Newsletter 17 July 2020 | Missing The Touch.

MISSING THE TOUCH
 
This past week has brought back the inevitable realisation that the Covid-19 pandemic is coming closer and closer to us. It is no longer out there or in China or Italy – it’s now right here. On Wednesday I went to a Funeral Home to commit two Anglicans so that they could be cremated, one a St John’s Parishioner and one from Port Alfred. The services were 30 minutes apart.
 
Two things came to mind: Firstly, perhaps we don’t yet fully understand the emotional and psychological scarring of this pandemic when people pass into Glory – alone. For the families and for those in the final hours before passing. That is why it has been termed the Lonely Virus. Secondly, not one of the family members could be present at their deathbed or viewing their loved one at a funeral home (one of the deceased was Covid linked).
 
The inability to touch – lack of physical contact — is a great loss. We are now reduced to bows, hand waves or facial gestures via an electronic linkup or through a window of a Frail Care Centre (for those fortunate enough).
 
It is what Canon J John in a recent blog called ‘touch deficiency’.

This is what J John writes: Although we take touch for granted, it is extraordinarily powerful and therapeutic. Medical science has confirmed how vital touch is for babies, yet that importance continues throughout our life.

Touch has been shown to improve our immune system, reduce pain, decrease blood pressure and alleviate depression.

Touch conveys intimacy and can often say more than words. Touch can carry different meanings too: comfort, warning, rebuke or love.

Touch shows the importance of physical contact; that we can say of some emotional event that we were ‘touched’ by it.

On almost every page of the Gospels we read of some aspect of physical contact. The baby Jesus is wrapped in cloths and put in a manger. As an adult, Jesus bathes feet and heals by touch.
 
Ultimately, Jesus is betrayed by a kiss, killed by physical force and carried away into a grave. When raised from the dead, Jesus confirms that he is no vision or ghost by allowing himself to be touched by his disciples. Remembering this, the apostle John wrote, ‘We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands’ (1 John 1:1 NLT).
In Jesus, the remote and untouchable God becomes literally someone who is at hand.

The physical emphasis of Christianity continues into the church. It’s here in the new covenant that Jesus created that which focuses not on a form of words, but on the very physical elements of bread and wine. It’s here in baptisms and in the laying on of hands for healing. It’s here in greeting one another ‘with a holy kiss’ (Romans 16:16; 2 Corinthians 13:12) or whatever modern form we find culturally appropriate.

Touch is valuable. It’s a fascinating thought that, in Jesus, human beings are able to touch the God who loves us so much that he put on flesh and became one of us.
 
So, if you are suffering ‘touch deficiency’ at the moment, remember that God understands that need. When ‘this is all over’ may we all be those who value touch a little bit more and are more ready to share it with those who need it and receive it. And, in the meantime, to use a phrase that can be a cliché but is in fact a reality, may we all know something of God’s touch at this time.

May you know the Comforter’s embrace at this time.
 
This is real. Stay safe.

Mark Derry

What Does The Bible Say?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

How does the New Testament encourage us to partner in the spread of the Gospel?

Unlike the teaching and commandments of the Old Testament Law, the New Testament teaches that we give in response to God’s incredible love towards us. The New Testament suggests that such love deserves our cheerful, willing, affectionate and generous giving from our abundance.

We are taught through Holy Scripture to give from what we have and not from what we do not have.

Committing to a planned and ordered Dedicated Giving programme, even in this Covid time, enables the parish to budget carefully and efficiently.

If you have not yet had a chance to fill in the online forms, please would you do so. The links to these forms are below. If you would like a hard copy, please contact Debbie at admin@stjohnswalmer,org.za or WhatsApp 083 454 0479.

To God be the glory!

Your time and talents
Please click on this link and fill in the areas where you would like to be involved as well as the ministries you are already involved in.
https://stjohnswalmer.churchcenter.com/people/forms/141799

Your pledges
This link is regarding your pledges and is treated as confidential. You will be allocated a unique ID number to use on all future tithes, payments and donations to St John’s. This ID number is a reference number to be used instead of your name.
Google Forms link for pledges:
https://forms.gle/e5tkcoqjXFFR3K9X7


FOOD 4 THE NEEDY OUTREACH

Our Sandwiches Project has operated for 12 full weeks, in which time we have collected and distributed a total of 5 146 loaves of sandwiches, which equates to 51 460 double-sliced sandwiches.

510 of the loaves were bought using funds donated in response to the Food4Needy Campaign.

While the sandwiches constitute the bulk of donations, we have a number of donors who donate fruit and vegetables.

We started recording the attendance at the soup kitchen on a daily basis from the beginning of week six in order to assist us in planning. It needs to be borne in mind that food collected from the soup kitchen is generally taken home to feed family members. Consequently, the number of people being fed is considerably greater than the numbers recorded.

In week 9, in June, the weekly attendance at the soup kitchen, run by field worker Pinkie Libala and her team, peaked at 1 014, compared to 654 in week 8. This is probably due to two factors, grant money running out and increased numbers on Youth Day, when additional food was supplied. It has now returned to levels pre-Easter being about 100 recipients a day or about 500 a week.

Youth Day saw 147 adults and 60 children attending the soup kitchen. The fruit donated by Food Lovers’ Market, as well as a further six pockets of oranges and a few packets of apples received from other donors on the day were handed out. In addition, attendees received a tin of pilchards, a bag of porridge, Niknaks chips and a mask each.

According to co-ordinator Jane Purchase, 34 people (31 parishioners and 3 friends of St John’s) have offered their services at various stages to spread the loaves of bread that we buy on a bi-weekly basis.

This is over and above the sandwiches already being done by teams throughout our area each week day.

These volunteers have been wonderfully supportive, with 60% of the group donating additional loaves in their own right, while the balance are only too happy to be able to contribute to the cause of feeding the needy in a practical way. Approximately half of the group are in the 70+ age group. They generally get 5 loaves to spread at any one time, with a few brave folks taking on 10 loaves.

With the decline in the numbers at the soup kitchen since week 9, we have undertaken to shift some of the sandwiches to assist in feeding the 120 matrics at Walmer High who are at school till 4.30pm each day in order to complete the school year. The Dept of Education school feeding scheme supplies all learners in poorly resourced schools with a meal in the morning but not this afternoon. In fact, Walmer High was closed on Monday and Tuesday this week due to Covid cases, so we only resumed their sandwich drop off from Wednesday.
We have received a number of donations of clothing, bedding and masks. A Mill Park friend of St John’s has donated sleeping bags made from sheeting disposed of by hospitals, other recycled materials and fleece fabric. She has also started making warm winter blankets using fleece fabric and knitted and crocheted squares.

The Centre of Concern has also donated bedding (blankets, duvets and pillows) to the plight of the patients at Dora Nginza Hospital, through our neighbour parish St Saviour’s, many of whom are literally being covered with newspapers in order to keep warm, due to a lack of resources and overwhelmed staff.

Belinda Jordan also continues to co-ordinate our mask making and distribution project to indigent households.


Petro will explain how to install this on your smartphone.
Click here to watch.


Do you have a sewing machine?

Would you like to help to make face masks?
St John’s has partnered with Masks for PE and is encouraging people to make masks to give away in needy areas.
Wearing face masks when out and about is mandatory. Everyone needs at least 2. That’s a lot of masks!
Masks for PE makes it very easy for people to help.
They supply packs with enough pre-cut fabric for 30 masks, thread, fabric ties and instructions.
Finished masks will be packaged along with instructions in English and isiXhosa as to how to wear them safely and how to care for them.
Masks will be distributed at our Fountain Road Soup Kitchen in Ggebera and the Centre of Concern.

Belinda and Mike Jordan will be co-ordinating this project for St John’s.
Contact Belinda on 083 447 3900 if you want to start sewing and to arrange for delivery and collection.


Please Whatsapp Debbie (083 454 0479) to arrange collection.


Dedicated Giving
We would appreciate it if you could deposit your dedicated giving contributions via EFT into our bank acount:
Standard Bank
Branch Code: 050417
A/C Name: St John the Baptist Church
A/C Number: 080281206

(Please make sure your name & reference is included)


Building is closed but “church” is open.
Follow our sermon teachings online this Sunday.
Go to our website or facebook page to listen to Sunday’s sermon.

Click on the links:
St John’s Sermons
St John’s Facebook page
www.stjohnswalmer.org.za


Inviting all TEENS to join us on a ZOOM meeting today @ 5PM.
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/2253956501?pwd=YlFIU00zVDBUbWlYa1IvaVlEc1NkZz09

Inviting all Children’s Church kids to a Zoom meeting this Sunday @ 10am!
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/2253956501?pwd=YlFIU00zVDBUbWlYa1IvaVlEc1NkZz09

Inviting all TEENS to a Teen Church Zoom meeting this Sunday @ 10:30am!
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/2253956501?pwd=YlFIU00zVDBUbWlYa1IvaVlEc1NkZz09


Please contact Andrew 083 546 2451
or Petro 072 663 9774 should you have any questions or require assistance with ZOOM.


General Notice
Please be aware that the recycling area is currently closed until further notice.