Letter from Reverend Andrew to the People of St Paul’s 15 July 2021

Dear People of St Pauls

The Road to Rebuilding

I can really identify with the early disciples on the road to Emmaus recorded in Luke’s gospel 24: 13-35.  They were traumatised by Jesus’ horrific death in Jerusalem.  They were feeling helpless and hopeless. Their lives had been shattered.  They did not know what the future held.

Recent events in Durban and the country have left many people confused, angry, and worried about accessing food and other essentials, and fearful of the future. The loss of life and livelihoods continues. We know that the current crisis will have far reaching and long term impacts on us all.

There have been various calls for calm and reflections on the cause of this current crisis (see, for example, Tuesday’s reflection by Archbishop Thabo and the SACC statement also issued that same day,

On the road to Emmaus Jesus draws alongside the frightened disciples as they tried to make sense of what has happened. Later these disciples recognise who Jesus is in the breaking of the bread. This knowledge of Jesus’ presence gave  them confidence to continue Jesus’ work of announcing the Good News, binding up the broken hearted, setting people free and announcing a new ordering of society in the form according to the Jubilee principles (called “the year of God’s favour” in Luke 4:19).

We too are not alone.  God is with us now. Let us walk the road together, helping our neighbour, sharing what we have.  It’s encouraging to find people within the parish showing others where to buy bread, or sharing bread recipes, helping source nappies or medicines etc. Let us share information that may be helpful to one another. Every action like this helps restore our hope.

Our thanks to our Churchwarden, Keith Mbambo, who has been travelling about to assist parishioners with particular needs and to check on the church.  Thanks too to Revd Sabelo and our verger, Sizwe Nzama, who have assisted in ensuring the safety of our property, amidst the looting and the burning of some buildings in the area.

As we approach Mandela Day this Sunday we are all too aware that we have a long road to walk in creating a more just, fair and peaceful society.  Let us walk the road together, God being our helper.

Message from our Acting Vicar-General, Canon Bellina Mangena

The following letter was sent out yesterday evening as an encouragement to us:

Fellow Pilgrims

Christ is Lord/uKristu uyiNkosi!

Events of the past few days have placed our Province of KwaZulu Natal and the diocese at the epicentre of convulsions that have shaken our sense of who we are. We have experienced unprecedented orgy of looting that is likely to leave us with permanent scars. It has destroyed much needed infrastructure, with many losing their jobs, in a weak economy, communities’ access to healthcare disrupted, it has escalated tensions in some communities, putting at risk the safety and well-being of all, thus threatening the rise of internecine violence in communities. All of this is happening in the midst of the Corona Virus that is infecting people in thousands and killing families in large numbers. Right now, the reality is that we are all hurting, we are all bruised by what we are seeing and experiencing.

We often overlook the fact that we have more in common than differences.

I watched, as many of us did, the Brookside mall burning on TV this morning. More than the loss of dignity in a child carrying a suitcase and a elderly woman carrying a mattress, I was struck by the questions of, ‘whose mother is this that has to do this, whose child is this that has to carry such heavy stuff, what memories will they carry into their future? What conditions drive people to do such things?’ I have lived in Pietermaritzburg, I might have baptised one of those people. Our hearts should weep for what has happened, for those who have lost their lives and those who have lost their livelihoods. For us as the church, this is not just an existential crisis, it also reflects a deep-seated moral crisis for us all.

We are all in this together, none of us can judge and take sides. We are the community of faith, that community in the book of Acts that was in one heart and mind and lived in harmony and had social cohesion to the extent that others admired them, then, impressed by their example, joined them and so they grew in number. These current events reflect a nation in crisis. As church, we have a responsibility to strengthen the moral health of our communities or, as we used to sing in Sunday School, ’Brighten the corner where we are’. And this is the moment for us as a Diocese to stand – to be the light and the salt. We cannot be indifferent.

May we never lose hope. As Paul tells us in Romans 5:5, Hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. There is a future, I have used the crossing of the Red sea as my crutch throughout the pandemic assuring myself and everyone that the I AM of Moses is still the I AM even now. God is faithful and just. ‘Let us commit ourselves to following in the footsteps of Jesus – a way that leads to love and healing.’ That hope should sustain our resolve to work for healing and justice.

It is time that we, with boldness, storm the throne of grace, not just for our diocese or the communities we live in, but also for the nation. We need to engage in a collective prayer of lament. While we all pray individually all the time, we invite you, as the diocesan family to an afternoon of prayer on 25th July, for the whole diocese for what we are going through. Details of the afternoon are being worked on and it is my hope that it will not be a sporadic episode but that we will continue to hold such prayers in our archdeaconries, parishes and other small groupings. This will be part of our expression of our commitment to pray and work for a just nation, even long after the cameras are gone. We need to pray without ceasing for guidance and strength in working for a healthy society that affirms the dignity of all people.

Let us always bear in mind that we are an Easter People living in a Good Friday. This too, shall come to pass. Thandazani ningayeki, nihlale emoyeni.

Alternate Churchwarden

Sne Vilakazi has been elected Alternate Churchwarden by the Parish Council until the next Vestry Meeting.   A member of the AWF, Sne previously served on our Finance Committee and currently serves on the Property and Maintenance Committee.  We welcome Sne to our leadership team.

Sinazo Mchina has been co-opted onto Parish Council as a youth rep to replace Mazithi Lukhosi who resigned and moved to study in Johannesburg earlier this year.

Conclusion

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isiah 41:10