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Good Friday Services Online

Good Friday

Hi Tableview Methodist Church Family,

It is 530am on Good Friday and I just got up to upload the church service to YouTube and Facebook.  I'm so glad we can reach each other in this way.  Its been quite amazing to see so many of my colleagues on Facebook uploading their services and struggling with the new way of doing things with new technology and so we pray for our clergy everywhere who all become televangelists and digital content producers in the last few weeks :)

If technology co-operates you will be able to watch our service on Facebook or Youtube from 8am.

The Easter Sunday Service should be broadcast from 7am on Sunday Morning.  The nice thing about technology is... you can watch these services any time after they are available.  So, if you slept in - its OK you can watch now.

God bless you with lots of love and peace.

Rev Gus
Service via Youtube
Link to our Youtube Good Friday Service, you will be able to watch from 8am on Friday Morning.
Service via Facebook
Link to Facebook Good Friday Service, you will be able to watch from 8am on Friday Morning. (You shouldn't have to log in to watch this).
Apparently DSTV has also launched an African Easter channel.  If you have DSTV you can watch an address by our Presiding Bishop Purity Malinga at 1230pm on Good Friday.  I believe our General Secretary, Rev Michel Hansrod will be on at 6h30 on Sunday (Check your schedules because I am not sure of these details).

The Northern Cluster of the Cape West Coast Circuit will be broadcasting the Service of Seven Words online:



You should be able to follow via; https://www.facebook.com/CapeWestCoastNorth

God bless you until Sunday 7am :)

Rev Gus

Should we keep calm and carry on?

Should we keep calm and carry on?

- Rev Angus Kelly

In 1939 the British government introduced this poster in preparation for World War 2.  They produced 2.45 million copies and yet the poster was rarely displayed:


"Keep Calm and Carry On" is a typically stiff upper lipped stoic response to the difficulties that we face.  Right now I think everyone is doing their best to keep calm and to carry on as if everything was normal.  But it is not normal.

When we realised that we had to reduce the numbers at church and then probably shut the church's doors for a bit the first thing on my mind was to try to keep things as 'normal' as possible.  I wanted to film the church service at the pulpit - using the usual format for the service.  I've also tried really hard to get video and voice messages from folks at church to keep us feeling 'connected'.  

Work continues for many people as if it were normal.  Instead of meeting in board rooms we are meeting on Zoom, Skype, Facebook etc. and we long for the return 'to normal'.  Yet at the same time we incorporate the ‘new’ realising that many of these technologies could be very useful in a new future.

As we integrate this new normal – you will ask us how we feel.  We will tell you that we feel like we're in a dream or watching a movie.  It feels like reality at the moment is a kind of out of body experience.  Things seem a little out of joint.

This is what grief feels like.  This is emotional shock. 
And our bodies have a programmed reaction to that - they are programmed to mourn. 

To become sad. 

To sleep more than usual. 

And yet - because we're trying so hard to 'Keep Calm and Carry On' we will do laps around our lounges, wear a suit to video conferences and personally I'll try to make April Fool's jokes and get myself and those around me to laugh.

Sensing the new levels of stress our children will act out here and there and we are quite likely to get a bit grumpy with them because we’re also stressed and all of this can easily cycle into an unnecessary fury.

We all need to give each other a few extra meters of space.

A verse that has been bouncing around my head is the question that the Psalmist asks in verse 5 of Psalm 42:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Saviour and my God.

It is very easy to go straight to verse 5 and carry on with the positive end of the Psalm about the hopeful promises of God but to get to verse 5 the Psalmist prays through the first four verses.  In our ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ world we need to realise that to carry on is possible – but to keep calm we might need to first have a bit of a wobbly.

Primal Thirst


Deer in creek | Animals beautiful, Cute animals, Animal pictures

Verse 1 - As the deer pants for streams of water... is not just a pretty picture.  In my imagination I see Bambi lapping the waters of a cool forest stream.  But in reality the deer's primal thirst for water will drive it to distraction.  Hungering and thirsting are deep and primal desires common to animals and humans.  The wildly migrating herds of the savanna are not putting on a show for the nature programs.  They are desperately racing towards food, water and life.  Their journey is a matter of life and death.

When we are thirsty we will go to great extremes to find what we need to quench that thirst.  Good thirst knows that water is what is needed.  Yet through addiction many of us have programmed ourselves to thirst for the wrong things.  That is why addiction is so hard to beat.  Your body has learned to quench its primal thirst for life giving water with a desire for drugs, sex, sugar, affirmation at work, alcohol, power, money – all of these things that we believe will quench our thirst but are actually more like trying to drink salt water.

Springbok,animal,lion,water,hole - free image from needpix.com

Thirsty is a simple illustration of the way in which we feel out of place in the
world right now.  Our experience of the current reality as something from a movie or from a bad dream is a signal to our inner being that we should not be calm.  The stream where we used to find our cooling and calm water seems to have moved or dried up.  Maybe it has gone underground.

A month or so ago a friend and I went on a hike that was poorly marked.  We didn’t know it was poorly marked when we left but as we went on our journey the little arrows tied to trees became fewer and fewer.  We could only assume that what we were on was a path because there seemed to be a little bit of order in the chaos of the brambles and bushes that were cutting our legs in the early morning dew.  It was a stressful hike.  When towards the end of the hike we found the clearly marked path again we walked and laughed with a new sense of certainty.

It is as if the familiar paths that we would take to find the water and comfort we are used to have all suddenly been overgrown and disrupted.  We thirst for the comforting stream but all we find is a forest whose trees seem to have somehow shifted in the night.

A thirsty deer will not be able to 'keep calm and carry on' but will do all in its power to find the water it needs to stay alive.  To get to that water it will attempt to jump across great ravines, climb unfamiliar paths and even crouch do drink where lions are prowling.  During times of calm and serenity this deer looks like Bambi but when we are thirsty and displaced our longing becomes primal.

Weeping and Mourning


I'm not saying I'm a tough guy - but it has been a long time since I've cried properly.  I'm actually a very sentimental person; I cry so easily when I hear good news or bad news - when I baptise children and bless marriages.  But to say that tears have become my food is to say that I have wept so much I can taste it.  I remember doing that when I was a child, but as an adult my tears have been far more sentimental.

If we "Keep Calm and Carry On" without mourning our losses we won't be able to carry on.  Right now, on day seven of South Africa's lock down and having kept our eyes on events in the rest of the world there is a sense of calm and we’re not sure if it is the ‘calm before the storm’  We know that our government has acted quickly and this lockdown has been amazingly peaceful (all things considered) but our levels of uncertainty are extreme.

The Psalmist weeps and bargains, longs for normality: "how I used to go to the house of God..." (4). But right now we are stuck in that moment of not knowing what will happen next.  This contributes to that feeling of disjointed dreaminess.

There is a disconnect between our being and doing, our knowing and acting.  If you are used to security, regular income and a comfortable life - right now you cannot be certain that things will continue this way.

We are encouraged to ‘stay strong’ and not to feel sorry for ourselves because you will always be able to think of someone worse off than yourself and someone better off than yourself.  In South Africa the law for the lockdown insists that people don’t go running, cycling or taking their dogs for walks and some are phoning in to the radio stations to complain.  Considering everything else that is happening this seems like a silly issue – but I mention it because on the surface it is a silly issue.  But to the person who is stressed about what is happening now it is a controllable moment of normality that they long to exert their control over.  A daily ritual or habit that gives them a sense of control in a generally out of control world.

But this experience of stress right now is not about them.  It is about you.  If you don't deal with your experience of this moment you won't be able to help others through theirs.  In hospital ministry I realised that different people respond differently.  Each of us experience our trauma in our own way.  One person's cracked rib is another person’s amputation.  The eco-system of things that make you 'you' mean that you will experience this crisis in your own way. 

One person’s greatest stress is not being able to take their dog out.  Another person won’t be able to feed their family.  Chances are the person who wants to walk their dog will be positioned to make a lot more noise than the person without air time wondering where their next meal will come from.  Be careful not to diminish your own displacement by just telling yourself it ‘could be worse.’  Deal with your grief as small as it may seem in the context of everything that is going on. 

These things that worry and upset you are more important to you than you realise and they often reflect a deeper soul reflecting reality than you are consciously aware of.

I used to go to the house of God


The Psalmist weeps with longing for the familiar interactions, smells and sounds of a festival at the temple (Verse 4).  For many of the faithful this lockdown will disrupt their traditional celebration of Easter.  This festival is so important because it confronts our pain and darkness – our relationship with all that is cruel and evil – as we think of Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday.  It acknowledges our displacement and lostness on the journey through Holy Saturday when the disciples remain hidden in the upper room in the shock of what has just happened.  And then on Easter Sunday the reminder that evil does not have the victory. 

Where O death is now thy sting?  Alleluia

In South Africa Easter is a big deal.  It has served as a moment of remembering the possibility of victory over evil, sin and death, the grace of Jesus’ forgiveness and vindication in an unjust world.  An anchor of certitude in a chaotic world.

The Psalmist teaches us to weep for what we have lost:  “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng and led them in procession to the house of God.” (4)

For this moment you're trapped in the machinations of a world in transition.   There are cogs and grinders spinning all around you and bits and pieces of your being and knowing will get squashed, mangled and reshaped.  As the saying goes: "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."  But it will only make you stronger if you consciously incorporate this moment's reality into yourself.  If you allow yourself the time to weep, sleep and mourn.  To grapple with the "Where is your God?" question (3) and to pour out your soul (4) and to remember your reasons for mourning.

Why my soul are you downcast?


In a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ world where everyone seems to be coping better than you you might feel a bit silly to feel downcast.  You need to know that you’re not the only one feeling that way.  The Psalmist seems perplexed.  He talks to himself.  Encourages himself:

Verse 5 - Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him my saviour and my God.

This is important – but more is needed.  You can’t just chant yourself into positivity.  Trite sayings like ‘Your altitude depends on your attitude’ are not actually that true.  Good rhymes and rhythms don’t necessarily produce good theology or good people.

This is not a promise that positive thinking will drive all your problems away.  It is just a small candle flickering in a dark room reminding you that a light shines and darkness can not overcome it.  You are not without hope – and even if everything else is lost one thing will always remain.  God.  And the reason for our being – the opportunity to praise him.

The Psalmist also reminds us of the nature of God.  Not just a God up there demanding our worship but God who is as the Psalmist writes: “my saviour”.

As Christians we load the ‘my saviour’ title for God with New Testament imagery.  The imagery of Christ on the cross to save us from sin and death.  But the Psalmist writes before that time.  The Psalmist has come to know that God is the kind of God who reaches out to us when we are lost and losing – lifts us up – and saves us.  Saviour is not just a New Testament term – this is the God who rescues from hopelessness who lifts us out of the depths.  A God who loves and redeems.  And always works to lift us up from our places of brokenness and despair.

My soul is downcast within me


Our Psalmist didn’t end with the positive encouragement of verse 5 – asking his soul: “Why are you downcast?” And responding with the instruction: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”  As if this verse would lift us up and cheer us up – and we’re tempted in our times of crisis, or when others are going through theirs to say ‘pull yourself together,’ ‘keep calm and carry on.’

Instead, the Psalmist goes on: “My soul is downcast within me.”  This sadness of soul is real and needs to be dealt with.  To deal with this downcast soul he will ‘remember’ God.

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan…
         - Psalm 42:6

The Psalmist gives us a signal of his geographic position.  Quite far from Jerusalem, about a week’s walk to the temple.  Yet this journey could have been hampered at various times by political circumstances in the region.  As far away as he is from the temple that symbolises God’s presence he knows that God is still with him.



Deep calls to Deep

The Psalmist has shared his primal need for God’s comfort and strength, a thirsty soul.  At this time of disruption we are thirsty for ‘normality’ and to know God’s presence with us wherever we are.  This disruption has led to mourning and weeping and even some doubt about faith.  He longs for the opportunity to go to the house of God and be united with the congregation.  During this time of disruption we can identify with all of these feelings.  This brings him to the point of asking his soul: “Why are you downcast within me?”  And reminding himself to put his trust in God.

But he does not deny his reality:  My soul is downcast within me.

For the healing to begin he will ‘remember’ God.  We can remember in many different ways.  The most simple way is the way that we recall someone’s name or a fact in a history test.  This remembering is deeper than just ‘recall.’  When I imagine the word ‘remember’ I think of it like I think of the dry bones in Ezekiel, as the bits and pieces are brought together I like to think that they are re-membered.  Being pulled together in a kind of reality.  If you miss someone you love your ‘remembering’ of them will be much deeper than just recall.  In your imagination you will remember a kiss, a smell, a texture, a hug; some words or a manner of expression.

This ‘remembering’ of Psalm 42:6 and 4 is a sensual kind of memory – recalling sights, sounds, experiences and feelings.  To do this kind of remembering we need to stop everything else and engage ourselves fully in the moment.  As Christians our highest act of worship is an act of remembering that involves actions, breaking bread together with glad and thankful hearts.  Remembering how Jesus broke bread with his disciples.

You can’t keep calm and carry on if you don’t stop and remember what you are missing, what you have lost.  Your soul needs some healing.  And so we surrender to the deep:

Deep calls to deep
    
in the roar of your waterfalls;all your waves and breakers
    
have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
    
at night his song is with me—
    
a prayer to the God of my life.
- Verses 7 and 8

The ocean near my home is incredibly cold and I don’t swim as much as I would like to.  But I love swimming in the breakers and waves; I like to hold my breath and be carried tumbling and turning under the water.  At a site where I recently camped with my family there was a roaring waterfall.  So heavy that I couldn’t quite stand under the fall of the water.

Right now, just like in the case of ocean waves and wild waterfalls you are subject to currents and forces that are way beyond your control.  This is emotionally and mentally traumatic.  But as humans we have ways of dealing with these things.

The Psalmist reminds us to ‘remember’ and I advise that this ‘remembering’ be a deep kind of remembering a kind that takes time.  This remembering may be accompanied by mourning, an acknowledgment of sadness.  And in remembering the Psalmist offers us verse 8:

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me.

Earlier on I mentioned that the paths and ways that we knew to get to the water we need have all been disrupted.  All the changes that have just sprung on us have messed up our usual paths.  The trouble is a lot of life happens without much thought.  You know your ways, you know how to communicate in real life, your usual interactions are well practiced.

Even though you didn’t realise it every night as you sleep your brain does some shuffling and rearranging of the information it took in during the day.  This rest time for the thinking parts of your brain helps you to cope with the challenges of each day in the most brain efficient way.

All of a sudden new maps and processes have been forced upon you.  You will find yourself feeling quite tired and you will be working from home.  The temptation will be to work extra hours.  With a disrupted economy you will feel you have to earn your wages and you will have a new sense of ‘insecurity’ in your employment.  You desperately need a rest.  But you just can’t take one.  And once you’ve worked late into the night your sleep will be so disturbed by your stress that your brain won’t get a chance to re-integrate the new information.

Your brain wires itself when you exercise, when you relax.  When you are concentrating it just keeps running.  If you don’t do the leisure things your brain will become like Eskom and will have to start load shedding because of inadequate maintenance.  If you’re stuck at home for a change you’ve become used to the mindless wait in the traffic or on the bus.  You’ve been able to walk and take a lunch break in a context different to your home.  You’ve had stimulating leisure conversations in addition to stressful work conversations.

If businesses that have suddenly introduced work from home strategies do not also inform their employees about the need for some neural balance they will find that the ‘brains’ of their operations will begin to malfunction.

To cope with the sudden changes you are going to need more rest than usual.  And the Psalmist reminds us:

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me.

You are not alone in the hurry of the day.  God’s love is with you.  And at night as you rest and recalibrate for tomorrows challenges – God’s song is with you.  Singing order and beauty back into your life the way the Spirit moved over the waters at the beginning. 

A while ago I was on a retreat where the leader reminded us:  ‘Sleeping is just resting in the smile of God.’  I love that image.  And I am reminded of the need to sleep, to do mindless unproductive stuff.  To let my brain be rewired as I simply let God do what God does.  Directing his love, singing his song.

Then we can start to think about what it might mean to keep calm.  Don’t carry on.  Recalibrate.  Everything the world is going through is not normal.  You’re allowed to weep.  To sleep.  You need to.

You probably want to eat too.  Your brain actually uses a lot of energy to do its rewiring, you might need to eat some extra brain food.

And your body will work against you a bit.  It will ask for sugar – and once its caught on to the idea of extra naps it might become greedy for even more sleep.  Just monitor yourself.

Why have you forgotten me? (Verse 9)


The Psalmist doesn’t promise and end to pain through positive affirmations.  He knows God’s love and yet still wrestles with feeling abandoned and forgotten.  In verse 10 he says that his ‘foes’ taunt him all day long saying: “Where is your God?”  We can imagine a faithful servant being taunted by people who don’t believe.  But we also know that our ‘foes’ are deep inside us.  They are usually the things inside us that compete for ‘god status’ – finance, relationships, health, cars, power, popularity, careers, certainty… Things that we thin are important but we know are not.

We can turn that question around: “Where is your God?” and ask ourselves who will be our god at this time?  And we will work in our hearts and minds to make sure that our God will be the LORD who directs his love toward us and sings over us.  The LORD who we know saves us.

Put your hope in God (Verse 11)


You don’t have to keep calm, but you will be able to carry on.  Not because everything is easy to deal with.  Not because you are strong and powerful.  But because God is good.  In verse 11 the Psalmist asks again: “Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?”  We are not invited to dismiss the reasons for our uneasiness at this time.  We are invited to investigate these questions.  Our souls are disturbed.  Why?  Because the world is changing at a pace we had not anticipated.  Everything that used to be vaguely predictable is now chaotic.  We’re allowed to not be calm.

But a quiet whisper audibly echoes through the rush of waterfalls and crashing of breakers:

Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him,
My Saviour and my God.
-       Verse 11

The last words of this Psalm: “My Saviour and my God.” Remind us that we surrender ourselves to a God who saves us.  We do not try to do this on our own.  I’m reminded again of the words we pray at communion:

It is your nature always to have mercy and on that we depend.



Pastoral Note 2 April 2020

Hi Tableview Methodist Church Family,

I hope and pray that you are doing as well as can be expected at a time like this.  And I want to let you know that its OK to be 'not OK' because God has got this.  Even if your faith at the moment is not enough to be able to say 'God has got this' - the comforting news is it does not depend on your faith.  It depends on God's love.

It really has been a whirlwind of a time though.  Since news of the lockdown and all the stress and turmoil to this point you might not have had much of a chance to let it all sink in.  Tomorrow will mark the end of the first week in lock down.  1/3rd of the way through...

Well done.

I know that many of our church members form part of the essential services necessary to keep things going and respond to the crisis.  We're keeping you in our prayers.

Video Services

I'm getting the hang of this 'video' church thing and I am sure that the learning curve is getting a bit flatter.  The best way for me to do the videos is by uploading them a bit earlier so that you can watch without interruption.  I had hoped 'live' messages would work but our data just isn't fast or stable enough.

All of the videos will be available at www.facebook.com/tableviewmethodistchurch/videos

Whatsapp Broadcast
We have a Whatsapp communication group that you can subscribe to (this is a one way messaging group, you won't get spam) to subscribe [for free]  click this link from your phone:  

Isaac has set up a group for youth / parents with children and he is sending out some resources and ideas; to be added to this group follow this link:
https://chat.whatsapp.com/IVnrdueagzbG4RVYc8mVqM

Palm Sunday

This Sunday is Palm Sunday so I invite you to make palm crosses for yourselves - I made one out of a sort of grass that grows in my garden.  Here are some instructions.

57133898_2235996623144831_7867788999987822592_o.jpg
Also - why not decorate your front door or your gate with some greenery to let others know that you are celebrating Palm Sunday?

You can watch a sill video I made about making palm crosses:


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Lots of love and many blessings.
Rev Gus

(Feel free to send me messages etc. Its a great way to be in touch)

--

Rev Angus Kelly