Dear Family of St John’s

My eldest son is moving out. He is leaving home. He is leaving Port Elizabeth (or Gqeberha, if you prefer), he is leaving the Eastern Cape. In fact, he is moving 1029km away to the North West Province. He’s moving to Potchefstroom, to be exact.

And, I am quite fine with him moving. Really, I am. I promise. I just have a few little niggles, nothing big enough to call a concern.

You see, this is my son who eats oranges in the shower because they’re too messy. I’ve written about that. This is my son who has watched sausages burn because he wasn’t given an instruction to turn them, or take them out of the oven. I wrote about that too. And this is my son who will be living on his own and fending for himself.

I have no doubt that he is capable, he’s very bright actually. But some common-sense things just never occur to him. I guess he’ll learn, we all do.

I’m trying very hard not to give instruction or directions, but ask his opinion and see whether he’s considered all the options. For example, with regards to cleaning. I asked him if he had considered whether he would wash his windows… desperately hoping this was high on the list of his priorities!

He replied that he’d probably wash them when he couldn’t see out of them. Very reassuring. I gave no judgemental response. I simply asked how he would tackle cleaning the windows in his bedroom, since he’s on the 3rd floor in a block of flats and there’s no balcony area outside his bedroom window.

He considered this for a moment, and said that it would probably be sensible to tie something around his ankles and anchor himself to the bed, in case he fell out. I’m sure he’s just trying to cause me anxiety. I merely said, “that sounds like a good idea”. I’m proud of my response. I think his housewarming gift might be a long squeegee!

Anyway, these conversations have occupied my family life over the last month or so. And now, the big move is upon us. I will be driving up to Potchefstroom with him on Easter Monday and spending the week with him while he gets everything settled in his flat. Please understand, this is not because he needs me. I confess I am a slightly overinvolved mom.

He is taking great delight in telling me that while I am staying with him the principle of ‘My house, my rules!” applies. Apparently, he will also be ‘cooking’ all the meals, and I am to eat whatever is prepared. I’m not overly excited at the menu options.

His statement of ‘my house, my rules’ has me thinking though. I’m sure you’re familiar with the passage of scripture from Joshua 24:15 “‘…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’”

Joshua starts off Chapter 24 recounting everything the Lord has done all the way back to Abraham, and the way in which He has rescued His people over and over. Then he says, “‘Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshipped beyond the River Euphrates and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’” (vv14-15)

He’s saying, decide. You know everything that God has done for you. Cast aside all the other gods and worship the Lord. And the people cry out that they will.

But, Joshua’s not satisfied with that glib answer. He tells them that they can’t do it. All their actions point to the fact that they’re not able or ready to worship God. But, they insist that they choose to worship God. Joshua’s response is that they will be witnesses to their own decision.

So, what have we decided?

God has done so much more since the time of Joshua. We remember His greatest act of love this week in Jesus’ sacrificial death for our redemption. What have we decided to do? Do we serve God? What does that look like? Do our actions witness to the decision we have made to serve God?

We fall short all the time. It’s not always easy to tell the Christian apart from the non-believer because our behaviour is the same.

Why is it that, knowing everything that Jesus has done for us and His great love for us, we still follow our own rules? We like being the ruler on our own throne. We like the idea of being the boss. But that position is one we can only hold temporarily, and with limited success. At some point we need to make a decision. Will we follow God’s rules, wholeheartedly? A glib answer won’t do.

I encourage you to consider this decision, and what that looks like in your everyday life. Is it, ‘my house, my rules?’ Or, ‘God’s house, God’s rules?’

Consider again what Jesus’s death and resurrection mean for, and to you. Consider how you will respond.

With love

Your friend and rector,