Monday, 18 December 2017

Sermon: Jesus is Lord

As always, David starts his sermon with a little ice breaker for daily living....

Reading for today:
Isiah 9:2-7,
John 1:1-18

A celebrity always attracts crowds - people flock to see royalty and presidents. And here we are at Christmas, with the greatest of all! And so few there! But how few today flock to him? Of course his situation was humble, a baby in the manger, but the angels announced the coming of "Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11). We battle to realise his Lordship, but perhaps we should battle more with how the Lord could become a baby - of course easy for the Lord of all! The Lordship of Jesus is the essence of Christianity. The message of Christmas is EMMANUEL, so a Lord with us!

He is Lord, but that does not mean that he is second rank, less than a king. "Lord" was the title of the emperor, and the kings, such as Herod, of second rank. The name of God in the Old Testament was translated by the word Lord in the Greek, and our Bibles follow that. But do you treat Jesus as second rank? Jesus is Lord - but why do we believe that? It is because

He is God, He is creator, He is redeemer

Jesus is God. This is seen by many miracles, of healing, feeding etc (eg Lk 5:8), by his claim (eg Jn 8:58), especially by his resurrection. But then Jesus shows us what God is like, a God of love.

Is He YOUR God? In the full sense? So obey and worship Him alone

But there could be a god without power ....

Jesus is creator. See Jn 1:3, Col 1:16 etc, and the resurrection shows his power over the life that he made. Then Jesus shows us what His power is like, he is the God who limits Himself for us. More importantly, is He YOUR creator? Is he creating and guiding your life, or are you trying to run it yourself?

But there could be a creator who is not a saviour

Jesus is redeemer. The angels, spoke of the coming of a saviour (Lk 2:11). He came to die for our salvation. Then the resurrection is power over death. He gives new life and Jesus shows us what new life is like, repentance and obedience. Most importantly, is He YOUR redeemer? Do you belong to Him?

Are you serious about his lordship? In the fourth century there was a big movement, like modern Jehovah's Witnesses, that said that Jesus was divine, but not absolute lord. A man rose up called Athanasius, who knew that only full God could save. If Jesus is not fully God there is no salvation. He was prepared to suffer for his Lord, and so for us - are we?

The wise men came to Jesus to worship (Matt 2:11), they recognised the LORD. What of us? And let us be serious, not just using the word without meaning (Lk 7:46)!

Sermon by Prof David T Williams

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)

Monday, 18 September 2017

St Bartholomew’s 160th Celebrations

I feel moved to share with the congregation of St Patrick’s the celebrations of St Bart’s, Alice, this week-end. St Bart’s is, in a way, our ‘mother church’ as when the Hobart Houghtons left St Bart’s to live in Innisfree, Hogsback, they built St Patrick’s. The two congregations used to picnic together at Hogsback at Christmas time. We were invited to participate in the celebrations.

1 Our Contribution to the celebrations:

Liz Thomas gave advice to the St Bart’s planning committee on how to manage their celebration which they implemented and were grateful; Derek Fivaz made a section of the crucifix that was used in the service; Carol Nieth created flower arrangements for the service; we lent our bishop’s chair for the Archbishop and I wrote a history of the church that was sold for funds and used by the bishops for their speeches. We enjoyed the functions and they appreciated the support of St Patrick’s.

2 The celebrations covered a wide range of activities:

Chief Burns-Ncamashe, who lives in the Chumie Valley, gave his subjects an impassioned speech on their history and later made a presentation to the Archbishop; Bishop Ebenezer Ntali spoke at the Gala Dinner on our heritage and the positives of the missionary legacy; Archbishop Thabo Makgoba preached on social justice and the need for principled stands at the colourful Communion Service. It was noticeable to see the mutually respectful relationship between the church and the Chief. The Archbishop explained that he had apologised to the chief for the damage done to his people by colonialism and the chief made a presentation to the church in appreciation for its moral stand.

3 Significance of the Church in local affairs:

The celebrations were fun and an impressive get-together of the diocese and interested partners. What was noteworthy was the respect for our heritage and the role of the missionaries; respect for conservation and the green lobby; harmony between the leadership of the church and that of the Rharabe Gwali tribe; and the sincerity and leadership of the Anglican Church in making principled stands for social justice and a more equal society. The Anglican Church leadership gives positive leadership and hope for our country and is not scared of criticising wrong doing.

We left the festivities with renewed hope for the church leadership of the Anglican Church and glad that we could have been part of the ceremonies. It was very valuable being part of the wider Christian church.

Trevor Webster
18 September 2017

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The art of practising the presence of God

Norma touched on something this Sunday in such a practical way that We need to come back to it and make it our own on an ongoing basis.

The Old Testament reading (Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28) was the story of Joseph which formed the backdrop to Norma's message. It presented a familiar situation of the old father, Jacob who send his favourite son to go and check on the rest of his sons, where family politics created an almost unimaginable cruel scenario of brothers plotting to kill the favourite brother, Joseph, by throwing him in a well. One brother, Reuben, tried to safe his him by convincing the others to rather sell Joseph as a slave to merchants, who then resold him in Egypt.

What a harsh situation. If we imagine for a moment what crossed Joseph's mind...
  • Where was God at this moment?
  • Does God really care?
  • How can He allow this to happen?
This brings us to the the art of practising the presence of God :
  • irrespective of circumstances
  • irrespective of one's health
  • irrespective of one's situation
An example to draw from is the life of Brother Laurence, a 17th  century monk (1614- 1691),  a Godly man, born in the eastern part of France. Due to extreme poverty of his times, he joined the army and fought in the Thirty year War. He lost his right arm, returned home and decided to join the Carmelite order of monks. He had no education and was allocated to the kitchen, where he repaired sandals for the rest of his life. Despite his lowly position in life, many people were drawn to him. What was his secret? He lived the art of practicing the presence of God.

James Goll  wrote a book called "The lost art of the practice of the presence of God" in which he states that if you hunger for more of GOD and less of yourself, these principles are for you.

New testament reading: Romans 10: 5-15 v 8 “ the Word is near you, your mouth and in your heart”

We need to take an inward journey,  proceeding into His presence.
  • Mary at the feet of Jesus, hair loose ( showing her vulnerability), opening herself up, to express her utmost love & respect for her Master.
  • Moses at the burning off ( vulnerable), in awe, waiting, the expectation
  • The Last Supper: that intimate meal with Jesus' closest friends....discussion time, clarifying "how would we know".....and then just talking.
In Brother Lawrence's own words: “this is not an easy task. But the benefit is great:
  • draws down God's grace abundantly,
  • leads one's soul the ever-present vision of God's love for us, as He often calls us " my beloved " through out the Bible
This is the road to intimacy ....daily, making time to interact with Jesus, whether you're getting up and looking at the sunrise, seeing God the creator displaying His artwork, or walking in your garden, hearing God speaking thru' His beauty. Maybe stopping with whatever you're doing, bowing in a moment of reverence and awe....respect for who God is.

Quietness of the soul -we need to wait on Him

If we yearn to be intimate with Christ, we must learn to be still. We can learn from the story of  John Ortberg consultation with his mentor, Dr Dallas Willard. John complained about the little change that he saw in his church. He asked how he could achieve a deeper level of spirituality in the church. He wanted to know what he should do, to excite and enthuse the people.

Dr Willard's answer was: “ You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God”

John was disappointed and pointed out that he was not asking about myself! He wanted to know what to do about the congregation. Dr Dallas stressed that the main thing you will give your congregation, just like the main thing you will give God, is the person you will become. If your soul is unhealthy, rushing around in “doing” lots of things, trying to achieve huge numbers......your soul will be unhealthy. So you rather should spend time with God....sit and listen to Him, without interrupting Him, or telling Him what He should do. Just being with God is enough.

The practice of the presence of God

  • Meditating on Scripture......that is a tool of quieting oneself . Here we are not talking of New Age meditation or Far East methods of being still, Concentrate rather on maybe on ONE verse, one word that speaks to you.....and let the Holy Spirit speak to you through that portion.When we let our minds dwell on Scripture, the Holy Spirit, who inspired all Scripture, interprets it in our hearts, and brings our spirit into harmony with God.
  • Be ready to deal with distractions....your mind begins to wander …..outside interruptions. What should we do? Madame Guyon suggested to focus on Jesus. Imagine you are sitting there with Him, looking into His eyes, waiting for Him to do the talking. 
Initially you may think this discipline of solitude, is a waste of time. However, the discipline of solitude is one of the most powerful disciplines in developing your prayer life. The more we practice this, the more we hear God's voice and the more we will be able to practice His presence!!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Sermon Sunday 17th July: How are we remembered?

There are many people, indeed most, that we do not know, but there are some people we have all heard of!  One of these is Mark, the writer of the second gospel. This was probably the first to be written; some suggest that it might have been Peter's gospel, Mark acting more as his scribe.  Apart from the gospel, there is very little that we know of Mark, but what we know can encourage us.

The first reference is an embarrassing incident (Mk 14:51), where most think that the young man who ran away naked was Mark himself.  Definitely an embarrassment, but then all the disciples should have been upset by Gethsemane - they all failed!  And that applies to us as well, as it was our sin that took Jesus there and to the cross.  Incidentally, it was right for Mark to leave his clothes, right to avoid unnecessary suffering.  If he had held he would have been arrested.  Is that us?            Do not be captured by possessions!  They can easily hinder our service, possess us and not we them.  "The love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim 6:10).

The second reference is another embarrassment (Acts 15:36).  Paul and Barnabas fell out over Mark, who had let them down.  He was then rejected by Paul, who quarrelled with Barnabas and separated from him.  There was a "sharp contention", surely wrong? And indeed Paul later specifically rejects contention (1 Cor 13:5).  Indeed later, Paul changed his mind (2 Tim 4:12).  We should be willing to admit mistakes.  We should just note that Mark's weakness was even after seeing the cross and a miracle (Acts 12:12).  Faith comes from more than even wonderful experiences such as this, but is God's gift to us.

After that experience, Mark was taken on by Barnabas, his uncle (Col 4:10).  Barnabas' name means "son of encouragement", and he lived up to it.  We should encourage our children, and especially our children in the Lord, seeking to build them up, and accepting that all fail from time to time.  The Holy Spirit, the comforter, works through us.

Mark was one who knew failure - like each of us, but then, like all of us, including Paul, found the power of Christ over weakness (2 Cor 12:9).

Mark then became a great disciple, as a great helper!  He was not one of the twelve, but did a wonderful service.  Not all are called to lead, not all are called to preach; the church is a "body" (1 Cor 12:4f), made up of people with many different inter-relating ministries.  Mark found his ministry in writing, and as such is still helping us and the Church as a whole.

In that he was guided by the Holy Spirit in inspiration.  He left a legacy and possibly even more; there is a tradition that he was the originator of the Coptic church, very strong in Egypt and surrounding countries.

How are we remembered?

Prof David T Williams

Monday, 19 June 2017

Sermon Sunday 18 June: Day of touble

Reading: Psalm 27
Trouble is one of the facts of life - how do we deal with it?

 The Book of Psalms resonates with experience, so can help us to deal with it; it is a help in worship and life. It is good to share your testimony, so that your experience can help others! David was one who experienced a life of blessing, elevated from being a shepherd to a king. But his life was also full of trouble, being pursued by king Saul for a long time, and having a couple of rebellions, one led by his own son, who was killed.

He was often afraid, often in trouble. And much was his own fault; the results of his sin with Bathsheba were far-reaching! Are you, like David, afraid? He had lots of reasons! Many do not apply to us, but there are many others. Of what are you afraid? The psalm gives confidence, but is it wishful thinking? Is it unrealistic? What was David's solution (Ps 27:4)?

The presence of God, who does help us to deal with our troubles, both in the immediate, but also in the gift of eternal life, when all troubles are past. David rested in the ultimate good. When we know the reality of God, all else loses significance. Paul could speak of his troubles, far more than most of our's (see 2 Cor 11:23f) as light and momentary (2 Cor 4:17)!

 As Christians, this is fulfilled in Jesus, who facilitates the presence of God with us. The Psalm gives us three results of this.

  •  Hear my voice (Ps 27:7). We can tell him our trouble. Importantly we can know that God hears - we can relate to Him through Jesus. So especially in trouble, do not forget to pray. Turn not your servant away (Ps 27:9 (RSV)); 
  • We can know that God is with us. Such assurance is not there in the OT, but we are forgiven - through Jesus. But although God gives us access to Him, do not exclude yourself! 
  • Teach me your way (Ps 27:11) - so we may not make mistakes and cause trouble - much is our own fault! We can know the way - through Jesus (Jn 14:6), not just of final salvation, but of immediate need. Do not think that you know better than God! The Bible often promises blessing, but in obedience (see Deut 5:32-3). 
 We can share David's relief, we WILL know his goodness (Ps 27:13). Firstly in the land of the living, as all troubles overcome in death and eternal life, AND in the land of the living - thank him for many blessings now Worth waiting for? (Ps 27:14) INDEED! And he gives strength now

Friday, 2 June 2017

Sermon: How to deal with a problem in one's life? Colin Chambers

We were very blessed to have Colin Chambers with us last Sunday. His message was truly inspiring and we will remember the one thing that he told us to: Do what Jesus tells you to do!!!

He took John 20:30-31 as a text, with the three key words:
  • SIGNS (miracles) which point to who Jesus is. 
  • BELIEVE in Jesus
  • LIFE- the result of believing in Jesus.
I loved the way that he took us through the miracles Jesus performed as recorded by John, pointing out that, apart from Him walking on water and calming the storm, they were all a blending of the Divine and the human. People were told to do something when Jesus performed the miracles.

Water to wine. They had to fill the jars with water, which they did and Jesus turned it to wine.

The lame man who had not walked for 38 years had to pick up his mat and walk. He did it, his legs were healed and he now carried what had carried him for 38 years.

The feeding of the 5000 plus people. They were told to sit on the grass - those who were seated received the multiplied bread and fish.

The man born blind - Jesus made clay from dust and His spittle and put it on the man's sightless eye sockets (Colin's thought, Jesus created eyes for him). He then had to go and wash his face in the Pool of Siloam which he did and went home seeing.

How to deal with a problem in one's life?

Colin closed by looking at the raising of Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:17-44)
  • The problem - a dead brother
  • The answer to the problem - resurrection and life
  • Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life.
In other words whatever your problem may be - Jesus is the answer or can provide the answer. we have to identify the problem and what the answer is and accept that Jesus is or can provide the answer.

BUT - a key, "do you believe it ?". Do you believe that Jesus is or can provide the answer.

Then - "Where is it". Where is the root of the problem (could be fear, jealousy, greed, basically whatever). This is important to not only identify the problem, but to be ruthlessly honest and identify the real cause of the problem.

Then - "Roll away the stone". Expose the problem, the root and the cause to Jesus (in candid prayer), and invite Jesus to take over and deal with it.

Jesus brought life out of death - completely dealt with and removed the problem. But they had to roll away the stone and uncover the problem to Jesus. Another blending of the Divine and the human. And finally, Jesus gave life, but they had to give liberty, because Lazarus was bound him up in cloth. So they had to DO something.

So, what we took from Colin's sermon is that we must not just ask for miracles and expect God to do His thing, we also have to be prepared to Do something!!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Sunday sermon: The road to Emmaus

Reading:Luke 24:13-35
Sermon by David Williams 

The story of the appearance of Jesus to the two on the way to Emmaus strikes me as a clear indication of the truth of the resurrection - there is just no reason to invent such a story. More than that it is a revelation to ordinary people; God is no respecter of persons (1 Cor 1:26).  Not only does he reveal to ordinary people but he also witnesses through the lowly.  What however does matter is that they were disciples, wanting to learn of Jesus.

The two had been stimulated by events of the previous days, but Jesus also opened the scriptures.  Do we take the trouble to read them? This is essential for us as well if Jesus used them. However, as now, they needed interpreting.  Significantly, as Jesus was explaining, their hearts burned - was this the Spirit? We will never understand without him!

Their perception of Jesus was of a prophet and doer of good (Lk 24:19), so they needed more.  Jesus rather said that he had to suffer.  This only really makes sense if he is the son of God, dying for us to atone for sins.  When they got to Emmaus they invited him in, wanting to continue.  Incidentally, this shows the value of hospitality (Heb 13:2).  More seriously, have we invited Jesus into our lives?

Then came the experience of Jesus when they saw who he actually was.  Their eyes were opened; God has to act if people are to understand - the best we can do is to PRAY!  Jesus was recognised in breaking of bread, a familiar act - may we perceive him as we come to the table.  He then vanished from their sight, as he did in other experiences.  He is usually hidden from us.

Not surprisingly after such an experience, they wanted to share it and rushed back to tell others.  They could not keep it to themselves.  What they wanted to do was to tell the central Christian truth


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Liz Thomas Inducted as our resident priest

We were very blessed last Sunday when Liz Thomas was inducted as our resident priest at our little chapel by archbishop Ebenezer Ntlali !! She has been serving our community since Margaret has left with gentleness and consideration. We are all happy to know that she is know Official!!

For all the rest of the videos and photos, see here:

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Sermon Sunday 26 February: Is life easy?

This Sunday Norma talked to us about this painful question. She asked us to reflect on.....
  • Is life easy in SA?
  • Is life easy for us, here in Hogsback?
She related personal stories from her childhood when despite her parents severe health challenges , her father still prayed: "Thank you Father, that You are so good to us......."

So how did he manage that?  Matt 7:24-27 give us the answer.

We know storms here on the mountain: broken trees blocking roads, blocking the pass, blocked gutters, hail that destroy gardens, Tyume tributaries flooding their banks, no electricity.....

Jesus tells the story of a house that had been exposed to such a storm where the rain lashed down and the stream rose while the wind blew against the the house. Yet, it did not give way. Why? It was built on a rock......THE ROCK.

This is the secret that Jesus shared with the crowds on the side of the mountain so many years ago. He wants to share this with us this morning. What does He say?
  1.  Build on the rock .......
    Choose your foundation carefully
    Build in good times, while the sun shines and the plaster can dry completely
    In other words: Build in time, don't wait till life becomes difficult, tight, full of worries and anxiety. Build in time.....

  2. Practice daily to withstand hardship
    Doing something over 6 weeks, daily, becomes a natural habit
    If not in practice, hardships will push you over.

Norma shared an anecdote from her personal life: When she was visiting her kids in Denmark last August, Troy, her grandson, got very sick with chickenpox. With his low resistance and immune deficiency, it became an overwhelming infection. As young as he is (3 years old) he asked his father: " Daddy pray for Troy......I am not feeling well"

Because as a family they know where their strength and power times when life is at its worst, when they are in a critical moment, they know to who & where to turn to.

       3. Stay in touch with the Builder, who maintains everything.....
           walls, roof, Windows foundations

Don't become slack on maintenance. You may think that you have a smart house.....your faith is fine because years ago you gave your life to God......but, it is not enough when the storms come today.

Your maintenance must be in place. Stay in regular touch with the Builder.

Do we choose hardship, suffering, difficult times? Of course not. But why then does God allow these things to happen to us?

Rom. 5: 3 - 4
"....we know that suffering produces perseverance,
perseverance, character
And character hope"

Who is speaking here ? Paul
Does he know what he's referring to? Indeed he does!! He was a man that knows hardship, persecution, suffering .....
  • He was unjustly charged with treason. Acts 18:13
  • Jews tried to dis-credit him...... Acts 21: 28-29
  • He was shipwrecked
  • He was beaten
  • He was imprisoned in Rome

He had built in time, on the rock.
He had practiced his faith
He was daily in touch with his Builder

Psalm 1:
The tree that is planted next to the stream ( the water source, the life- giving source)
That tree - grew
- bore fruit
- flourished

Whether there were droughts, hail, storms

Are you planted, built.....on a rock? Then even if life is not easy, you will be safe! 

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a six week time of reflection and repentance in preparation for Easter. The simple service includes a reading and prayers. The service will provide the opportunity for individuals to have the sign of the cross marked on their forehead in ash as a poignant reminder of our mortality.
'Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return'.

We will also have a time of silent thanksgiving for the life of Lyn and prayers for the family. You are welcome to come to this short service and to participate in whatever way you feel comfortable with.
Time 5pm at St Patrick's Chapel

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Neglecting to pray

When did you last pray for Zuma? Or, for that matter RSA, or for the USA with its new president? But the Bible tells us clearly that we should!  Is there nothing that we can do about the big issues - are they beyond us?  We can, and should, pray.

But the little things? What do you do when things are not what you want?  What do you do when we feel that others are wrong?  Do you protest, complain, or worse?  Samuel prayed!

The people of Israel had made a big mistake in asking for a king - they wanted to be like everybody else. But God did not just reject them, and God did not just undo the mistake. God brought good out of the mistake.  An early church father said that God even did that for the first sin, because it gave us Jesus - O felix culpa! (o fortunate sin!  And Samuel prayed!

Do we think that prayer does not matter? Is that what we really think?  Read 2 Chron 7:14, and notice the first word IF   But lack of prayer is SIN

Sin against God - He tells us to pray - do we obey?  Prayerlessness indicates that he is not fully our Lord, which is the basic sin

Sin against others.  if we do not pray, we give less than the best to them

Sin against ourselves. prayerlessness is belittling a blessing.  I have so often seen God blessing in response to prayer.  It is doing and accepting what is not the best.  It results in slowing our spiritual growth.

Even though what he wanted did not happen, Samuel did not cease praying.  God had not answered his prayer?  It was the people who did wrong - they had free will.  He had not sinned, but would if he stopped.

Samuel did not only pray, but also acted. He instructed the people.  He could do this BECAUSE he prayed, and was in touch with God's will.

Do we sin in prayerlessness? Are we concerned for RSA, for the world?  And for our church. We will never see blessing in our church until ....

Prof David T Williams
Theology (retired)

Monday, 16 January 2017

Sermon Sunday 15th January-Faith, hope and love

Our reading for today: 1 Corinthians 13

Do you have a favourite Bible chapter?  Many would choose 1 Corinthians 13.  It concludes with the great three, faith hope and love.

We remember these particularly at this time of Christmas and New Year
            God so loved that He sent His Son
            Do you have hope for a new year?
            Thanks for the rain - God is faithful

The season is a time of change, and we are reminded that we are temporary residents, like Abraham.  We then look for what abides, which must come from the God who is eternal (Mal 3:6).  See 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Faith must be prior, because we are saved through faith. Salvation is essential for hope or love.  Salvation rests on God's faithfulness (Rom 4:20, Heb 11).  There is no other way (Jn 14:6).  Salvation is a GIFT, because He loved us.

So we should be faithful, and reflect what God is like.  Are we reliable?

Hope rests on salvation, so on faith, so on love (Rom 5:3). It is not presumption but confidence.  We have a hope for future, for us and the world, if we are in Christ.  But sadly, so many people ignore death and end of world - they have no hope

So God has a hope, just as we hope for our children. What do you most hope for them?  for real saving faith!

Love of God is shown in incomprehensible, unmerited grace.  Why should he save us?  One reason is that He made us, and so loves like a mother.
So we should love - this is not just liking.  We have love for God shown in seeking to please Him, and for others, in giving (love = charity), not just in the material sense.

Greatest of these is love, because God IS love (1 Jn 4:10).  Can we reflect this in what we are in our salvation?  The attraction of the early Church was the visible love for each other that they showed.

Prof David T Williams
Theology (retired)