Dear Table View Methodist Family,
I can't believe that it is almost Advent.
This coming Sunday, 26 November is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. The scripture reading, Matthew 25:31-46 is quite scary, the Son of Man, separates the people as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The basis of his separation will be how they treated strangers.
Those who were good will not know that they were good, and those who were bad will not know that they were bad.
They will just have been doing what came naturally... caring for one another, or failing to care for one another.
Care is defined as: Feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting the prisoner (Verses 35-36).
As we come to the end of the year and take stock of our spiritual growth (or shrink) one way to test whether we have grown closer to Christ is to ask ourselves:
Are we more compassionate?
Do we see Christ in the strangers who pass us by?
Have we grown in love?
And has this translated into practical action. Jesus measures us not just by our attitudes - but by our generosity. Did we take the trouble? Did we give up some clothes? Some food? Some time? To show love to others?
As I examine myself I'm not sure if I have grown in love. Life's experiences sometimes move us toward cynicism, we build up thicker skins, we retreat to safer spaces inside ourselves. We rush from appointment to appointment and commitment to commitment from crisis to crisis without paying attention to God's love for us or others.
But Jesus is always calling us to kindness; inviting us to openness. And when we receive his love we are transformed.
Don't give up. Learning to follow Christ is always an up and down journey. When we are confirmed we are asked:
Will you be open to the renewing power of God?
And even though I might not have grown as I had hoped - I do not give up on myself. God is at work in me, Paul testifies that the same power that raised Christ from death is at work in us (Ephesians 1:19-20). If God can take Christ's lifeless, tortured body and raise him to be seated at his right hand side. God can so much more easily take my hard heart and turn it into flesh.
So a new year begins - on 3 December we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. Hope. Love. Joy. Peace. The birth of Christ reminds us how God comes to meet us just as we are. Low standards. High expectations.
I look forward to worshipping with you at 8am, Iain Uys will lead at 930am and the Woman's Manyano Revival Service will be taking place at 11am.
Thank You Sunday - On 3 December we will celebrate communion and there will be baptisms and confirmations at some of the services. I will do my best to keep the sermons short so we can focus on giving thanks.
We also ask that you bring thanksgiving offerings to help our church break even into 2018.
Christmas Play and Farewell - On 10 December we will have a normal service at 8am, our combined Christmas Play will take place at 930am and at 11am there will be a farewell service for Iain Uys and Linda Mathutha as they make there way to Seth Mokitimi Seminary next year.
Rev Angus Kelly