Sunday 11 December 2022. Sermon Revd Dr Andrew Warmback.

Liturgy for Services: The full Service Slides, including the hymns, readings, prayers, other liturgy and notices may be found on our website.

NOTICES

Cell: 081 240 0964

031 305 4666

Planned Giving forms

The forms are available at the desk. We encourage everyone to be on the Planned Giving Scheme.

Advanced Notices:

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.

Diocesan Office Closure:

From 19 December to 2 January

Service at TAFTA Lodge:

This final service for the year will take place on Tuesday 13th at 9.30.

Memorial Service for Gifford Sparks:

On Thursday 15th December at 10.00 at Parkview.

Diocesan Conference of iViyo loFakazi bakaKhristu:

This will take place at Nkanyezi Special School, Steadville, Ladysmith from the 15th to the 18th of December 2022.

The conference will begin with a Eucharist service at 17h00 on Thursday next week.

AWF:

The AWF will be attending a Eucharist service at St Barnabas in Chesterville, as part of the Ethekwini Central to mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

Lectionaries for sale:

These are available at services and from the parish office at R35 each.

Vestry Reports:

These are to be submitted to the parish office by 15 December.

Soup Kitchen Christmas Party:

This will be held on 14 December

Day of Reconciliation:

The office will be closed on Friday 16th

Rector on leave:

Tuesday to Thursday this week

Important dates for Guilds for 2023:

we ask all guilds to submit their plans/important dates for 2023 to the Church office for planning purposes.

Staff appreciation for December:

any form of donation in cash or kind to our dedicated church workers.

Thanks and appreciation

Staff Appreciation – Lethu (R200); Jimmy (R140); Anon (R100); Dudu Kumalo (R100); PC Member (R200)

Thanksgiving – Anon (R200) Mntambo Mqoqi (R1000)

Needs of the Church:

Flowers for Christmas Day.

Birthdays: 11 to 17 December

12 Jimmy Ssemafumu

13 Zinhle Bhengu

14 Lwandle Mqoqi, Tiyana Phillips

15 Nomini Kumalo, Molly Mpila

17 Doreen Wonduogel

Wedding anniversary 11 to 17 December

15 Mpumelelo & Sindi Mtshawu

Sermon by Revd Dr Andrew Warmback

Introduction

During Advent we have the growing realisation that another world is possible. Not in heaven but on earth, that God’s reign is coming, a world characterised by fairness, justice, harmony, sustainability and peace. In Advent, especially, we prepare for the realisation of this new world, this new vision of life that becomes a reality in Jesus’ birth.

As partners with God we prepare ourselves by being prepared to let go of the old to bring in the new. We start by becoming free ourselves.

Isaiah’s vision

The prophets of the Old Testament continually call the people back to God and criticise the way people are treated, especially those who are poor. They call for right and fair relationships between people – to sharing – this will lead to a reordering of society, and lead to the flourishing of all of life. Hear this vision of a new world from Isaiah in today’s reading:

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom;

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf shall be opened;

then the lame shall leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool

and the thirsty ground springs of water.(parts of Isaiah 35:1-10)

We see part of this vision realised in Jesus.

Our reality

These are hopeful signs. But the reality of our world is one of ongoing violence – in the form of Gender Based Violence (GBV), xenophobia, the war in Ukraine, the violent suppression of protesters in Iran, the increasingly devastating effects of climate change, repressive dictatorships in some countries, ongoing stories of corruption in our country, and so on.

We work with God

In Advent we have been preparing ourselves, drawing nearer to God through prayer, reflection, penitence, acts of compassion and listening.

We believe that God can use us to remake the world – to challenge the violence and exploitation – to bring healing where there is brokenness, restore people’s dignity. This can start with small acts of kindness.

John the Baptist and Jesus

The lives of both John the Baptist and Jesus guide us further in making a positive contribution to the world, starting with our own lives.

There are some similarities between these two people. They both lived on the edges of society – John, literally, in the desert and Jesus moved from place to place and home to home.

They also had time for silence – John seemed to live a relatively solitary life and Jesus who would take time out from the crowds to be alone to pray.

Most importantly though they both lived freely and lightly – John dressed simply and eat locusts and honey, and Jesus moved about without being weighed down by things and commitments.

Letting Go

This leads me to an important Advent discipline – that of letting go – a practice that we can continue beyond advent too.

Jesus expected from those who follow him complete detachment. His followers had to be willing to drop their nets, leave their boats and homes and families, perhaps not permanently but for long periods of time when they would preach in villages. Also they had to travel lightly when on the road – remember the instructions Jesus gave of taking no money, bag, possessions, or extra clothes.

It is not just things that they needed to let go of, but their reputations too; for Jesus says, “rejoice when people hate you and exclude you and defame you.” To be truly following Jesus and open to be used by God Jesus’ followers are even to let go of their lives: Jesus says those who want to save their life will lose it.

Detachment brings inner freedom

The thing about detachment is that it brings freedom, inner freedom. It enables us to love others more fully, to share, to see beyond our own needs. When we cling to things, people, places, reputations, our image, our profession, we can feel enslaved to them and it makes it more difficult for us to respond to other people and their needs.

Money and possessions are not a problem in themselves – we are to enjoy life and the good things in life – but we are also to respond generously and spontaneously to the needs of others.

We may be committed to certain ideas or practices but our Christian commitment should not prevent us from being open minded, of being open to new ideas and practices.

Conclusion

I like a phrase we used some time back: “never underestimate what God can do in us and through us.” God sets before us the vision of a world remade and calls us to be partners in bringing it into being.

Let us free ourselves of own agendas and take on the work of Jesus that is to bring full and abundant life to all the world, confronting injustice and bringing healing. Becoming truly free takes discipline and time.

May we in these next couple of weeks take time to assess our lives and ask ourselves what is holding us back from being truly free and giving ourselves fully in following the way of Jesus.

 

Contacts

Rector

Revd Dr Andrew Warmback

083 693 6745

Asst. Priest

Rev Bruce Woolley

079 544 7566

Church Wardens

Dr. Egerton Hingston

073 080 4113

Mrs. Yolisa Mapasa

082 435 8170

Alternate Church Warden

Mr. Bheki Shabalala

082 086 9548

Church Treasurer

Mr. Lethu Mkhize

082 053 9004

E-mail: paulsdbn@mweb.co.za

Website: www.stpaulsdurban.org.za

Facebook: @stpdbn

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Twitter:@StPaulsDbn

 

Giving: You are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account:    Account Name: St Paul’s  Church        Account Number: 50854628623       Bank: First National Bank (FNB)       Branch Code: 221426