Friday, June 05, 2009

Pentecost 2009

Dear friends

Religion & Philosophy

In our last magazine I reflected on “The Nature of our Easter God”. I sense that some found it a little esoteric. Our Clergy Retreat director had focused on Meister Eckhart (1260-1328), a Dominican, who obtained his Magister in Theologia in Paris. Towards the end of his life he was accused by his Archbishop of heresy, for which he seems to have been largely exonerated, except for a few statements that it appears he recanted. His writings have influenced some of the major German philosophers and he is considered one of the foremost Christian Neo-Platonists of the 14th century. The challenge of the retreat – for me – became a call to allow God to truly be God, and not to limit him with my own humanity.


It was wonderful to have a full three weeks off! Parish Council informed me it was time to stop taking little bits of time off and get serious about recreating! We spent a wonderful ten days in Pringle Bay in the Cape followed by a weekend in Cape Town with very good friends from our Nelspruit days (the Cape weather was idyllic!). We came back via Bloemfontein so Dawn could put in two days work. Time off is always good, so good in fact that I will be taking some time off in July to go to Botswana with Dawn’s Dad.

Our time was not without its trauma. Just before we left, during a wedding reception on the Friday at which I had officiated, the Groom’s uncle was shot dead during an attempted hijacking, which rather threw the proceedings into some chaos. As the Groom’s family are part of our friendship group going back twenty years, and I’d spent the evening talking to the victim, the whole event was deeply traumatic. It appears the victim taunted the hijackers, and that he may have been shot with a weapon stolen from the hotel room of one of the guests at the wedding: sometimes we South Africans are our own worst enemies.

While we were in Cape Town our two children were involved in a very early morning car accident here in Pretoria: fortunately only a shoulder dislocation (from not wearing a seatbelt in the back) and bad bruising (from wearing a seatbelt in the front). It was a friend’s car, and not their fault, fortunately. On our way into Bloemfontein – thanks to the GPS – we ended up in the taxi-rank at 5pm, and looking like sitting ducks (two ‘Whities’ with GP registration and luggage on the back seat) we became the focus of a Smash&Grab in which Dawn lost her handbag … with I.D. … and Drivers License … and Bank Cards … !

Politics & our Future

The last month has been dominated by the elections, the inauguration of our new State President, the announcement of a new Cabinet, and a somewhat immature interaction between Helen Zille of the DA and the ANC Youth League and MK Military Veterans Association. Despite my qualms about Zuma I agree with Zapiro that the “shower head” should be suspended, and both Zuma and the new Cabinet be given time to prove their worth. Zuma’s inauguration speech and new Cabinet show some reflection of Obama’s inclusiveness, and I look forward to a possible new era for South Africa … time will tell! On an economic front it has been interesting to see the Rand strengthen on the news of a free and fair election process, and on the announcement of the new Cabinet. COSATU’s attempt to block the listing of Vodacom on the JSE has seen the first bump in the Rand’s value; and one wonders what the true agenda of COSATU is in this action – perhaps testing their strength under the new political dispensation?

Life – what fun!

In rereading the above, it strikes me that life, especially in South Africa – and probably Africa as a whole – is never dull! And we need to reflect on where God fits into it all. We carry misconceptions of God’s purpose as God, and often these are driven not by incorrect teaching but by our own need as human beings. We ask the question “Why?” of God, and become distrustful of God because God appears to be rather diffident to our need. God chose in Jesus to become incarnate in our world: Emmanuel – God with us. He remains incarnate through the presence of the Holy Spirit. And God’s purpose is just that: to be present. God is with us through the power of the Holy Spirit; not to save us from hardship, trauma, difficulty; but to walk beside us, with us, as a companion and friend, as a helper, as one from whom we can draw strength, comfort, and hope.

As Christians we are called to live this out, to be ourselves this presence in the world and in the lives of others. We are called to involve ourselves in human development, to give of ourselves and our resources; to make a difference that is different because it is part of us, not separate from us. Too often we involve ourselves in acts of charity, and not in self-giving. Charity too often equates to hand-outs; self-giving brings about transformation.

This is our country, our Nation, our society, our community: we have responsibility. How is God’s presence visible through us, God’s Body, God’s community, God’s Church?

Thank You

Thank you to all who contributed to the very generous Easter Offering that I received this year. It is a demonstration of your love, and is enhanced with your care and friendship. Thank you so much!


No comments: