St Francis of Assisi Parish Newsletter
Editor: Mark Napier. Typing: Christine Lawrie. Production: Anne Allison. Collation: Amy
You will notice that this issue of The Franciscan is aptly named the Michaelmas edition - aptly because it falls with the season of Michaelmas. The Feast of St Michael and all Angels occurs on the 29th of September and has been kept so for many centuries.
"Michael is mentioned four times in the Bible, either as aiding Israel against her enemies or disputing with the devil. These passages have led Christians to see Michael, who is always pictured with a sword in his hand, as the protector of the Church and the patron of soldiers. Today's festival is a thankful acknowledgement that, while the Christian warfare is not only 'against human foes, but against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark world' (Ephesians 6:12), yet we also have fighting with us 'the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven'; and, as in the past, so today their power is strong to defend, for they come from the throne of God."
Saints and Seasons CPSA Fr Timothy
My dear Parishioners
Even as I was reminded this week by Christine, that the Franciscan was due, it occurred to me that in spite of the fact that we are all "goodly citizens" of the Parish of St Francis of Assisi, it may well be that not everyone actually knows all that much about our Patron Saint. I have decided therefore to devote my "Rector's bit" in this edition to the person of St Francis of Assisi - a most remarkable character.
Francis, the founder of the Order of Friars Minor was born at Assisi in 1182. The son of a wealthy cloth merchant, he lived a carefree life of music and feasting and revelry. Furthermore, he had a natural attractiveness, which endeared him to likeminded friends. Life was good and life was jolly.
His conversion was a gradual process brought about by a number of factors: He was imprisoned for a year, after a local war with a neighbouring city, a serious illness which almost killed him; and his natural generosity and compassion which made him alert to the needs of others. Each served in some way to "bring him to his senses", each gradually reminding him of the vanity of his pleasure - loving life and forced upon him periods of silence and time to attend to the Divine Love.
The beauty of it all was that when the Light of God did flood his spirit, he opened his being to God with the same impetuous and joyful abandonment as he had opened it to pleasure.
To the astonishment of all, he began to busy himself with social service, with the poor, with visits to churches, with lonely walks and rides.
One day as he was praying in the little ruined chapel of S Damiano, asking God what he should do with his life, the Figure on the Crucifix seemed to speak to him, "Francis, repair my church which is falling into ruins". Without hesitation, Francis responded.
He founded and built up a company of friars ("brothers") who like Francis were vowed to absolute poverty. This was the one binding rule - to be utterly poor, and therefore to be happy in the service of God. They spread throughout Europe preaching the Gospel of God's love in Jesus Christ. What made their witness particularly powerful, was that as the people encountered these religious people going about two by two in the cities and lanes, fields and villages, they saw before their eyes the life of Christ being re-enacted. It was a powerful and life-changing witness.
To many he seems to have approached more nearly to the likeness of the Saviour than any other Christian.
Perhaps this view is not without merit for at the age of 42, on the Feast of the Holy Cross, following a vision of the Crucified Lord, during which Francis became one with His Lord in an agony and triumph of suffering he found on his body the marks of the wounds of Christ. For two years more he lived, but in continual pain, yet still able to break forth into song, still able to bring the Lord's peace to those who would have it. Many illnesses were healed through his healing touch as God's Holy Spirit worked through him. These remained with him until his dying day.
And yet, sadly, of all the Saints Francis is probably the most misrepresented. His deeply scored marks of joy, abandonment and freedom, have romantically appealed to people down the ages because they are what we all desire, but I fear we seldom remember that these virtues are in fact fruits of the Spirit - obtained at a great price (certainly his utter poverty rebukes loudly our own often obsessive dependence upon materialism).
Also, his relationship with nature, which has been exaggerated out of all proportion (reducing him to the status of the patron saint of sentimental birdbaths), has given rise to that kind of gushy poetry and writing which stimulates nostalgia and sympathetic enthusiasm. But what is omitted from the popular conception of St Francis is that he was no dreamer, no romantic folklore figure. His was a real faith, his was a real devotion to the Crucified Saviour of the world. His was a life of true mission. He travelled the countryside preaching much and praying yet more.
When death finally came to him (lying on a bed of ashes) having had read to him the story of the Passion from St John's Gospel, he greeted it with rapture. The adventure had ended with the fulfilment of his prayer: "O my Lord Jesus, two graces do I pray Thee to grant me ere I die: the first, that while I live I may feel in my body and in my soul, so far as is possible, that sorrow which thou dids't suffer in the hour of thy most bitter Passion; the second is, that I feel in my heart, so far as is possible, that exceeding great love wherewith Thou wast enkindled to endure willingly for us sinners an agony so great."
I hope this has helped us all understand that our Patron Saint is not merely some "wussy" (excuse the non-term) character. This remarkable man walked a road of faith which we would do well to emulate. May the true spirit of St Francis dwell richly in the life of our Parish.
I've decided to do this in one go instead of having to write two articles. This year has been a really fantastic year so far, and it looks as though the last few weeks will be just as much fun. The children's church ran our first Holiday Club this year - Shipshapes. A big 'Thank You' must go to the following members of Oasis Youth Group who gave up the first week of their winter holidays to come and work at church: Megan Winn, Richard Brock, Bjorn & Guido Ferreira, Robert Fourie, Brownwyn Smith, Marcel Cronje and friends; Keith, Wesley, Adrienne, and Stephanie. Without these young people's enthusiasm and input the holiday club wouldn't have been the big success that it was. There are still young shipmates at St Francis who will gladly sing (scream) the Shipshapes song for you, as well as tell you one or two of their memory verses. One of the funnies from the week that I don't think any of the team will forget too soon was when one of our younger members very briefly forgot what his name was. But I don't think that will happen again soon, or will it Andrew?
This year has also been quite a sad year for the children's church with the loss of two of our teachers; Lois and Luke Winter who moved to Switzerland. This last term seems as though it is going to go on forever, but we have lots of outside input planned, including a visit from Aunty Anne and her puppet team and the Youth for Christ team.
Oasis youth group has also grown in numbers this year, but our big vision is to grow in spiritual strength as well. We have recently changed our committee and have started a youth intercession team.
This year's camp was a huge success and I'm sure that all those who went won't forget it anytime soon. One of the major highlights for the guys was setting a new team record of 4min and 1 sec on the obstacle course for a group of 10 guys and Fred (the pole). Once again CONGRATS!! We were very proud of you!!!
Some of the guys went out to try and beat the individual record and most came very close, but we'll have to go back next year to get it done. Once again we have hosted the Youth for Christ team. And I want to say a big thank you to those who hosted members, especially those folks who came in at the very last minute to rescue us.
That's it for now, God Bless, Liz Horne
A high school senior went to his father in January of the year he was to graduate. "Dad," he said, "for graduation, I think I deserve a new car."
His father thought a minute and replied, "Son, I'll get you that new car, but first you must do three things - bring your grades up, read the Bible more and get a haircut."
In May, just before graduation, the son went to his father and asked, "How am I doing? Am I going to get a new car for graduation?"
"Son, you've brought your grade average up from a C to an A. That's great," answered the father. "I've also noticed that you've been studying the Scriptures every morning before school. That's wonderful. But you still haven't had a haircut."
"But, Dad," the son retorted, "while studying the Bible, I've noticed that Moses is always depicted in the illustrations as having long hair. Even Jesus had long hair."
At that, the father replied, "Son, you must remember that Moses and Jesus walked everywhere they went - and so will you, unless you get a haircut!"
Sent in by Robin Heath
SUNDAY 27 OCTOBER 2002 P H S OLD BOYS CLUB
Come and celebrate our patronal festival as the family of St Francis Church.
On the 19th July 1588 Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls at Plymouth Hoe when the Spanish Armada was sighted. He refused to leave the bowls lawn until his game was completed……….
Bowls is great fun and we are told anyone can play no matter what the age or experience. All you need are flat shoes or smooth bottomed takkies, or you can play in your socks. If you don't want to play bowls picture yourself chatting to friends, walking in beautiful surroundings, cheering on the bowls teams with great enthusiasm, families having an impromptu game of soccer, squash, cricket or hockey. The sound of tennis balls and children laughing in the playground, and all this with chairs, umbrellas, and the lapa set up ready for our use. Someone remarked to me "It sounds like the good old days Sunday School picnics and parish days we used to have in the country, or at Irene Farms".
Well it's better than that as morning tea and lunch will be provided. We don't need to shop for the picnic basket or quickly rush to the shop or home after church to pack, we don't have to bring along chairs and umbrellas, we don't have to light fires or stand around cooking our own meat and taking our own plates etc, we don't have to clean up or wash dishes - it's all laid on! In addition a bar will be set up in the lapa for us to buy drinks.
All you have to do is buy your tickets, arrive and enjoy yourselves!
Tickets at R5.00 per head are available from the office or after the service. This is a basic cost and the parish will pay the balance for lunch. Drinks must be bought from the ladies bar. As it is a licensed property you are not allowed to bring your own beverages.
So for R5.00 and the costs of your drinks you are going to enjoy morning tea, lunch and a great day out - make sure you're there!!!
Bloemfontein - The Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA) has, at its three-yearly synod, adopted a R22.5 million HIV/AIDS ministry programme to commence immediately.
The programme is a direct result of a year-long strategic planning process. This has gone on throughout the 4 million member Anglican Church, encompassing six of the hardest hit nations on the sub-continent. More than a thousand parishioners participated in strategic planning, which has yielded ministry plans for every diocese of the CPSA. .
The Synod, meeting at the University of the Free State, also unanimously endorsed Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane's call for reduction in the risk of AIDS, including the correct use of condoms. It also adopted, as policy, a five-fold strategy for risk reduction.
* Knowing HIV-antibody status and its consequences through HIV testing; * Abstaining from sexual activity before marriage; * Practising fidelity and faithfulness within marriage; * Delaying the beginning sexual activity in adolescence for as long as possible for those who cannot remain abstinent; and * Correct use of condoms, particularly for those couples in which one is HIV+ and the other is HIV-.
Echoing the Archbishop's words, the Synod said: "Condoms can save lives and effectively prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, when used correctly. The morality of condoms is about preserving life."
In other action, the Synod endorsed a call on the South African government to make Nevirapine available immediately as an emergency measure in order to prevent further spread of HIV through mother-to-child transmission.
For the past 19 months, the Archbishop has led the CPSA in a strategic partnership with COSATU and the Treatment Action Campaign to make life-saving treatments available to South Africans. The CPSA has joined in law suits and actions which demand that the government respond to the AIDS Crisis.
Archbishop Ndungane said, "It is sinful that the government has withheld interventions and treatments that could reduce the effects of HIV. It is criminal that thousands remain at risk for HIV infection and still many more are dying from lack of treatment. This is all because of government's failure to obey the law and act. Again, we call on government to respond with both compassion and due haste. For our part, we hold ourselves ready to implement a partnership for life."
Already, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed R1.8 million for a wellness management programme to be administered through the CPSA's Mothers' Union and the Anglican Women's Fellowship. Additionally, development of an 'AIDS in the Workplace Policy', a youth ministry curriculum on sexuality and HIV, and pilot projects for ministry with orphaned children have been funded for the next year. Other donors to the AIDS ministry work of the CPSA include, US-based Episcopal Relief and Development, Christian Aid of the UK, UNAIDS, the Compass Rose Society and several Anglican parishes in Washington, DC.
Next week, the Archbishop will travel overseas for meetings with a number of international donors who have expressed a desire to fund elements of the Provincial plan for the next three years. The entire plan is expected to cost between R7.5-8 million per year.
The Foot Washing Service just before Easter is one of my favourite services of the year.
Why that is so, I am not really sure. Maybe it is the fact that it is in the evening, when it is getting dark outside and the lights are on inside. Maybe it is because there is only a small group of people present, which gives it an intimacy of its own. Or maybe it is because we re-enact something that Jesus did for his disciples, something that we do not ordinarily do. After the children have grown up, one usually only washes one's own feet, but hardly ever someone else's.
So this year again I went to the service with this sense of it being special. There was however one difference from the normal state of affairs, and that was that I had an excruciating pain in both my ankles, which had been building up for a while already. It felt as if pins had been knocked in horizontally in front of the Achilles tendon, and even while I was sitting down in the pew, that pain did not go away.
Part of the sermon was about the fact that people wore sandals in Jesus' day and that the roads were very dusty, so that people needed their feet washed before reclining for supper, and that it probably also was a refreshing thing. At this point my brain interrupted with the thought: "I wonder whether it would be healing too?"
Anyway, I went forward to get my feet washed, and as I put them into the water, I said half-out-loud: "How refreshing". The young boy who washed my feet, gave me a beautiful smile and carefully washed and dried them. As I walked back to my seat afterwards, I realised that the pain was gone completely. It was as if I was walking on air, and it was truly amazing. And up till now my feet are still fine. At times they are tired, but they have not been that sore again.
Anne Marie Smith
Long prayers and long sermons tend to quench the fire instead of kindling it. Brethren, in all things has our Lord Jesus given us the best example - also in regard to praying. When with His disciples, His prayers were of medium length. In the midst of a large crowd, as at Lazarus' grave and the feeding of the five thousand, His prayer was short. When He was alone with His Father - in the Garden or on the Mount - then He prayed all night.
So ought ye also to do, dear brethren. Among God's children, make your prayer medium long, as Jesus did when He was about to be crucified. When in a crowd or with the sick or dying or the unfortunate, short. When you are alone with your Father in your secret closet, pray as long as you please
C H SPURGEON
From Joan Jones
There was a professor of philosophy who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn't exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him because of his reputation.
At the end of every semester on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, "If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, "Because anyone who believes in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He can't do it." And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students would do nothing but stop and stare.
Most of the students thought that God couldn't exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up.
Well, a few years ago there was a freshman who happened to enrol. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about his professor. He was required to take the class for his major, and he was afraid. But for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said, or what the class thought. Nothing they said could ever shatter his faith …. he hoped. Finally, the day came. The professor said, "If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom.
The professor shouted, "You FOOL!!! If God existed, he would keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!" He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away unbroken. The professor's jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man, and then ran out of the lecture hall. The young man who had stood, proceeded to walk to the front of the room and shared his faith in Christ for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of Jesus' love for them and how to be followers of our beloved Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
From Terry Brauer
A man accustomed to a mainline church went to a seekers' service one Sunday. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," he said, "it was interesting. They did something different. They sang choruses instead of hymns."
"Choruses?" said his wife. "What are those?" "Oh, they're okay, I guess. They're sort of like hymns, only different," said the man.
"What's the difference?" asked his wife. He replied, "Well, it's like this. If I were to say to you, 'Martha, the cows are in the corn,' that would be a hymn. Suppose, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
'Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA, the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows, the white cows, the black and white cows, the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn, the CORN, CORN, CORN.'
Then if I were to repeat the whole thing five or six times, that would be a chorus."
As luck would have it, the same Sunday a young woman accustomed to seekers' services attended a mainline service. She came home and her husband asked her how it was.
"Well," she said, "it was interesting. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of choruses."
"Hymns?" said her husband. "What are those?"
"Oh, they're okay, I guess. They're sort of like regular songs, only different," said the woman.
"What's the difference?" asked her husband.
She replied, "Well, it's like this. If I were to say to you, 'Ernest, the cows are in the corn,' that would be a regular song. Suppose, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
Oh Ernest, dear Ernest, now hear thou my cry; Incline thine ear to the words of my mouth. Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.
For the way of the animals who can explain? There is in their heads no shadow of sense! Hearken they not in God's sun or his rain. Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.
Yea, those COWS in glad bovine, rebellious delight Broke free from their shackles, their warm pens eschewed. Then goaded by minions of darkness and night. They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.
So look to that bright shining day by and by, Where all the corruptions of earth are reborn, Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry, And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.
Then, if I were to sing only verses one, three, and four, and if I were to do a key change on the last verse, that would be a hymn."
Author Unknown (perhaps with reason)
A little boy was attending his first wedding. After the service, his cousin asked him, "How many women can a man marry?" "Sixteen," the boy responded. His cousin was amazed that he knew the answer so quickly. "How did you know that?" "Easy" the little boy said. "All you have to do is add it up, like the preacher said: 'Four better, four worse, four richer, four poorer'!!"
The perks of being over 40
1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.
2. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
3. No one expects you to run into a burning building.
4. People call at 9pm and ask "Did I wake you?"
5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.
6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.
7. Things you buy now won't wear out.
8. You can eat dinner at 4pm.
9. You enjoy hearing about other people's operations.
10. You get into heated arguments about the pension plans.
11. You have a party and the neighbours don't even realize it.
12. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.
13. You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.
14. You sing along with elevator music.
15. Your eyes won't get much worse.
16. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.
17. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.
18. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
19. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.
20. You can't remember who sent you this list.