Thursday, September 25, 2008

October 2008

Dear Friends,

Challenging Times

I spent ten days in the Richtersveld this month, followed by the Men’s Fly-Fishing weekend in Belfast. In this brief time our political landscape has changed dramatically, and I have returned to civilisation to find ourselves in a new phase of political transition. The rights and wrongs of the recent actions of the ANC in recalling President Thabo Mbeki from the Presidency can be debated, but the reality is that we are moving into a transition phase that will only find some resolution after a national election is called early next year.

During times of transition, complexity, confusion and uncertainty, we need to remind ourselves of our role as Christians within the broader society. Firstly and foremostly, we need remember our first loyalty is to God through Jesus Christ, that our confidence and security is in God and not in the material world around us. Secondly, that we are ambassadors for Christ in the World, and therefore need to allow our Christian values—not our very real human fears—to dictate our words and our actions: we are called to be symbols of hope in the midst of uncertainty. Thirdly, we are called to be people of prayer and instruments for God’s divine intervention in our society: our words and actions should at all times flow out of our daily times of prayer and devotion.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:13 (TNIV) says, “… these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” He comments on the nature of love, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7; TNIV). In these uncertain times let LOVE be our watchword.

The Richtersveld

I spent a wonderful ten days in the Richtersveld with my father-in-law during September. We were with a group of nine vehicles (eighteen of us plus four young children), and spent a great deal of time driving. We entered through Namibia and spent a night under the most massive cliff I have ever seen on the Manchab River Eco Trail. The Richtersveld itself required regular use of 4x4 (I am definitely “shaken, not stirred”) and some “hairy” moments on some very steep and rocky passes. The scenery was enchanting, and so different. One valley would be incredibly lush, and half a kilometre further the next valley quite desolate. Bare mountains, on closer inspection, were full of life, and the most amazing variety of plants survive in gravel. Klipspringer, Dassies and Ground Squirrels were in abundance, and birds—while few—were all new to me. Two of our camps were on the banks of the Orange River, and one high in the mountains. Some intrepid fishermen managed to haul out a Yellow Fish and Cat Fish were in abundance. We covered over 3,500km in the ten days (500km in the Park), set up camp too many times, but nonetheless it was a truly marvellous experience.

Synod 2008

Next time I write we will be on the other side of our Diocesan Synod. Looking through the Agenda Book there are some interesting topics up for debate, and Synod promises to be a productive time. Please keep this time (2-4 October) in your prayers and thoughts.

I look forward to seeing you all at the Diocesan Family Day service on Sunday 5 October 2008, where we will also be celebrating Bishop Jo’s 10th Anniversary as Bishop of Pretoria.