Our October newsletter is out and available for download here - enjoy!
The September edition of our newsletter has been published - you can read it here. Thanks so much to our editor, Ferdi and all who contributed to this edition.
Our August newsletter is out! Thank you to Ferdi and the team for pulling it all together. You can read it here
Our UMC leaders took a decision this week to suspend our services until after Easter. Although we could have taken another approach and held smaller services (ensuring that the numbers were strictly below 100) our view is that we want to support the President's call for social distancing as wholeheartedly as we can - especially if doing so will help our country fight this pandemic and reduce harm caused to vulnerable people.
What more can possibly be said about the coronavirus? We remember other infectious diseases (Ebola, SARS, Swine Flu) and we vaguely remember the panic they caused at the time, but the present crisis does seem pretty all-consuming at the moment, doesn’t it? Listening to conversations about COVID-19 (which, I discovered this week, is short for COrona VIrus Disease 2019) I’m encouraged to hear many people calling for us to calm down and be sensible.
I’ve been up to Joburg twice in the last week for meetings – both visits reminded me that we are part of a very big Methodist family in Southern Africa. The first meeting was a workshop of members of our synod disciplinary structures from around the Connexion. Each synod has a committee that handles disciplinary hearings and I serve on the one in our synod.
This morning is the first Sunday of Lent – our journey together to Easter has begun! At our Ash Wednesday service this week we talked about how Christians traditionally practice various spiritual disciplines during Lent – some will fast (give something up), others will take on a new practice for the six week period. Whatever we do, we don’t want to do this to impress others, or satisfy the inner critic within ourselves. Instead we’re invited to come closer by the God who believes in us, roots for us, and whispers over us “this is my beloved child – I am so proud of you!”
I remember someone telling me years ago of a question put to a public figure that went: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” We talked about how clever this loaded question is because whether the person answering the question says yes or no, they are admitting to having assaulted their wife. Which, of course, is to display the same terrible insensitivity that was displayed by two members of parliament in Cape Town this week. The epidemic of gender-based violence in our society is not something to be used to score political points (or to illustrate rhetorical techniques).
I watched an episode of the Netflix series The Crown this week which dealt with the saga over the proposed marriage of Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister Margaret, to Peter Townsend. The marriage never happened because it was opposed by both the church and parliament in England due to the fact that Townsend was a divorcee. The irony of the Prime Minister of the day, Sir Anthony Eden, also being a divorcee was not lost on the producers of the show :) This all took place in the mid-1950’s and it was interesting to see how societal and even church perspectives have shifted since this time.
A group of about fifteen of us are now halfway through the Disciple 3 course, which explores the Old Testament prophets and the letters of Paul over a 32 week period. This last Wednesday we covered the little Old Testament book of Jonah. Everybody knows the story of Jonah, the prophet who ran from the call of God and found himself reflecting on his disobedience inside the belly of a whale! We heard how this miraculous story serves to make the message of the book of Jonah memorable - the prophet’s message would never be remembered were it not for the whale!