Thursday, 14 December 2017

St Patrick’s Chapel Newsletter December 2017

We can't believe that it is already Christmas!! There are three special items of news this Christmas:

  • Rev Margaret Fourie is back to take the Christmas services – Sunday 24th at 10am; Christmas Day 25th Holy Communion at 8am and Christmas Family Service at 10am and Sunday 31 December 2017 at 10am. We welcome you back, Margaret, and look forward to your services.
  • Christmas Services will kick off on Christmas Eve 24 December 2017 at 5:30 at St Patrick’s with a Carol/Crib Service. We especially welcome our young ones (and young at heart), so please bring your children along. The service will capture the Christmas story in song with the children assembling the crib. Gwyneth Lloyd will sing special items. The Service will be led by Norma Fivaz and Ann Webster.
  • For those early risers (the ones that want to open their presents asap, Christmas Day  (25 December 2017), we will start Christmas day with an early morning communion service at 8am at St Patrick’st St Patrick’s. The Christmas Family Service will be lead by Rev Margaret Fourie at 10am. We were hoping to hold the Christmas Family Service in the Arboretum but Forestry is not able to open the roadway yet. Let’s hope that by next Christmas we are able to return to the forest for our service. If there is any change, check back on this blog for updates. 

Monday, 4 December 2017

Sermon: 3 December - Leon Van Niekerk

This Sunday we were very blessed indeed to have our Afrikaans minister, Leon Van Niekerk, visiting us from East London.

The songs Leon chose really put us in the Christmas spirit and brought home the joyous wonder of our baby Jesus to us. Norma and Santie also blessed us in playing Welkom, o stille nag van vrede...

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Help me

 Reading: Ps 121

Where do you like to holiday? I like the mountains, but I need help there! They are hard work!  So the mountains make me think of the need for help.

Perhaps the most common prayer is for help; it is frequent in the Bible.  And help is promised (eg Ps 121:8).  The psalm promises three times that God will watch over us (NIV).  The older RSV translation uses the word "keep", which is both a better translation and more comforting than just watching.  The psalm says that God preserves, and protects, and then says "        From now and for evermore", again a better translation than the NIV.

So for help we go to GOD, so lift up eyes to the hills! They are not the source of help, but often speak of God. He is our Ebenezer (rock of help) (cf Matt 7:24f).  It is not surprising that God is often associated with mountains (cf 1 Ki 20:23,28).  Many significant things happened on mountains, eg Ararat, Sinai, Zion, Bryn Calfaria (Welsh for hill of Calvary. Look to God, look away from troubles.  Psalm 121 is "A song of ascents", sung by pilgrims on the way to worship in Jerusalem.

After all, He MADE the hills (Ps 121:2)!  He is able and reliable, there is no sleeping with him!

But if we want God's help, we first acknowledge the need!  The problem is that we are loath to, liking independence - asking for help offends our pride!  This is the root of sin. But we need God's help, both for salvation now and for evermore - we cannot save or help ourselves - why are we stubborn?

Our faith recognises the priority of grace, that salvation is not earned, but is a gift.  But then we work to develop God's salvation in us (Phil 1:23).  Part of this is that we help others by God's strength in us. Helping is working together (Phil 2:13). Love one another as He loved us.

So God sends helpers! Eve was created as Adam's helper (Gen 2:18), the Holy Spirit is aparaklete (called alongside).  Through him we are helped and God shows us what to do.

Then, amazingly, while we pray "Help me!", God requests OUR help!   He gives us the privilege of service.  If being helped offends our pride, here is something to be proud of. We are his workers in the world.  At his inaugural in 1961, President Kennedy appealed, "Do not ask what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country". So do not ask what God can do for you but what you can do for God!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Our annual retreat

Our Retreat this year promises to be another stimulating spiritual experience. It is to be held at the Grasslands farm 10km from the village and at the foot of the magnificent Hogsback Mountains.

The cottage has lots of space, good facilities, beautiful views and access to walks. We plan to spend two nights: Thursday and Friday the 3rd and 4th November 2017. However, one can choose to spend only Friday night as Thursday afternoon and Friday morning will be free meditative time.

Ds Dr Leon van Niekerk will lead the official programme from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon with the theme of Relationships. He will take the service on the Sunday when we will report back to the congregation on the Retreat.

Everybody is invited to attend.

Please contact Norma phone 045 962 1017, if you would like to attend. There is still limited space available.

We look forward to a great Retreat.

Sermon Sunday 15 October: Houses on the rock and the sand


Matt 7:24-7 
1 Chron 28:1-10,20
Matt 7:13-29

I am always glad that I am busy, and have a house to maintain. Are you a builder? Or just content to sit? We NEED to build, as we need a house, but also need to build the church, and to build our lives.

Jesus was a workman! And seeks to build his church (Matt 16:18), but He builds through us.  But even if we do the work, we must always remember that He knows what to do, so we must listen, which is the key point of the parable!  His word is essential.  So the parable is at the end of sermon on the mount, which gives our instructions.

Just before this, Jesus talks of the danger of false teachers (Matt 7:16, 22).  These can be popular and persuasive (Matt 7:13), and even able to do miracles!  Jesus thus says that they are known by fruit not works, what they are not what they do. And do we think that we know better than Jesus?

The parable is of two houses, identical but with just one difference - the foundation.  The one which lasts is built on the ROCK.  What is this?    Jesus builds his church based on Peter's confession (Matt 16:16) of faith.          Peter's name means the ROCK, and we are likewise saved by our faith.  In Jerusalem there is the Dome of the ROCK, over the place of Abraham's sacrifice.  Our faith rests on the sacrifice for our sins by Jesus. In a building the foundation is not seen, neither is our faith immediately visible - Jesus is humble.

Paul also says that there is no other foundation (1 Cor 3:11). We must build on that rock to avoid disaster.  Note that we do not make the foundation - Salvation is a GIFT, only to be accepted by us.  What matters is that we build in the RIGHT place.  The wrong place is ultimately useless - where are you trying to build?

This matters because of the rain, flood and wind. They WILL, not might, come.  And there will be other problems!  But these do not affect the foundation.  Troubles are hard, but they are not disastrous, and so trouble need not disturb your faith.

In contrast, the house on the sand WILL fall.  In any case, we all die! But usually there is a warning first.  Often the wall will crack before it falls. What do we do?  Do not try to strengthen the wall (which is often our solution), but which will not ultimately succeed.   The only cure is a good foundation, so to move to the rock.  Swallow your pride!

And then?  You cannot live just on a foundation!  Build on it (1 Cor 3:10f), but with two requirements.  Let Jesus be the cornerstone (1 Pet 2:6f), and use good materials, not wood, hay and stubble!

But finally, that house is for this life!  I am looking to the one that Jesus is Himself building for us (Jn 14:2), in heaven.

Picture copyright: 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Sermon Sunday 17 September: In a glass darkly

David always entertain us with a practical life snippet using real life artifacts. Today he brought a mirror along.....

Sermon reading: 1 Cor 13:12

If you are one of the older contingent, it is probable that the Bible sometimes misleads you.  The old King James or Authorised Version refers in our text to a glass, and we probably think of obscurity from dirty or poor glass. Today however, there are many translations, so we get an accurate translation.  Having an intelligible Bible is a great privilege since Wycliffe and Tyndale, who suffered great persecution to translate it.

Glass was actually very rare in Bible days, the reference is to mirrors, which were made in Corinth.  We take mirrors much for granted, but they are very useful.

Through them we know the world better; astronomical telescopes use mirrors to magnify the light.  There is actually a new one about to be put into orbit, an improvement on Hubble telescope.  The hope is that through it humanity will better understand the origins of the universe.  My hope is that it will then be clearer that God is the almighty creator, and no other explanation of origins makes sense.  "The heavens declare God" (Ps 19), and mirrors aid that declaration.

Through mirrors you can know yourself. Mirrors help us to see what we otherwise could not, such as our faces.  A mirror is a reminder that we need to know ourselves better, and if so, we should not forget (Jas 1:23)

We have a mirror - what is it?  We are helped by looking at the context of our verse; the next indicates that it is:
            Christ - who is received by FAITH, through which we are saved
            Christ - who gives HOPE of something better than this life - we can have confidence
            Christ - who reflects the nature of God so that we LOVE Him.  A mirror gives a reflection, and Christ is the image of God (Heb 1:3)

If Christ is THE mirror, we can become a mirror, as we are created in God's image (Gen 1:27).  We should reflect God's glory (2 Cor 3:18), by transformation, and through loving Him - both by the Spirit.  We can then do two things,
            We are able to show Jesus- as in a car headlight, which has a mirror to reflect the light ahead
            We are able to warn - as the reflector in a tail-light helps warn others

But it can be that we reflect darkly: then the view is poor.  If so:
            Get somebody to help us - remember the log and speck (Matt 7:3f)?
            Polish the mirror - do what we can to understand Him better
            Improve the lighting - by the work of the Spirit

And then?  Again look at the context!  A reflection is good, but it will be better in the future: we will see Him face to face (1 Cor 15).  But for now - enjoy His presence (1 Cor 14)!

Prof David T Williams
Theology (retired)