Monday, 30 June 2014

Feedback: Family-focused Evening Service

Hi, Everyone

We had a wonderful turn-out at our first Family-focused Evening Service on Sunday 8 June 2014. I received a number of very positive comments from people at the door, and some warm smiles from some of the younger people present.

We did some reflection at our Church Council meeting last week, with various thoughts being expressed. One comment was that it was not that different from Sunday Mornings and it may be difficult to sustain our teenagers interest in the medium to long-term. Another comment reflected that our initial stated aim was to provide an opportunity for families with teenagers and young adults to have an opportunity on occasion to worship together, rather than a full-on Youth-focused event.

The initial thought had been to develop this event aware that there is an established group of people who enjoy the present less-formal format of our evening services, and that the informality may be a more conducive environment for drawing younger members of our community into worship. I am also aware that what we put in place needs to be sustainable in terms of our resources and worship skills, and congruent with who we are. 

Feed-back from the wider St Andrew's community will be appreciated. If you are a family that attended, or perhaps have had a conversation with someone who was there, please let me have your thoughts and input towards our next service. Perhaps you were not able to be present, but have some insight? Please share!Due to School holidays in July our next Family-focused Evening Service will take place on Sunday 10 August 2014 at 18:30 - see you there!

Blessings
Mark

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Curry Supper 2014

Dear Friends

A reminder that we meet for CURRY on Friday! Our Annual Curry Supper makes a return this Friday, 27 June 2014, 18:00 for 18:30. Beryl and the Team are busy, and we are assured of lovely food for the evening. The quality of the fellowship is, of course, up to us! And the more the merrier!

So if you haven't yet bought a ticket, but are planning to come along, please take a moment to let the Office know, preferably by lunch-time on Wednesday (tomorrow) so that we can ensure we cater sufficiently for the evening. This can be done by email office@standrewsnewlands.org.za, phone 021 674 3851, or in person.

If you are aware of anyone who may not be coming due to financial stresses, please let us know so that we can make a plan for them. The emphasis is on being St Andrew's Family together, and we would really like the evening to be as inclusive as possible.

There will be liquid refreshment, but you are welcome to bring your own favourite along, too. "Corkage" will be exercised by the Rector...

Blessings
Mark

Friday, 13 June 2014

Winter Newsletter 2014: Article

Dear Friends

Appointed and Sent

Today, as I write, we remember St Barnabas. The Gospel reading for the day reminds us that God has "... appointed [us] to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last" (John 20:16). In this Pentecost season we are reminded of the nature of this fruit: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). In preparation for Pentecost I became aware, in the Lectionary's immersion of us in John's Gospel, that for John everything revolves around the gift of love: it is the touchstone from which all else evolves. In linking this to Paul's teaching in Galatians, it is possible to realise that love becomes tangible as we allow the other fruits of the Spirit to grow in our lives. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all instruments through which God's love may flow into our lives and communities. It becomes even more powerful when we remember that John goes further: "... God is love" (1 John 4:8). It is not just God's love, but God's very being, that is manifested in this way.

On Pentecost Sunday we were reminded that on the evening of the resurrection the risen Jesus meets with the disciples, saying, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). This begs the question, of course, as to what it is that Jesus had been commissioned to do? Again for John it is all about love: Jesus was sent by the Father to live God's love, God's very being, in our world; and we are similarly called. Richard Rohr, in his book The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, makes this same point: "Jesus became the Human One who believed the divine image in himself, who trusted it, followed it, and told us to do the same" (page 48). This begs a further question: what is the nature of the divine image? Key to this is that having commissioned the disciples Jesus "... breathed [into] them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit"" (John 20:22). The Holy Spirit is the divine image and the source of life: present at Creation; active throughout the millennia; present in Jesus; and as we participate in the body of Christ and the wider family of God, present in you and me.

It becomes possible to draw this conclusion: we are appointed to participate in a mission; we are commissioned to bring a vision to fruition. Are we, personally and corporately, aware? What do we understand our appointment and commission to be, to encompass? What are we being sent to do? And if we are aware, are we being faithful to our appointment and obedient to our commission?

Mission and Vision

At St Andrew's we do have a strong sense of purpose, enshrined in our mission statement:

St Andrew's aims to be a loving, worshipping, Christian community which encourages everyone to follow Christ as disciples through being obedient to his Word and Spirit, and as a result taking God's love to the local community, to the poor, the needy and the world.

We are committed to seeing this statement move from words into action, and it drives our commitment to reach out beyond ourselves in good and meaningful ways, chief among them our Ministry to the Needy. Additionally, I was encouraged by the attendance at the Lent course, which spoke to our commitment to follow Christ as disciples (people committed to growing in their faith). We worship well, we care, and we share God's love. This is a hallmark of who we are as Andreans.

Being obedient to Christ in Word and Spirit is to be continually immersing ourselves in Scripture, searching out the principles that have given life to God's people throughout the ages and seeking ways to make these live in our own context; it is also to be listening for what God is doing in the world today, to be aware of the Spirit's presence in the currents flowing around us, being ready to respond as we hear the call to serve.

We have lived at St Andrew's with our mission statement for some time, and time changes things. The foundation of our mission - Scripture - remains constant, although interpretation may adapt to our ongoing experience. The foundation of our vision - context - is less constant, making it important that we review both our sense of mission and vision from time to time. It is important that we find time to review where we are heading as a community, to ascertain how faithful we are being to that to which God calls us, and to make any necessary course corrections. Parish Council has agreed that we consciously take time as a Christian community to reflect again on who God is calling us to be, what God is calling us to do, and where God is calling us to go. This process will include such further questions as: what is intrinsic to who we are at St Andrew's that we never want to lose; what new things do we want to put in place that will add to our sense of being abundantly where God wants us to be; what do we need to stop doing, get rid of, in order that we may have space to build for the future; and what are those things that may destroy who we are, destroy the legacy that has been built in our midst over a century and more, and that we wish never to include in our activities and community?

It is likely that we will engage as a Church in this process of consultation, reflection and review after the July holidays. In the meantime please, in preparation, begin to engage prayerfully and thoughtfully with the questions I have raised above.

Personal

Thank you from Dawn and myself to all who contributed so generously to our Easter gift. It has contributed to one of my dreams: a mountain bike with which I can confidently tackle the off-road beauty of the Cape. Scotty, a black and red Scott Spark 960, has recently joined the family. It is going to need some training, as I discovered on my second ride out that it has a tendency to run away on muddy downhills, buck wildly on steep uphill paths, and generally not always behave as expected. Tar surfaced roads do seem to have a largely calming effect on us both, but the great outdoors beckons, and we will doubtless train each other as time goes on!

Blessings to you all as we enter the cold and wet of Winter, which has already given fair warning of things to come: may the fire of this Pentecost season be warming to your souls!

With love
Mark

Monday, 2 June 2014

Family Focus: An Invitation

Dear Friends

What defines family? A traditional image is often "Mum, Dad, and the Kids". But family is more than this, and less. A single person is a family of one; some families are child-headed; others are single-parented; same-sex couples adopt children; death and divorce bring pain and chaos; new relationships bring renewed joy and hope.Tradition and new ways of being family all need to inform our picture and definition of family life. Family is less about the individuals that make up family and more about the relationships that build family. And so when we speak of "family-focus" we need to encourage each other to be as broad and embracing as possible of family life in all its variety.

Having said the above, we are aware at St Andrew's that we do not cater well for teenagers and young adults, and that there are families who feel somewhat torn as their teenagers in particular are drawn away to Churches that are more youth-focused, perhaps offering more trendy and exciting options for worship and fellowship; or who no longer enjoy our more traditional form of worship, and would rather just stay at home.

One option that we are exploring is to invite families with teenagers and young adults to join us on the second Sunday of each month in the evening at our service at 18:30. This service is generally an informal form of Evening Prayer with guitars and music from Songs of Fellowship. Of course, though, while we seek to be intentional about offering families with young people an opportunity for worshiping together, the service remains open to all who already participate on a Sunday evening, and to all forms of family!

In light of the above I write to invite you to join us on Pentecost Sunday, 8 June 2014 at 18:30, for a Family-focused Service of Evening Prayer.

Blessings
Mark