St Francis of Assisi Parish Newsletter
St Francis of Assisi Anglican Church, 373 Milner Street, Waterkloof, 0181
Tel. 012-346 1106/7, Fax: 346 4226.
My dear Parishioners
I read somewhere that whilst 90 percent of the Western world generally believe in God and treat Him deferentially - for large numbers nevertheless (when push comes to shove), he is not actually a vital force in their lives. Their belief therefore does not allow for any conscious experience of a relationship with God.
God does not make any real difference in their lives. This is how I see it however.
The Cross of Christianity can mean many things to many people, but what it can never be is "neutral". Even in circumstances where it is rejected, even here, its intrinsic ever-challenging power is present. The Latin expression EXPERIMENTUM CRUSIS (literally "the experience of the cross") implies that always the cross tries us, probing - demanding a reaction.
The Cross declares in no uncertain terms that it is impossible to have a belief system which to all intents and purposes, excludes God. To "believe" in the Christian sense is much, much more than to merely give intellectual assent to the "concept of God". It is rather, about the unequivocal submission of our lives to the Lordship of God in Christ. Nothing more and nothing less.
And Easter reminds us vividly that this is far easier said than done.
Why? Easter reminds us that suffering and death are part and parcel of the journey of faith, perhaps not in the "physical sense" for most of us, but certainly in many other ways.
Ours is a society in which issues such as poverty, vulnerability, suffering and disappointment are inevitably viewed as matters to be avoided at all cost (if possible). They are deemed 'negative' and placed squarely in the "not-for-me-thank-you-very-much" category. It is essential that we remind ourselves that the Kingdom of God (that Kingdom where we as Christians find our identity as God's adopted children) is NOT based on similar sentiments. God's kingdom does indeed echo triumphant ideals such as "glory", "abundance", "victory", and "power" but these do not stand alone in aloof self-aggrandising splendour. They are intimately and paradoxically linked with those of 'forgiveness', 'humility', 'sacrifice', 'rejection', 'servant-hood', 'powerlessness', and a host of other 'negatives'. The life of faith is not about winning, wealth, status and stature. It's about glory - but God's glory and God's glory is "…. Not of this world."
Our Lord's victory at Easter was steeped in both "glory" and "death and suffering".
Easter reminds us that, whilst the outside world asserts itself and imposes on us all its symbols of greatness and achievement, our experience of Christ's Cross ought to be an ever deepening awareness of the Suffering Servant who in turn calls us to a suffering obedience. The path to union with God says Fr Thomas Merton, " … is a path of self-emptying and self-naughting and not at all a path of self-affirmation, of self-fulfilment …"
No, "belief" in the Christian sense can never be a fickle or convenient thing. A 'doffing of one's hat to God."
Jesus says quite explicitly (and uncomfortably) "If anyone would be my disciple, let (him/her) deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow me .."
To the Cross ..… and then ultimately to the Resurrection. You can't have one without the other.
Forgive me, O Lord, for my complacency.
For a moment I may be stirred by the needs of other people, but I so soon forget about them, and fall into a comfortable way of life, based upon the attitude that because a thing does not touch me personally, it is no concern of mine.
Save me, O Lord, from the spiritual satisfaction that savours of smugness; the process of deterioration that brings me to the place where I can feel nothing of the heartache and distress of those less fortunate than myself.
Grant that I may not be so foolish as to ask for Thy peace when what I really need is a spiritual revolution within my mind and spirit, that will lift me out of my self-centered selfishness and complacency and make me a worthy servant of Thine.
Grant me the costly, yet Christ like, gift of being able to feel deeply the cares and needs of my fellowmen, so that my spirit may develop a sensitiveness to Thy Spirit. It is a challenging thought that my attitude to other people reflects my attitude to Thee. I cannot close my life to the needs of others and keep it open to Thee; nor can I open my life to others without receiving a blessing from Thee.
Thank You, Father
Does anyone have a wise or witty caption to this picture of Robin Heath caught sitting down? The sign in the picture reads, 'Upper Class Toilets' with an arrow pointing in the other direction. Send captions to the Editor or to the Church Secretary.
New York An Episcopal church bishop has condemned the appearance in stores of Easter baskets containing snipers, machine guns and toy ammunition instead of chocolate bunnies.
At a Kmart in New York's Greenwich Village, a display inside the main entrance includes a camouflaged soldier with an American flag arm patch standing alert in a teal, pink and yellow basket beneath a green-and-purple bow. He comes with a machine gun, rifle, hand grenade, knife, pistol and round of ammunition. Another basket has a buzz-cut blond soldier in dress uniform with an American eagle shield on his arm, and a machine gun, pistol, Bowie knife, grenades, truncheon and handcuffs.
Walgreens' assortment, which was later pulled from shelves following consumer protests, included a space-age ray gun and other imaginary hardware for orbital combat.
Bishop George Packard, responsible for spiritual care for Episcopalian members of the armed services, questioned the message sent to Muslims by the melding of a Christian holiday with images of war.
The products, Bishop Packard said, are "really, really bizarre ... Easter baskets have been deteriorating for a long time, but they've really gone over the edge. I am so disturbed, I am so confounded by this bad taste."
Some religious leaders noted that the eggs, bunnies, and chicks associated with the holiday are also unrelated to the narrative of Jesus. They are instead the trappings of Ostara (also known as Eostra), a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility.
Anglican Journal: The Anglican Church of Canada, April 2003 http://www.anglicanjournal.com
LushLife Ministries Inc
Re: The Perfect Pastor (Please, this is not a chain letter)
Results of a computerized survey indicate that the perfect pastor preaches for exactly 20 minutes. He condemns sin, but never upsets anyone. He works from 6am until midnight, and he is also the janitor. He is happy with the R200 per month the church pays him, and even gives R150 to the poor. He wears good clothes, buys good books, and even drives a nice car that is clean, economical, smart, cheap, unpretentious.
He is 28 years old, fluent in English, Greek and Hebrew and has been preaching for 30 years. He is wonderfully gentle and handsome. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all his time with senior citizens.
The perfect pastor smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humour that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 calls a day on church families, shut-ins and members in hospital. He spends all his time evangelising the unchurched and is always in his office when needed.
If your pastor does not measure up, simply send this letter to six other churches that are tired of their minister.., then bundle up your pastor and send him to the church on the top of the list. Within one year you will receive 16 431 pastors - one of them should be perfect.
Warning: keep this letter going. One congregation broke the chain and got its old pastor back in less than three months.
When you are DOWN to nothing … Then God is up to something!
Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible.
Thank God for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment
Remember God answers knee-mail.
A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.
"I've gone for 30 years now" he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the priests are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."
This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the Editor. It went on for weeks until someone responded: "I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment I would be spiritually dead today!"
There are countless things in my life
Ruth Harms Calkin
Natal Witness, 4 April 2003
The Anglican Church in southern Africa has released what it calls a "preliminary report" on same-sex marriages - a union it currently refuses to recognise.
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane said on Thursday that the document, which makes no specific recommendations, is meant to stimulate discussion on the issue.
Its release follows last month's Constitutional Court ruling that twins born by artificial insemination to a lesbian couple are legitimate, a term traditionally used for children born in wedlock.
The report is the product of a committee Ndungane appointed in response to a synod resolution last September requiring the church to clarify its position on same-sex unions.
The report urges the church, which has ten million baptised members, to set in motion a "pastoral process to help the church engage, at all levels, with homosexuality".
It says local church workshops should be held to enable members to "participate in discerning God's word to the church" on homosexuality and same-sex unions.
It also recommends interaction with NGOs, ecumenical partners and educators.
"While sensitive to the need to uphold the unity of the church, we stress that unity should not be allowed to be employed as a delaying tactic as an excuse to avoid the issue," it says.
The committee report said it appears that while the church in the northern hemisphere is ready to legitimise same-sex unions, Anglicans of the southern hemisphere are still "strongly if not resolutely" opposed to the practice.
Asked whether the issue is likely to divide the church, he said there are people in it who recognise the complexity of the issue and appreciate that it is being put on the table.
"I like to hope that this process will deepen our understanding and generate a spirit of respect and tolerance in dealing with issues relating to homosexuality."
'Twas battered and scarred and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden good folk," he cried, who'll start the bidding for me?" A dollar - then two, only two - who'll make it three? Going for three - but no - from the room far back, a grey haired man came forward and picked up the bow. Then, wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening the strings, he played a melody pure and sweet as a carolling angel sings. The music ceased, and the auctioneer with a voice that was quiet and low, said, "NOW what am I bid for the old violin?" - "A thousand dollars, two thousand and who'll make it three? Three thousand once, twice and going - GONE!" cried he. The people cheered, but some cried, "We do not quite understand what changed its worth?" - Quick came the reply - "TWAS THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER'S HAND." And many a man with his life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin, is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin. A "mess of pottage" - a glass of wine, He's going once, he's going twice - and almost gone! BUT The Master comes and the foolish crowd can never quite understand THE WORTH OF A SOUL, AND THE CHANGE THAT'S WROUGHT BY THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER'S HAND!!