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