Monday, 19 September 2016

Sunday the 18th September: The release of Peter

Word to the young of heart:

Reading: Acts 12:1-1

It is wonderful when we get a blessing from God, but it is not unusual that soon afterwards comes trouble, even persecution.  So has your faith ever got you into trouble? It probably should! This is what happened in the early church.  Peter received tremendous blessing, then found himself in prison.  Christians should expect to suffer - as Jesus told us, the world hates us (Jn 15:18).

Persecution of Christians is actually irrational - they give no reason or threat.  (this has not always been the case, as the church has at times itself persecuted, like parts of modern Islam.) Jesus did good by word and deed, then suffered.  Is persecution due to fear and envy?

If we do find ourselves in trouble, especially for our faith, as Peter was, what should we do?  The reaction of the church was not violence, protests, etc, but to pray without ceasing, earnestly, and with others.  The prayer meeting is vital!

If we are in trouble, we can still have faith. Peter was so confident that he slept!  He was helped because he had experienced God's help before (Acts 5).  But the Church found it hard to believe!  We can be encouraged by that.  It should be pointed out that our faith is no guarantee of safety - James had been killed.

But there was a miracle!  But they were sceptical then, just as we would be today.  Indeed, God never does unnecessary miracle, but only for good reason.  As soon as the need passed, the angel left - Rhoda had to open her own door!  In particular, God is unlikely to grant us a miracle for OUR comfort, but so we can serve better.

He also waited until the last moment!  Why the delay?  God is concerned to grow our faith, so wants to test us.

God acted not directly, but by an angel.  Usually God acts through agents, and so also through us.  Angels are "ministering spirits" (Heb 1:14), sent for others, and so are we.

When Peter met the church he told them to go and tell it to James.  People are blessed and strengthened by the experience and testimony of others - we should share!  In particular, the church will never grow unless everyone shares what God has done for them.  It is not just for the preacher!  It should be natural for us to tell about God whenever we can - if he has done so much, how can we be silent (Acts 4:20).  Surely we are not ashamed of the gospel (Rom 1:16) - it is GOOD news!

Prof David T Williams
Theology (retired)

Monday, 12 September 2016

Christian Leadership Seminar

The Council of St Patrick-on-the-Hill at Hogsback held a Seminar on Sunday 11 September 2016 at 4pm at Hunterstoun. The purpose of the Seminar was for the Council to listen with humility to Christian leaders on Hogsback to hear what they think the problems are and what they suggest the church should do. The Council would then be in a position to decide what role it should play.

The meeting was attended by 20 concerned Hogsback christian citizens. It was a positive appraisal of the difficulties experienced by the citizens of Hogsback and their lack of unity. The inter-racial meeting represented a breath of fresh air. The vibe was optimistic throughout and it was a great get-together of black and white, in which we opened our hearts to each other.

Purpose of the meeting:
The chairman, Trevor Webster, called the meeting of Christian leaders on the Hogsback on behalf of St Patrick’s Chapel to hear what the problems were and to offer help if possible. He quoted 1 Corinthians 10 in which Paul wrote of the one body with many members. He emphasized that the church is one body and each member is important, each is different and each is equal and needs to work together in unity. But too often the body is divided. 

Issues and solutions
Many pressing issues where discussed namely that there is a great need for black and white community members to work and pray together for our village and actively working to built trust relationships. Our black community members need assistance with resolving poverty issues, Eskom, water and housing needs and we also desperately need a clinic. 

We would like to become a model for others to follow and can help in opening up communication channels and providing support and assistance to drive initiatives that can expedite the provision of electricity, housing and other much needed priorities and help giving those who do not have the means to communicate, a voice. It was suggested that St Patrick’s and Jikani could possibly work towards facilitating a leadership course for the Christian leaders in order to be able to deal with difficulties within the greater communities in Hogsback. 

The community needs unity with everybody working together. This meeting is a start and can become a Church Forum that supports the Task Team. The priority for the community of Hogsback is to help all those who do not have a roof over their heads. The Forum will work for all in Hogsback and take matters forward, if necessary.  Great things can happen if we give it to God and pray together as a village community. 

The meeting resolved to form a Christian Leaders Forum which would meet regularly at Hunterstoun. The next meeting will be held on Sunday 2 October 2016 at 4pm.