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Pastoral Note - 28 Jan 2016

Hi Table View Methodist Family,

This Sunday we reflect on the story of Abraham.  Iain will be preaching and I (Angus) will be leading worship.

Every human being has 'foundational stories' these are the ideas, experiences, belief systems on which you base your life decisions.  Some of these stories produce damaging results. For example; in South Africa many of us were raised to believe in racism.  When a damaging story takes root in our imaginations it is nearly impossible for it to be removed.  Our minds are lazy; they don't like to learn new things; so we accept everything that affirms our 'foundational story' and reject everything that challenges it.
Maintaining healthy 'foundational stories' is very important.  We need to examine the stories that we live by in order to remove them and replace them with God's story for us.  Like the Psalmist prays: 

'Who can detect their errors?  Clear me from hidden faults.'
- Psalm 19:12
Last week we began reading through the Bible from the book of Genesis.  The first 11 chapters of Genesis are what some Bible Scholars call 'Primeval History', a history of origins.  This week we begin to explore the story of Abraham - the founding father of Judaism.  Abraham lived in Ur (modern day Iraq) and heard God calling him to: "Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you..." - Genesis 12:1
In choosing to be obedient to God's call Abraham allows God to start narrating his story, the story of a new nation, whose task it will be to reveal God's living legacy of love to the world.  One of the ways in which God reveals his love is by inspiring new stories - the 'Primeval Histories' of Genesis 1-11 stand in stark contrast to the 'Primeval Histories' that Abraham would have been taught in Ur.
In the Ur stories (The Gilgamesh Epic) that Abraham would have grown up with - the gods create the world through war and violence.  A flood comes when the gods are grumpy with people for making too much noise.  In Abraham and Israel's inspired foundational story God creates a good world in love (Gen 1:31).  The flood story tells of God's sadness at all the evil people that did to each other and his hope for Noah (Gen 6:5-6).  These concepts become foundational for Israel's understanding of who they are and who God is. 

As you continue to read The Story ask yourself what your 'foundational stories' are.  These foundational stories enter into our consciousness through our experiences, our relationships, the things we say to ourselves and to each other, the propaganda we accept.  Pray that you would have the grace to ground yourself in God's story about you and the world around you.
When we meet every Sunday to pray and to read scripture we are reminding ourselves to live in God's story; we are inviting God to drown out the voices that distract us.

Communion and Covenant Next Sunday 7 Feb
Next Sunday (7 February) we will renew our covenant with God as we say our Wesleyan covenant prayer.  The covenant prayer is a prayer of surrender:
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.
Basically a chance to ask God to be the teller of your story.
Small Groups and Bible Study
Thank you to all those who attended Bible Study last Monday evening.  This Monday evening at 730pm we will reflect on Faith.  St Paul uses Abraham's faith to illustrate what it means to be 'Saved by faith.'
On Thursday nights there are two new small groups forming led by Ian Milne and Jacques Kellerman.  Please pray for these groups as they begin their journey together.  Our youth pastor Iain will also be starting a cell group for teens.
Valentines Breakfast

Tickets for the Valentines Breakfast will be on sale from this Sunday.

Youth Group
Junior Youth (gr 1-6) is from 530-7pm on Friday evening and senior (7-12) from 730-10.  Iain needs helpers for senior youth so if you feel called in that direction please chat to him.

God bless,
Rev Angus Kelly

Happy New Year & Pastoral Letter January 2016

Hi Table View Methodist Family,
This Sunday we're back in action with services at 8h00, 9h30 and 11h00; Sunday School will start on 17 January.  Iain Uys is preaching at 8h00 and Mbulelo Bikwani at 9h30 and 11h00.  I'll be enjoying a weekend off.

I pray that you would be blessed in 2016.  Blessed with the knowledge that you are God's adopted, chosen, beloved children - because of his love revealed in the person and work of his son Jesus Christ.  I tried to describe this in my sermon last Sunday and you can listen if you like via our website - www.tvmethodist.co.za click on the 'Sermons' tab near the top of the page.  If you use iTunes you can subscribe to the podcast here (if you have trouble sleeping at night - this might be the cure!).
My Christmas day message challenged me to pay attention to what God is saying.  To move closer and investigate (as the shepherds did) and to move into the world with renewed attention to what God is doing and saying, and how God is calling us.  Each one of us is called and chosen to be a representative of his Kingdom here today and to pay attention to his leading.
Pray for our World and our Country

As we pay attention we learn that these are interesting times, there is a lot of tension - social, racial, economic, political - we need to confess that we, as a nation, as God's people have not listened to his voice; we have hardened our hearts and tended to our own needs rather than the needs of those around us; we have not... 
...acted justly, loved mercy and walked humbly with our God.
- Micah 6:8

At the dedication of the temple in 2 Chronicles 7:14 God speaks to Solomon:
"...if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn away from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

We need to humble ourselves as beggars before God, realising our powerlessness and God's power over our sin.  We need to look into the eyes of God (revealed in Jesus Christ) and be transformed by that encounter.  We need to turn away from injustice, racism, from the things that we do that we know don't please God.  And receive his grace and healing.  This is how God heals the land.
The Story
I pray that this year - as we read through the scriptures together we will be 'rebuked, corrected and trained for righteousness...' so that we will be 'equipped for every good work.' (2 Timothy 3:16) Equipped for Christ Likeness.
On Sunday 24 January we will begin our journey through: The Story - The Bible as one continuing story of God and his people.  You can find out more about The Story at www.thestory.com.  (There will be an introductory sermon on 17 January).

You do not have to buy the book to enjoy the journey; I will let you know which parts of the Bible to read - but the book makes it easier.  If financial constraints prevent your buying the book, please speak to me so that we can offer you a discount / arrange a sponsored copy.

Order forms for the books for Adults (R70), Children 5-9 (R90) and Little Ones 3-6 (R60) are available in church.  For The Story aimed at primary school children (The Story for Kids) you can go to www.loot.co.za (About R160) or buy it for kindle on Amazon.com (It is on special - at about R15 $0.99 depending on exchange rate).  The adult book is also available on special on kindle for about R30 $1.99).
Program:
17 January - Introduction to the Story - What is the Bible?
24 January - Chapter 1, Genesis - The Beginning of Life as We Know It
31 January - Chapter 2, God builds a nation
6 February - Chapter 3, Fom Slave to Deputy Pharaoh
13 February - Chapter 4, Deliverance
On Monday nights I will lead a Bible Study discussion / presentation from 730-830pm. All Small Groups will follow The Story in the week following the sermon; discussion guides and notes will be available at the services on Sunday (I will prepare them in the week preceding the sermon).
The best thing about The Story is that it takes the whole church on the journey together; Sunday School, Small Group, and Sunday Sermon.

Wander in Wonder (Kirstenbosch Garden, 26 January, 10am)
We'll look at Genesis on Sunday 24 January so I thought it would be a good idea for anyone who is free to join us to come for a wander in wonder at Kirstenbosch Gardens on 26 January.  It is free for pensioners with an SA ID on Tuesdays; The rest of us pay R55!  Bring a sandwich, some liquid refreshment and a picnic blanket (no chairs allowed, but there are benches in the gardens).  If you need a lift meet at the church at 9am; I can fit 2 small people (pop up seats) and 4 big people in my car + me.

Aftercare Proposal
We've been approached by two moms who want to run an aftercare for up to 30 primary school children (starting with 15) at our church premises.  The aftercare would run all day during the holidays and school terms from 1230 to 6pm and they would pay us rental of R150 per child (About 10% of what they are charging).  They would have to adapt around the church's needs when it came to funerals and other events during the holidays.  We agreed to investigate this further at our Annual Society Meeting last year.
There are obviously pros and cons to consider and I'm not sure if we'll know if it works if we don't try.  What I suggest is that we start with 3 months on a trial basis to see if the arrangement works for the church and the aftercare.
I think this is an opportunity to participate more fully in the life of the community of Table View.  If the aftercare is successful the funds raised might help us to erect more suitable Sunday School / Aftercare facilities that will benefit us and the aftercare.  But most of all it opens us to new relationships.
Please inform the society stewards or me of any problems you foresee.
God bless,
Gus