Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March/April 2013 - Freedom & Hope

Dear Friends

Lent and Easter

Our Lenten Journey draws to an end, and the Easter Celebration is in sight.

 As we began our Lenten journey I shared a thought from Scott Shauf (from the Working Preacher website) for our prayer during this season, that prayer should be seeking the powerful presence of God in our lives. On one level prayer is simply our ongoing conversation with God, but as we know from the variety of relationships that define and form our lives, communication can be complicated and complex. Our Good Friday Service will help us reflect more on the complexity of prayer as we focus on seven forms: petition, confession, adoration, intercession, meditation/contemplation, thanksgiving and consecration. I do hope you will be able to join us for the full three hours.

My preaching over this Lenten season has been impacted by Anthony de Mello’s book, Awareness. Part of the challenge of experiencing the powerful presence of God is awakening to reality, and I have shared something of the discomfort of de Mello’s thinking. His thesis that self-interest remains a defining dynamic in human interaction despite the transformative presence of the Spirit of God in our lives is perhaps the most challenging. Lent certainly impacts on self-interest as we touch on prayer, fasting and alms-giving; in some form each touch on our self-interest and asks us to look to the interests of others as well. As I look at my cupboard I have to ask why it is so hard to pick out the clothes I haven’t worn in over a year and donate them to others who do not have the luxury of overflowing shelves. I’m struck by how bound I am to my possessions. Part of the Lenten challenge is to rediscover our freedom and our hope; it is also for us to become resources of freedom and hope for others.

This brings us to the paradox of the Easter events, that it is only through death that life can be truly and eternally discovered and experienced; and that despite our mortal limitation, we are – as God’s people – already embraced by eternal life. Our Easter Vigil Service seeks to enlighten us as we experience again the brightening hope of the Easter fire; our reflection on humanity’s experience of living in relationship with the Creator God who’s presence is also restorative and life-giving, and is celebrated in the renewal of our Baptismal promises; and as the rising son brightens the dawn, we share together in the Eucharist, in the flesh and blood of Christ, in the hope of resurrection. In walking this journey afresh we are once again renewed: forgiven, healed, restored.

Archdeaconry & Diocesan News

Secondment: our self-supporting assistant, Fr Steve Verryn, has been seconded at the Bishop’s request to the Hennop’s River Archdeaconry where he will be looking after the Parish of St Stephen in Lyttleton for the next few months. Please keep him and the family in your prayers, and I’m sure a phone call won’t go amiss!

Consecration: the Bishop was present with our former Chapelry of St Agnes in Stanza Bopape (Mamelodi) to bless and consecrate their new Church building in Mahube Valley on Sunday 17 March 2013. They have struggled for years to find land, meeting year after year in a classroom that continuously proved too small. The completion of their building has been a wonderful blessing for them.

Cathedral Update: a successful special Vestry was held on 17 March 2013 to elect Churchwardens and Councillors. Those who have read the local rag will have noticed that this did not happen without the normal challenges to the Bishop’s authority. Please continue praying for the normalisation of the situation at the Cathedral, for the Bishop, the Diocesan and Cathedral leadership, and the Cathedral Parish, that the mission and ministry imperatives of the Diocese be restored in that community.

As Lent draws to conclusion, may we all experience a life-giving and restoring Easter!

Easter Blessings