service



WASHINGTON - American churchgoers cite three significant factors in their choice of a church - its beliefs and doctrine, how much people in the congregation care about each other, and the quality of sermons, according to a recent poll by the Barna Research Group.

Most churchgoers listed those factors as "extremely important," the Ventura, California-based research organization reported. About 45 percent of adult churchgoers also said three other factors were "extremely important" - friendliness to visitors, involvement in helping the poor and the quality of children's programs.

The results were based on a random telephone survey of 1,015 adults in July. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The study found marked differences among churchgoers of different denominational backgrounds. For instance, according to the survey, Catholics were less concerned than Protestants about theology and doctrine, quality of sermons, how much congregants cared about one another, friendliness toward visitors and the quality of adult Christian education.

Catholics were more concerned than Protestants about the convenience of service times, the length of sermons and the denominational affiliation of the church (specifically, whether it is Catholic or not).

People attending mainline Protestant churches - such as Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran, United Methodist and Presbyterian Church (USA) - ranked three factors to be of much lower importance than did other adults. Those factors were convenience of service times, helping the disadvantaged and how far the church is located from their home.

Adults attending evangelical and other non-mainline Protestant churches placed a higher priority than others on factors such as theological beliefs and doctrines of the church, friendliness to visitors, helping the disadvantaged, quality of sermons and adult Sunday school, and how much congregants cared about one another.

George Barna, president of the research firm that conducted the study, said the distinctions detailed in the survey could be misleading.

"The most fundamental differences are those between Protestants and Catholics regarding doctrine and practice," Barna said. "Apart from that, however, the big story is that people are people. They want substance from their church, they want to make a difference in the world through their church and they need to feel connected to God and to other God-loving people as a result of their church experience."

Barna added that "people will put up with a lot" to have their primary spiritual needs satisfied. "If a church does not satisfy these particular needs, people will feel spiritually unfulfilled and restless and probably search elsewhere for a church home," he said.
 
 



Lighter Vein

CHURCH RELEASES NEW HYMNAL
 
Leaders of the Evangelical Laodicean Church last week announced the publication of a new hymnal. This is truly a hymnal for the new century, said Presiding Bishop Luke W. Armm. This collection of hymns really captures the essence of our tradition, Bishop Armm explained. At the core of our belief is the motto, 'Moderation in all things,' and that applies to our faith life as well. We just don't like to get carried away. When asked if the new hymnal will help the Laodicean Church attract new members, Bishop Armm replied, "Yeah, sure. You Betcha. People in today's society get kind of uncomfortable with too much talk about things like commitment and dedication. They'd much rather have a religion that they can turn on or off at will. Our church seeks to pander -- er, I mean -- meet that need. This hymnal will help with that, I think."

Editor in chief of the new hymnal, Priscilla (Presh) S. Moment, explained some of the difficulty the committee had in choosing hymns. "Many of the old favourites just won't cut it among Laodiceans," said Moment. "We had to change a lot of the wording to make them fit with our style. We tried to incorporate some new songs into the book, but we had trouble finding Laodiceans interested in writing new music. Oh, well." The title of the new hymnal, "Church Songs", was chosen very carefully, explained Moment. "We didn't want to turn anybody off with threatening words that no one understands any more like 'Worship' or 'Hymn.'" Here is a partial list of titles included in the new Laodicean hymnal:



  Famous Conversions: CS Lewis (1898-1963)

The last in the series from the book by Hugh Kerr and John Mulder



It is probably true that CS Lewis has in our time instructed more people in the reasonableness of Christian faith than all the theological faculties in the world. The curious thing is that he has done this almost entirely through the written word, while he himself has been content to remain mostly hidden and inconspicuous.

Like Thomas Aquinas, the 'dumb ox' who roared like a lion, the quiet, scholarly Oxford and Cambridge professor, immersed in his books and his writing , became the foremost Christian apologist of the 20th century.

Without pen and paper, we would likely not have heard of Clive Staples Lewis. Today there are more books and articles about him than he himself produced. And his literary output was substantial, including poetry, literary criticism, allegory, science fiction, novels, children's books, as well as a whole series of volumes on theology and Christian doctrine.

 The so-called space trilogy, which consists of Out of the Silent Planet (1938), Perelandra (1943), and That Hideous Strength (1946), predated the current immensely popular science fiction craze. But Lewis's stories are parables as well as fantasies, and they are devoured by old as well as young readers. The Screwtape Letters (1942), best known and in some ways symbolic of his literary signature, combines all his talents for story-telling with a serious purpose.

The genius of Lewis's impact rests, no doubt, with the fact that he speaks to all kinds of people, the agnostic and the seeker, the child and the adult, the liberal and the conservative. Perhaps his classical training has something to do with his ability to convey meaning for us today out of the collective treasury of Greece and Rome and the whole of Western culture.

CS Lewis has told of his conversion experience in his book entitled Surprised by Joy (1955). The word "joy" is used by him in a special way and is not the same as happiness, gladness, or pleasure. In fact, for Lewis it includes a measure of agony and grief, but if once experienced it is eagerly sought for again and again. As would be expected, his personal account is closely reasoned, deliberate and reflective. And it rings true.