Newsletter 31 July 2020 | EIGHT certainties in life

EIGHT certainties in life

How we embrace this season of uncertainty will not only build character but will reveal character. If we continue to seek scapegoats and look for conspiracies, we will miss the greatest opportunity of our generation to grow and build capacity.

COVID-19 entered our lives like an uninvited guest and has truly overstayed her welcome. I have found though, that those who saw this as an opportunity to grow, to build capacity, were surprised by what COVID-19 had to offer. Most who encountered the virus in one form or another realised that it reminds us of life, not death and that every challenge the virus presented, gave us an opportunity to reflect the eternal hope in Jesus Christ. It was like someone entered our lives and dusted our hearts. For those who were willing to fix their eyes upon Jesus, COVID-19 showed us what truly matters
COVID-19 presented us with EIGHT certainties in life, things we can expect to face in one form or another, and how we can use them as capacity builders for stamina.

Faint not in times of SILENCE: LISTEN!
Psalm 46:10: He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
It is in the times of revelation that we need to obey and the times of silence that we need to listen. We often live within a spiritual paradox that views times of silence as times of being abandoned instead of times of intimacy. Loneliness refers to a state in which you are unhappy about being alone. Solitude, however, is an aloneness in which you find strength. Christ often pursued solitude in order to spend time with the Father (John 16:32: “A time is coming… when you will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me”). By using His times of solitude wisely, Jesus was able to use the times of isolation as opportunities to prepare Himself for the cross ahead.

Faint not in times of LACK: TRUST!
Psalm 31:14: But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
One of the silent predicaments of our present time is for Christians to discern between faith and trust. These two virtues are often confused: many who proclaim a FAITH in an omnipotent, spectacular God do not TRUST in His involvement or abilities, setting Him aside as an impotent, spectator God. On the journey of faith, we should not only express the belief that God is sovereign, we should act like He is still in control of our lives, our nations, our finances, and our families. FAITH is believing in God. TRUST is believing the God we believe in.

Faint not in times of ABUNDANCE: SHARE!
2 Corinthians 8:13: “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.”
If we have had enough in this season of despair, we need to guard our hearts against preserving and hoarding. Abundance can be as incapacitating as poverty if approached incorrectly. If you are blessed with more than your immediate need – share! According to Scripture, God’s economic guidelines promote neither wealth nor poverty. The Bible promotes:
CONTENTMENT (Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content”),
GENEROSITY (2 Corinthians 9:11: “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion”)
• and EQUALITY (2 Corinthians 8:13: “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality”).
• These are the three pillars of abundance that should be our guidelines in building capacity.

Faint not in times of WAITING: ENDURE!
Psalm 37:7: Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him.
A popular tongue-in-cheek poster reads as follows: “Patience is such a waste of time.” At first, this statement seems to contradict James’ instruction to be patient and to stand firm. But, as with most things in life, our perceptions are mostly determined by our definitions. If we define patience as “waiting”, it is indeed a waste of time. But when patience is understood in a true Biblical context, as “the position of endurance under difficult circumstances”, it becomes the sustaining force enabling perseverance in the face of delay. The journey of faith will require this virtue in large quantities and at frequent intervals.

Faint not in times of DISAPPOINTMENT: REMEMBER!
Psalm 77:11: I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
No matter how many challenges we face: Remember Jesus. Call to remembrance the faithfulness of the Lord. The fact that you can read this means you still have eyes to see, a brain to comprehend, a voice to pray and a heart to love. Psalm 77 is clearly divided into two parts; Depression and Victory, and the only action that divides the two is the action of verse 1: “But I will remember…” David speaks very specifically of how his soul refused to be comforted and how he fell into a pit of despair, depression and hopelessness. But then comes a clear change in his spirit when he chooses to remember — he makes an intentional decision, he says, “But I will remember”. Make your life a life of choosing to remember. Choose to remember the goodness of a Saviour.

Faint not in times of FAILURE: RISE!
Proverbs 24:16: For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
One of the biggest challenges we all face is the challenge of “image maintenance”. We all work extremely hard to maintain the perceptions other people have of us – we do this more than working on who we really are. Once the perception of who we are is dented, we experience failure. The response is therefore to find our identity in Christ: How He sees us and how we find our righteousness in Him, not in success or failure as determined by others. We will make mistakes in life. This is a given! Faint not in times of failure. This we know — Rise! Not because we are perfect but because we are in Christ.

Faint not in times of SADNESS: HOPE!
Psalm 39:7: “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”
No matter what life might throw at us, we all have this blessed assurance that, even though we might be depressed, saddened, disappointed, rejected or isolated by man, we will never be abandoned by God. Nothing, not “trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword can separate us from a loving God… nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is already found in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). This is a powerful Scripture to remember in times of sadness – it is not the promise of a fallible human being, but the words of One who has proven His faithfulness by dying on the cross. Jesus is loyal in times of loneliness not because He said so, but because He proved so. This allows us to have hope in our times of sadness: hope in the knowledge that nothing will separate us from the love of God, and hope in the promise that Jesus will always be with us, to the “very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19).

Faint not in times of VICTORY: STAY HUMBLE!
James 4:6: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.”
A big challenge in life is not to remain faithful in our times of defeat but to remain humble in our times of victory. Nowhere in Scripture do we read that the Lord despises those who fail, scorns those who makes mistakes, or abandons those who doubt. But we do read that the Lord opposes the proud. Be careful how you receive, acknowledge and report your success. Give God the glory, always.
How we embrace this season of uncertainty will not only build character but will reveal character. If we continue to seek scapegoats and look for conspiracies, we will miss the greatest opportunity of our generation to grow and build capacity.

Galatians 6:9-10 KJV: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

By Mike Burnard


To all frontline health-care heroes and sheroes of our St John’s family – how do we put into words our love, admiration and gratitude for all that you do each and every day – and especially now on the frontlines of battling this coronavirus disease – Covid 19 that is spreading rapidly throughout our city, our province and country.

Bless you and thank you for your warrior hearts – for selflessly giving of yourselves day after day – as you put yourselves in the path of this virus.

Thank you for your courage, commitment and servant hearts and be assured that we hold each one of you in our prayers. We pray for the strength, the power, the love, joy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be yours – today and always.

We know that God is working through each one of you – from our doctors & nurses to the radiologists, the pharmacists, social workers, pathologists, physios and carers. You are the hands and the feet of our loving God caring for a hurting world.

And we know too that your families are sacrificing as well – and so as your family of sisters and brothers in Christ we want to pray for each of you by name. To lift you before our Heavenly Father to be with you and help you through whatever comes your way.

Know that even when the situation feels bleak or if the anxiety, pain and fear feels too much to bear, or you are simply feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, know that God is with each one of you, holding you, protecting you and giving you what you need to carry on as you continue serving through your selfless gifts of service to those in your care. (Matt 10:42)

For the next few weeks we will be praying for our heroes and sheroes by name and we encourage all to participate and be angel voices lifting them in prayer.

Below are some guidelines as well as an example of a prayer that can be used – or you can pray it to start your prayer time and allow the Holy Spirit to direct you and pray for you when you have no words.

How to Pray for Healthcare Professionals:

Consider the following topics suggested by long-time nurse Anika Magwood:

Wisdom : In diagnosing and serving patients, but also in recognising the hand of God, the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Strength: Physical endurance and stamina, but also as a united front. “Everybody is trying to do their very best and as a result, personalities will clash and people’s feelings get hurt.”
Fear : Of getting sick, of contaminating their families. This is true even outside of a season of crisis. “Pray they would have an assurance of the protection of God upon them and their families as they interact.”
Focus : That health-care workers would keep their hearts, minds steadfast on Jesus.

Loving God, we place into your care all our healthcare heroes and sheroes, their families and loved ones;
May they know our deep gratitude and admiration for all they are doing.
Give them courage of heart and strength of mind and body.
Keep them safe from harm – as they selflessly give of themselves to heal and help those affected by Covid-19. God of all consolation may they know your protection and peace;
Bless them in these challenging days and may we always find our rest in You.
Amen


Michelle Werth

PRAY FOR OUR PEOPLE

If you want to add an individual name into this prayer – the following are the names of our Frontline Heroes & Sheroes:

In closing may I share a portion of one of Bishop Eric’s prayer, called God of Surprises:


God of surprises, God of the journey,
open me to;
new horizons, boldness and creativity and a
willingness to launch into the deep.

God of surprises, God of the journey,
open me to;
Fresh shafts of light, deeper faith and trust, new
inspiration, and the courage to keep journeying with You.

God of surprises, God of the journey,
Open me to;
Your grace that I may walk as Jesus walked and be
A pilgrim always.
Amen.


What Does The Bible Say?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

Apostle Paul suggests, in Romans (12:1), that the very best way in which we can honour and worship God is by offering ourselves as a “living sacrifice to Him” in service and life.

We fully realise that in the midst of the current Covid pandemic that this might appear to be a cerebral exercise, sending out information for you to fill in even though we can’t currently have business as usual, so to speak, at St John’s.

But it is good for us to think about this and to prepare for the times ahead when we will reopen. Maybe you have also had time to pray and discern a new direction for your own ministry offering or acts of service.

As you well know there are so many areas here at St John’s where you can exercise your gifts and talents and you will find a list of suggestions on one of the pages of the Dedicated Giving form that is attached to this email circular.

Pray faithfully and fervently before Jesus for direction on how you should respond to this annual appeal for a new commitment. There is much to be done in our community and beyond to ensure that the Gospel imperative, to bring all to knowledge of Jesus Christ, is fulfilled within our ministry as a Worshipping Community.

If you need help in filling out your forms, or advice on where your talents and gifts could best be used, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the pastoral team.

By making a monthly, weekly or annual contribution to the work of St John’s you will be investing in God’s own work here on earth.

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)

Contact Allan at allan@stjohnswalmer.org.za if you do not have a pledge number.


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



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.