Greetings in Jesus’ name in this Season after Pentecost!
In what has become a weekly letter I write to share information both relating to us as a parish as well as the Diocese and further afield. In this time of lockdown it is important that we remain connected.
At the end I share the latest letter from the Dean/Vicar-General in which he again writes about the delay in churches reopening for services and offers words of encouragement for us all. Please pray for Dean Ndabezinhle Sibisi, a former rector of our parish, in his position of leadership as Vicar General.
We continue to give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrated at Pentecost this last Sunday. We draw on the Spirit’s power, inspiration and wisdom in these times. This Sunday is Trinity Sunday and we use the following
God of unchangeable power,
you have revealed yourself to us as
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
keep us firm in this faith
that we may praise and bless your holy name,
for you are one God,
living and reigning in glory
now and for ever.
From the Archbishop: George Floyd
Many have been shocked by the killing of George Floyd. We are reminded of the systemic racism both in the United States, as well as in other parts of the world, and including in our own country. On Tuesday this week our Archbishop issued the following statement:
“The killing of George Floyd shocks South Africans too” Many of us in South Africa have been shocked by the death by homicide of George Floyd, when a policeman crushed his neck with a knee for more than eight minutes in Minneapolis last week.
George Floyd’s killing flies in the face of the solidarity evident in the world’s response to the pandemic, and we condemn the brutal treatment he was subjected to.
As we heard those words of desperation, “I cannot breathe”, we mourned for the loss of all life at this time, through violence everywhere and in the COVID-19 pandemic. May Mr Floyd rest in peace.” (Issued by Archbishop on 2 June 2020)
World Environment Day
Tomorrow, 5 June, is World Environment day. The theme for this year is “Time for Nature.” There are various resources on the Green Anglicans website that one can access to help celebrate this day and to pray for God’s world.
Prayers for those who are not well:
Portia Nodangala – Portia is off the critical list and is stable; however the orthopaedic injuries she sustained in the car accident in her legs, ankles, arms and wrists will take a long time to heal. Please continue to pray for Portia and her family, for God’s healing. If you would like to send a message to Portia please send it to 072 613 7104 and it will be passed on to her.
Our member, Blair Phillip, who works as a nurse, has tested positive for Covid-19. Please pray for her and those in her household at Church House. She will go for another test this week.
“Perspectives on the Pandemic – This week Mpumelelo Mtshawu continues our series on “Perspectives on the pandemic,” with a contribution entitled “Post Pentecost words of encouragement.” It may be found on our website .
Corpus Christi: Next Thursday the Archdeaconry Corpus Christi service (in which we celebrate Christ’s institution of the Eucharist) will be hosted by St Aidans (and includes a reader from St Pauls). It will include a Eucharist. It will be available from 18.30 – we will give you the link to it.
I conclude with a blessing from the Green Anglican’s World Environment Day liturgy:
God loves justice and right and fills the earth with love.
May God bless you with a passion for justice and a love of creation.
Jesus promises to be with us to the end of time.
May God bless you with the eyes to see and the ears to hear the Word of God in your environment.
The Spirit unites us as children of God.
May God bless you with reverence for all creation.
May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Yours in Christ
Revd Dr Andrew Warmback
Rector: St Pauls, Durban
LETTER FROM THE DEAN/VICAR-GENERAL
3rd June 2020
A MESSAGE OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND UNITY TO THE NATAL DIOCESAN FAMILY
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans1:7b).
- WE ARE NOT OPENING OUR CHURCHES YET
At a recent meeting of Chapter the corporate and prayerful wisdom of the Archdeacons discerned that it is too early to open our churches. This is probably a disappointment to many, but many factors were borne in mind as we considered this important issue, including:
(a) Saving lives and ensuring the good health of all was the first goal. Every single life is honoured and precious to our God and to us. We do not want to lose lives or cause illness because of negligence or recklessness.
(b) We are entering the winter season when the COVID virus appears to be most virulent.
(c) We are in line with 10 other Dioceses in ACSA who have prayerfully made the same decision.
(d) Bishop Michael has supported this decision in the following words: “I am very grateful for the wisdom and common sense of this decision by the Vicar General and Chapter of the Diocese.”
Our celebration of the great Pentecost feast was different (and perhaps lonely) this year and many have struggled to understand the absence of church gatherings in our buildings. We are, however, reminded by the season that the Holy Spirit is never under lockdown and the challenge for Christians is to discern the power and energy of the Spirit in our homes, families, friends, hearts (and even our phones can help). Remember that the first Pentecost took place amidst bewilderment, hostility and grief and yet it was the powerhouse from which the message of the risen Christ spread down 20 centuries.
We often find patience difficult but we do not have to do it alone. Gal 5: 22-25 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit includes patience and ‘if we live by the Spirit let us also be guided by the Spirit’
(a) A season of waiting calls for patience to interrogate our faith, to re-think many assumptions like the difference between going to church and being the church. We are encouraged to move from fear which can cause negligence to a spirit of understanding and care.
(b) So often Jesus modelled patience? He prepared for his ministry for 30 years! And, after the resurrection, he advised the disciples to be patient and wait for him in Galilee (Mt 28:6). What a difficult task for them but what rewards!
(c) We are invited to use this time of waiting patiently, prayerfully and creatively!. In the mysteries of our God this period of discovery will invigorate and renew our faith. And never forget the power of prayer which the Spirit will always honour and guide (Romans 8:26-7).
It is essential for us all to work together in unity in maintaining our church life and finding new ways of being the Church. Our leaders in Chapter have taken this corporate and prayerful decision under the guidance of the Spirit. We look forward to a time when they can steer the ship into calmer waters. Please do not disregard their wishes. Not only could that put lives at risk but it would disturb the spirit of unity that Jesus prays for so earnestly in John 17:11. May we co-operate with the wisdom of our Archdeacons, and not depart from their guidance.
GRATITUDE AND ANTICIPATION
We are so grateful to all the faithful clergy and ministers who are keeping the home fires burning and providing ministry while still observing the rules of lockdown and social distancing. Thank you! Please share with us and each other any special and rich experiences of the Spirit that touch you during this difficult time, both personal and at parish level. Remain strong, courageous and co-operate with the wisdom of our Chapter. Do continue your wonderful work of obedience, prayer and service.
On Monday 1 June our Lectionary continuous readings pointed us to 2 Peter 1 which offers superb advice for a time of bewilderment and uncertainty.
“…Make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
May the Holy Spirit be our guide and support as we go forward in faith and in partnership with our Church leadership. And let us look forward to a time when we can gather together again. The first service in each parish will be a time of glorious celebration and thanksgiving that we will remember for life.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
(1 Corinthians 16:23-24).
Yours in Christ