Sunday 3 October 2021. Sermon by Revd Andrew Warmback.

Services are this Sunday at 7.30am and 9.15am. Mask wearing, sanitising and social distancing are essential. Temperatures and tracing details of those attending will be taken.

The full Service Slides, including the hymns, notices and prayers for this Sunday, may be found on our website . Included is a presentation on Covid and vaccines by Sinazo Mchiza.

A video regarding vaccination (and the text of it), received from the Archbishop’s COVID advisory team .

Sermon by Revd Andrew Warmback

On this Sunday nearest St Francis Day, which is tomorrow, some churches include the blessing of animals in their services.  I heard that the cathedral in New York, St John’s, has an elephant that comes up for a blessing together with other animals and pets.

This kind of service is a recognition that our concern for the environment must be broad, including the needs for animals to be protected and cared for and their rights respected.

In approaching stewardship churches traditionally focus on the need to be sustainable and so focus mostly on money.  I am saying that stewardship should be seen in broad perspective to. Let us talk about the “stewardship of our lives”, of all we are and all we have.

In the gospel reading for today Jesus again calls attention to the value of us being like children, of childlike faith and trust.  It is this childlike attitude that can most easily lead to giving and generosity.

In our approach to what we have and our giving we can either focus on the needs we have and on what we don’t have.  Or, we can concentrate on what we do have, the various “assets” we have.

The assets we have among us include money, but they also include our gifts and talents as well as other things like our health and wellbeing, and our relationships. Of course there is our faith too.

In the season of stewardship we invite people to indicate the money, time, and talents we offer to God through St Pauls.  We all have something to offer.

Yesterday, Revd Sabelo was leading our Mothers’ Union retreat.  In giving his input on prayer he emphasised the need to be grateful. We were all challenged to list what we are thankful, what we have, as we reflect on our lives.

It is this spirit of gratitude, knowing we have been blessed by God, and becoming aware of the grace of God in our lives that enables us to give.

In our service today we have heard of two people, who had a lot and then had virtually nothing, but still kept a spirit of gratitude. Firstly, St Francis.  When he was growing up he was a relatively wealthy person, and liked to drink and party.  Later, when he heard the call from God to rebuild the church, he gave up everything. Yet he was able to live joyfully.  He did not need many things, but gave his all to fulfil the mission that God had called him to.

Our Old Testament reading was from Job. At the beginning of the book of Job we read that we was a very wealthy farmer, with thousands of livestock and a large family.  We know his story – he later loses almost everything, livestock, family and health.  But that does not cause him to turn from God.  In his great suffering he continues to trust God, saying, later,“I know that my redeemer lives.”

In these Covid times with loses we have experienced – perhaps in possessions, income, in mental health – may be have the perseverance and strength to continue to cultivate a prayerful life of gratitude and trust in God.

This past week, in some interactions I had with people, I was made aware that there are some prior steps we may need to take before we can be active stewards of our lives.  Some of us may have moved away from the church, or never really been connected with it.  We may have done things that we are ashamed of, and God feels far from us.

This month of stewardship provides with an opportunity to grown in an understanding of God’s love for us and our response of commitment to God. As Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who celebrates his 90th birthday this week, once said the love of God is like a heater.  Its emitting of heat does not depend on us, who we are or what we are like; it warms us irrespective of our life circumstances.

The mission and ministry of St Pauls is made possible through your generosity.  This month we provide the opportunity for you to recommit or to commit yourself for the first time to give regularly through the planned giving scheme or through the collection box.  We also provide opportunities in which you can serve God and one another through the various ministries, guilds and groups within the parish.

We all have much to offer.

Amen

During this difficult time of the global pandemic, 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