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Sermon by Revd Dr Andrew Warmback (Luke 21: 5-19, Isaiah 65:17-25)
Life is a struggle. Jesus himself acknowledges in today’s gospel reading that life is not easy, that there will be various difficulties ahead – he refers to persecutions, betrayals, arrests etc.
We too live with trauma, or in some cases multiple traumas – often from different forms of violence. We desperately long for hope for something better, to aid our healing. How can we become people of hope?
Advent Sunday is in two weeks’ time. Advent is a time of preparation and waiting, and above all one of expectant hope. We hope for renewal, for a new start. We want our new year to be different, to be one that gives us greater inner peace and also one that sees the spreading of peace in our word.
We find hope in God, in our biblical traditions – in the story of the Israelites, and in ourselves.
Who remembers the start of lockdown in March 2020? There was a sense of uncertainty about the future, which led to despair and fear.
On the first Sunday after lockdown the Old Testament reading was about the “Valley of the Dry Bones” from Ezekiel chapter 37: 1-14. I quote from my sermon on that Sunday; the dry bones are the Israelites, and they are a people who have lost hope.
The background is that the prophet Ezekiel is speaking to a traumatised people, a people who have faced devastating losses. In 587/586 BCE, the Israelites had been attacked by the Babylonians: during the siege they suffered
famine and disease, and lost hope. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed, the Temple flattened to the ground, many of the people killed and others forced to go into exile in Babylon.
For them the exile was more than just a crisis of physical suffering; it was a crisis of faith too: the key symbols of their faith – especially the Temple and the Davidic monarchy – had been destroyed. With such a catastrophe they
may have wondered if God was still faithful to them.
We then read of the promise of God to them, in verse 14: “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil.”
A wonderful promise of God to a suffering people: they will survive, they will return from exile; their hope is restored, so too is their faith in God. The God of life is to be trusted. [end of quote]
Return from Exile
It is into this context that God speaks words of hope. God promises a new heaven and a new earth – the former things will not be remembered and, I quote parts of the reading:
No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days or an old person who does not live out a lifetime…. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not labour in
vain or bear children for calamity….Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together.
Certainly a vision of fruitfulness and prosperity, not of personal prosperity but communal harmony and peace.
Isaiah presents a vision of what life should be like, a land without violence and destruction, co-existence, empathy, a place where people speak and are heard, where fear will be overcome – in short where the ways of their oppressors are not adopted.
The story of the struggle of the Israelites illustrates how hope is restored though the prospect of something new.
God gives us hope; but hope is also in our hands. We can work at hope, at generating hope.
This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday, when we remember those who died in wars. The more we experience the trauma caused by war and violence the more we realise that further violence is not the way to bring about peace.
A few months ago our Natal Synod passed a resolution entitled “Becoming a Church that ‘pursues the things that make for peace’.” For me it offered a fresh initiative by which we could work for justice and peace and so rebuild hope in our communities.
I refer to some parts of it. In the introduction there was the recognition that in our country “we have a history of injustice and oppression which has produced high levels of violence”; that “this violence expresses itself in various forms, such as Gender Based Violence, violent crime, political violence, and irreversible environmental destruction”; and that “violence is embedded in the very structures of the economic and social systems.”
It acknowledged that “there are alternatives to violence”; that “violence can be responded to with non-violence”; and that “non-violent responses to injustice and conflict can be learnt.”
The resolution called on the bishop to “facilitate the development of resources and the provision of training in non-violence and peace-building, including for the youth” and “weave practices of justice and peace into all aspects of our church life, including liturgy, spiritual formation and our witness to the world.”
May we become people of hope, those that inspire hope in others. We don’t have to accept situations of injustice, discrimination, oppression and violence. We can demonstrate alternatives, starting with ourselves and our church. Jesus showed us the way of respecting difference, of challenging hypocrisy and falseness, of loving and
As we anticipate Advent let us prepare ourselves. How will we use Advent to make a difference in our own spiritual lives and in the life of the community? What disciplines, what practices or habits will we commit ourselves to engage in that will bring hope to ourselves and others. Lets make this Advent count as we prepare for
the birth of the Prince of Peace
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Stewardship Forms: Thank you to all who have handed in their forms. If you have not yet had an opportunity to do so, please return them as soon as possible.
Parish Council: Next meeting on 13 November.
MU Bible Study: Thursday 17th at 9.30.
Parish Council: Today after 9:15 am service
Saturday 19 November: Wedding of Vicent Mbonye and Gloria Ishimwe.
Midweek Services: Our Wednesday lunch and Friday morning services will stop at the end of November and resume again in mid January
Our Rector’s farewell: The farewell service for the Rector is next Sunday 20 November 2022. There will be only one service at 8:30 am.
As we bid farewell to our Rector, Oneness is The Greatness. A gesture of any form would be greatly appreciated, as to make this day a joyful success.
Our Thanksgiving/Ukubonga focus will be on Sunday 27 November.
25 November to 10 December: 16 Days of Activism against Violence on Women and Children
Diocesan Council meeting: on Saturday 26 November at the Cathedral, 9.00 Monthly Church Men’s Society Walk: Saturday 3 December. All are welcome.
The focus will be on Gender Based Violence. T-Shirts will be produced for the event. Please order through our parish office.
Diocesan Ordination: This will take place on 10 December. Please pray for the candidates to be ordained.
After a two year break, we will again hold a Christmas Eve service, starting at 10.30.p.m.
Our New Year’s Eve service is at 6pm.
Children’s Christmas Party – for all children in the parish on Saturday 26 November at 12:00 noon
Thanks and appreciation
Dolly Ndlovu – 2 boxes of biscuits
Mandla Hlatshwayo – R100 towards flowers in Thanksgiving for his birthday
Akhona Magwentshu – 2 bottles of communion wine
Jabu Soni – Coffee, sugar and tea bags
Vicent Mbonye and Gloria Ishimwe– R3,000 towards soup kitchen
Dolores Padayache – R500 towards Fete
Timothy Nsereko – R500 for flowers in memory of his wife, Fundiswa
Thanks to all who made donations towards the All Saints/Souls day in memory of their loved ones. A comprehensive list of all donations made would be provided next week.
Needs of the church
Donations towards the Flower Ministry
Charcoal, Incense, Priest Wafers, People Wafers
Items for soup kitchen
A4 Papers, cleaning products (toilet paper, garbage bags, dishing washing liquid, handy andy, bleach, jik, furniture polish, window cleaner, wax polish for floor)
Birthdays – 13 – 19 November
15 Mzuvukile Mtolo
17 Joyce Kingham, Marlene Brown, Mukelani Dlamini
Wedding anniversary – 13 – 19 November
15 Terrence and Serita Pillay
Revd Dr Andrew Warmback 083 693 6745
Asst. Priest Rev Bruce Woolley 079 544 7566
Dr. Egerton Hingston 073 080 4113
Mrs. Yolisa Mapasa 082 435 8170
Alternate Church Warden
Mr. Bheki Shabalala 082 086 9548
Mr. Lethu Mkhize 082 053 9004