UMC blog


  • The power of hospitality Mar 19, 2017

    On Wednesday morning and evening our Lent course groups watched scenes from the movie Chocolat where the leading character, Vianne, befriends two wounded, broken women in her community. These two ladies are the sort of people you might be tempted to greet politely and then avoid – they are difficult and needy. But Vianne shows us another way: she spends time with them, and gives them the gifts of listening attentively and non-judgmentally to their stories and treating them as people of value. These seem to be pretty basic courtesies but the kindness Vianne shows is very powerful. It transforms both of these women – they blossom when treated with dignity. She literally changes their lives.

  • Lessons from our garden Mar 12, 2017

    In preparation for Michael’s birthday a few weeks back, I spent some time with our children asking them for gift ideas for their dad. I had the somewhat challenging task of translating their ‘creative’ ideas (a chainsaw and a ride-on lawn mover being the two that topped their list) into slightly more workable options. Since the garden theme came up quite often, and I had recently had tea with a friend who showed me her beautiful veggie garden, we decided to encourage the children to do some gardening at home. We went to a nursery where they each picked out some seedlings, and we raided our vegetable drawer at home for veggies with seeds that we could plant. We identified a place in the garden least likely to be dug up by the Labrador/slept on by the Great Dane and got to work.

  • Chocolate in Lent Mar 05, 2017

    We’re into the season of Lent and around the circuit this last week our people met on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of this holiest of seasons in the Christian calendar. Lent is understandably a solemn time as we accompany Jesus on a 40 day journey to the cross, reflecting on the all that his sacrifice means.

  • Sight versus insight Feb 26, 2017

    Today I was trolling (?) scrolling (?) meandering through Facebook as I have been known to do on occasion when I came across a YouTube video performance by Il Divo, an international quartet performing Amazing Grace. It was a truly “amazing” rendition and while I have heard this song literally hundreds of times, I was particularly struck by the line “I once was blind, but now I see”. Let me tell you why.

    Many of you won’t know that when I last preached at Umhlali in October 2016, as I stepped into the Vestry at 07:45, I lost the sight in my left eye! I wasn’t sure what was happening and didn’t t...

  • Listening Feb 19, 2017

    I’m just back from another week of MTh lectures in Stellenbosch and once again the coursework was excellent – very helpful and it challenged my thinking in a number of ways. I’m grateful for the learning journey that this course has been. Accommodation this last week was another story. It was the first week of the university term - all the inns were full and I couldn’t even find a decent stable! I ended up spending the week in a backpackers hostel where every evening I would fall asleep at about the time that my fellow residents were heading out to town.

  • Queue lessons Feb 12, 2017

    Last week I had the great joy of being able to spend six (6!) hours in the home affairs department. I arrived with a good book, what I thought was a good attitude and a good sense of humour. By the time I had finished my book, my good attitude and sense of humour had long since left the building... But, it did give me the opportunity to reflect on a few things, which have stayed with me

  • Renewing our covenant with God Feb 05, 2017

    On 11 August 1755 John Wesley held the first of what would become an annual service in the Methodist tradition. In worship today, we are invited to renew our covenant with God. We are reminded that God has come in search of us, demonstrating his love for us by sending Jesus who laid down his life for us and in doing so, offered us the gift of friendship with God.

  • 2017 plans Jan 29, 2017

    This past week seems to have been a week of meetings, with back-to-school parents' and policy evenings and various corporate meetings being held to get the year well and truly under way. Included in this week of meetings was our quarterly leaders meeting, which met on Tuesday. Part of the purpose of this quarterly meeting is to report back on all that has happened in the past quarter and make decisions regarding what is to come. The meeting that took place on Tuesday met to review some aspects of 2016, but also to look forward towards some hopes and dreams, and plans and goals for 2017.

  • Eskom Sabbath Jan 22, 2017

    We had a power failure on Thursday morning at the church. Whenever this happens you can hear up to three groans in the office at varying decibel level, depending on how important whatever was happening on the computer was. And how recently the document had been saved... So, we had to manage without being connected, coffee’d or cooled for a couple of hours.

  • Super-powers Jan 15, 2017

    If you could have any super-power, what super-power would you choose? We were discussing this question at dinner one evening, and I really enjoyed hearing our children’s creative answers (invisibility, the ability to breathe under water and the ability to generate a never-emptying pudding jar being just a few that came up!) Since then, I have often found myself wishing in a moment that I had a particular super-power: the ability to transform my car into a helicopter so I could fly over the back-to-school traffic, the ability to make school lunches by simply thinking about them from the couch, and while we’re thinking about it, that I could think myself fit (also from the couch, perhaps with the never-ending pudding jar close at hand!)