Thank you for allowing me some time off to get my bearings.
Small aeroplanes have little mirrors on the wing. The pilot can look out on the wing and get a view of his aeroplane; I'm not sure what they would look for? Are the wheels down or up? Is the plane still in one piece? Or maybe its just for taking selfies. Such a simple tool for doing an important job.
On Sunday 30 July I had an experience at the Dunoon Society that traumatized me more than I realized. I'm not a tough guy (although I might some times do an unconvincing job of pretending to be). I don't believe my experience was dangerous; I know that the peace and love of Christ goes with me wherever I go. But some people tried to intimidate me, preventing me from preaching and serving communion.
I thought I was OK after the event, but Heather (my wife) saw that I was not. I took my day off on Monday and wrote down a report for my bishop on Tuesday. On Tuesday I also received the news that one of our bishops, Rev Thembinkosi Fandaleki had been murdered in Umtata. The news shocked me; a reminder that angry people do reckless things and raising a lot of 'what ifs' about my experience at Dunoon on Sunday.
Heather forced me to go to the Dr who booked me off for 10 days. I had no intention of following his advice.
Heather is a good wing mirror. She informed my bishop of my intentions to return to work without my landing gear down. He called and ordered me to follow the Dr's orders. I'm glad they conspired for me. I've had time to pray; to check my wing mirrors; to remember how Jesus calls me to love others as I love myself.
Acknowledging that my capacity to love; to care; must come from a place of knowing that I am loved and the I am cared for by God, and that is exemplified in the way that I care for myself.
It is a great and precious privilege to have a wife who stood up for my soul when I wasn't going to. A bishop who cared enough to call and 'discipline' me. So many of you who have kept me in your prayers. Colleagues like Iain, Di and Cathy at the office; all of our Society Stewards and Rev Kevin Needham who stepped in to help me know that I should stop trying to do everything and be everything to everyone - even when my 'heart' is not right.
Some might be shocked and disappointed with the fact that there are ever conflicts in the church. Unfortunately the scriptures testify to a church that has often been in conflict. We must not let conflicts within our churches deter us from the goal of the Kingdom of God to which Christ has called us.
As Paul and James write to the churches of the New Testament they constantly have to warn them not to be tricked in to conflicts. Paul reminds us: 'Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.' (Ephesians 6:10) The Greek word is almost the same as 'methods' - an acknowledgment of the reality that evil makes clever plans to thwart God's good plans.
Please keep praying for the church. Keep praying for our bishop, superintendent, ministers, the Circuit Stewards and other leaders in our circuit. Pray especially for our Presiding Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa. The church's outspoken role in calling for Zuma to step down, in exposing aspects of 'State Capture' to parliament through the work of the South African Council of Church's is a practical and spiritual battle.
The 'Race Baiting' fanned by organizations like Bell Pottinger and used as political rhetoric is an attempt to trivialize the real and material issues of injustice and brokenness in our country. We need to pray for leaders who will lead us into justice with tremendous grace.
We need to have Christ centered; Holy Spirit enlightened conversations about how the church can be an agent of change and transformation. In all of this we need to 'stand against the wiles of the devil' who loves to see people suffer, who loves to perpetuate injustice, who delights in the prospect of egotistical world leaders unleashing 'fire and fury' on each other.
These past two weeks I realized that my experience on 30 July was a moment on the front lines of a spiritual battle. The devil loves a divided church. In that battle Paul calls on us to 'take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.' (Ephesians 6:16) Flaming arrows are cruel weapons; they start fires that start more fires; the make us doubt ourselves, our purpose; God's love... The super natural shield of faith quenches those arrows and makes them powerless on Sunday.
I look forward to worshipping with you on Sunday as we celebrate the work of Women in the church (in honour of women's day on 9 August) Women of the church will be leading prayers and Bible readings at all services. Ms Siyathokoza Mesatywa will preach at 930am and facilitate the Women's Manyano's preaching at the 11am service.
Rev Angus Kelly