Dear Family of St John’s

The last few weeks have been cold, seriously cold.  The kind of cold where I want to put on my pyjamas, dressing gown and sheepskin slippers and cuddle up on the couch under a fleecy blanket while the wind howls and the rain buckets down outside.  It’s been cold enough that I was motivated to whip up a batch of gluhwein last weekend.  Nothing warms you up quite like a lovely glass of gluhwein!

Although, I must say I was very grateful for our coastal climate when chatting to my eldest son earlier in the week.  He told me that Potchefstroom had hit a low of 1°C.  And, he’d cycled to varsity at the crack of dawn in that temperature.  This is one of those times when I question how we are even related.

When the weather is chilly, we want to hunker down, hibernate.  We want to stay where it’s warm and comfortable, safe from the wind and freezing temperatures.  And, sometimes we’re like that in our faith journey too.

This past Wednesday was our last week in our 5-week study from Acts.  We have looked specifically at Acts 2: 42-47 over the last five weeks. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

These verses tell us the story of the Early Church.  They tell us how they lived out their faith daily.  It was fairly simple.  They learned about God, they met for fellowship with other believers, they shared in the eucharist together, and they prayed together.  And the result of this? ‘The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’

We can easily become so inward focused – cuddled up on our warm couch where we’re cosy and comfortable – and forget about, or try to ignore, the world outside.  Perhaps the world outside feels so big that it seems overwhelming.  The needs are so great that we don’t know where to start.  Or, we pass the buck and say, ‘That’s the job of the priest and the church.’  

It certainly is the job of the priest and the church to look to the needs of the world and mission.  But each one of us is part of the church. Therefore, it’s our individual job too.  

One of the questions from this week’s study was, ‘How can a small group become mission-minded?’

I’d like to challenge you to consider this question.  We each belong to a small group of some sort.  That might be a Bible Study group, or perhaps a Book Club, the group you walk with in the mornings, the group you meet up with for coffee. Have you considered that each family is also a small group?

What if each of the small groups we belonged to decided to look outward a little?  What if we chose to become mission-minded?  This might mean adopting a project together, perhaps knitting beanies for babies.  Or, it could mean ‘adopting’ a particular missionary and taking a specific interest in supporting them in prayer.  It could mean that you invite others into your group who need the fellowship and support you can offer.

It would mean getting up off the comfy couch, and stepping outside, even if the weather is a little chilly. If we truly did that, and practised our faith like the Early Church… the Lord would add to our number daily those who were being saved.

Help us, with simple words,
to explain the warmth
within our hearts
that we experienced
in that first encounter
with your love and grace –
the Spirit’s flame,
still burning bright within –
that others, in their own
journeys of discovery
might reach out and touch
the hand that’s always there,
and be embraced by love.
You call us to leave all things,
you who had nothing.
You call us to be servants,
you who came to serve.
You call us to share the load,
you who carried our sin.
You call us to speak your word,
you who lived it daily.
You call us to be followers,
and in your strength, we will.
(John Birch)

With love

Your friend and rector,