Letter from Revd Andrew to the St Pauls Parish

Dear People of St Pauls

I greet you in Jesus’ name!

I write to you on this 7th day of lockdown.

During this time people respond in different ways: some welcome the break from their regular routine and are in a position to spend time on themselves and with their families; some continue to work in essential services; others experience increased loneliness or the loss of income through not being able to work.

For those who are vulnerable,  those who struggle with their health, including mental health, who live with disabilities and experience domestic violence, the lockdown becomes even more difficult.

Let us pray for one another, and reach out in love and care, especially to those most vulnerable. We are the Body of Christ – let us all play our part at this time, using the varying skills and capacity God has given us.

Some people wonder about what God may be saying to us through this pandemic and what our response should be. In the face of the increasing spread of the coronavirus and mounting deaths around the world the biblical tradition of lament is certainly an appropriate one: crying out to God for the suffering and  loss experienced; see, for example, the Book of Lamentations and various Psalms.

Hygiene and Social Distancing

As the health crisis in South Africa worsens we need to continue to practice hygiene and social distancing and to co-operate with the health department’s testing programme.  (The residents at Parkview, where we hold a monthly service, are being tested today).  At all times we need to seek clear and reliable information.

It seems like things will have changed forever.  As the world is reshaped our prayer is that its new shape would reflect more closely the reign (kingdom) of God on earth: greater kindness, generosity, sharing with justice, everyone respecting the image of God in one another, and that our social, political and especially economic structures will embody these values.

As people of faith we are sustained by our experience of God’s love and presence in our lives and in the world. We also draw strength and guidance from scripture and the insights and reflections of others. Various spiritual resources have been made available to us. The most comprehensive I have come across are the resources on the Anglican Alliance website . In this developing resource you will find here a wealth of resources, including theological reflections and suggestions for actions.  With his staff Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has been working at maintaining a Resource page.

Sustaining Community Life

As a means of sharing among us and helping sustain our community life,  I invite you to share any encouraging insights or creative contributions you may have during this time and we can place them on our website (and facebook page) for others to see.  Please send your contributions directly to me (warmback@dionatal.org.za).

(In future a regular newsletter – distributed through the various electronic means we have available and printed out for those who need it – will be helpful in maintaining contact with one another. I am aware that, under so-called normal circumstances not everyone is available to attend services but would value being connected to St Pauls in this way).

St Pauls’ YouTube Channel

Last Sunday I sent out a link to my sermon.  I appreciate the feedback from it.  I repeat the link here as this email is being sent in batches to a wider group within the parish.  For this coming Sunday our assistant priest, Revd Mduduzi Mathe, will record a sermon which we will distribute. Watch here.

Gathering the Youth

Yesterday I received from Neelano Sane, who, together with Mazithi Lukozi are the youth representatives on the newly elected Parish Council, the following request: “Good day Fr Andrew hope you are well. We are trying to gather the youth and we would greatly appreciate your help. We are trying to form a WhatsApp group for the youth and we would like your help in spreading the message to the various platforms/groups/guilds or even individuals within the church so that we may be able to reach as many young people as possible. We humbly appeal to all adults who have children or know of any young people who may be interested in joining the youth to please encourage them to do so. They can use the following link to join the group chat (https://chat.whatsapp.com/J8hG1GiBO5jFtDH1wlh051)  alternatively they can contact:  ~ Mazithi@ 073 502 6397 / ~ Neelano@ 076 952 6097.  Your help would be greatly appreciated, we look forward to hearing from the youth :-)”.  They are looking at Grade 10 and above, age-wise. We are grateful for this initiative.

New Virtual Volunteers Needed

Let us all think and pray how we may all serve God and one another in our church life.  New “volunteers” will be needed for the Finance Committee, the Property and Maintenance Committee and other areas of ministry and mission.  Pray where God may be leading you.

Finally, please pray for Natalie Damons and Devin (one of our lay ministers), as Natalie goes to hospital tomorrow for the birth of their first child.

“Now may the Lord of peace give you peace at all times in all ways.  The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

With my prayers for you all.

Yours in Christ

Andrew Warmback

Rector: St Pauls, Durban