Saturday, May 28, 2011

Xavier Laubscher Comrades Number 22111.

Xavier (on the left) has cycled 1000 km from Johannesburg . He will run the 90km Comrades Marathon tomorrow. AND THEN ... He will RUN back to Johannesburg over the next 10 days.

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Hard Men

This group of cyclists rode 1300 km from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg and tomorrow will run the 90km Comrades Marathon from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lievland Music Festival

I am at a music festival entitled "What we will be doing on a Sunday afternoon". It requires us to sit on the grass next to a dam on a Stellenbosch wine farm and listen to local bands play music.

Jenny and I are here to listen to Nomadic Orchestra - our daughter Jessica's boyfriend Greg plays guitar for this Balkan style band. So we will lie here making the most of a lazy Sunday afternoon's relaxation.

Chalk it up to another hard day in Africa.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Call of God

I am at the Synod of the Queenstown District, which is meeting at the E. N. Baartman Methodist Church in East London.

Bishop Mongamele Noqayi reminded us that we can be refreshed by our Christian faith if we are willing to hear the Divine Call. This is call is to "whosoever" - and especially to the weary, the outcast, the poor. This comforts those who struggle, and challenges those who live as if God has no moral call on our lives.

The Bishop noted that while we must criticise the lack of service delivery in our country - we as a church must look to our own delivery. We must move from our old ways into renewal. Bishop Noqayi bluntly warned those circuits that refused to welcome women ministers "to hear God's call to come and be saved."

He concluded with the reminder that all are invited to the Lord's feast: "All in Africa; all in South Africa; all classes, all races, all sexual orientations, all are welcome."
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Those Roots!

Trees are really difficult to remove!

This tree is becoming a problem: it intrudes into the driveway to my home. It also is growing into the sewerage pipes of the neighbor and causing problems with his home’s foundations. So it is coming down.
Phase one was relatively simple : cut off all the branches and take them away. More difficult is getting the tree stump out – you see it has roots! And they help the tree to stubbornly cling to the ground.
Step one : Dig around the base to try to cut the roots.
Step two: Cut around the base to try to weaken its base.
Step three: Attach a rope to the bakkie and pull ...
OK back to step one!!!

And this led me to thinking about my life: as I look back there have been moments when I felt like the ground was being dug away from under me; it felt as if I was being cut into pieces by the many different demands made on my time and energy; it felt as if I was being pulled over by the pressures and responsibilities of my various commitments. But I have been able to keep going because of my roots.

I am rooted in my relationship with Jesus Christ. This is found in reading widely and rigorously- drawing on the reflections of people I agree with, and people who fundamentally disturb me. This is found in the worship of my God – sometimes with other people, and sometimes on my own. This is found in spending time with people who follow the ways of Jesus – some of whom are like me, and some of whom differ completely from anything I believe and do.

It is my roots in my Christian walk, nourished by the Spirit of God, which has kept me married, and kept me fathering my daughters, and kept me in the service of the Methodist Church, and kept me faithful to people who have asked for my help. Without these roots I will fall over.

And so I pray that my Creator will renew my roots for another day of this adventure called life.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Finding Each Other

Seminarians from different traditions - Anglicans, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Evangelical Non-conformists ... and a bunch of University academics: all worshipped together this evening as part of the Pietermaritzburg Ecumenical Cluster.

Dr Simanga Kumalo, head of the UKZN School of Religion, welcomed us and reminded us that tonight's worship was an act of protest against our division.

And we sang together; and danced togethe; and prayed together; because despite our differences we do belong together as Christ-followers.
Pray that those who follow Jesus will find unity more attractive than division.

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

An Attractive Faith

There are some religious people who really annoy me!
These are the people who act as if they alone are right - and anyone who does not see life their way is wrong! These are the people who claim that the way they read their religious text is the only correct interpretation. These are the people who take great pride in stating what is right and wrong - as if they know the mind of God. Their smug self-righteousness is repellent.

St. Paul suggests that our presence should inspire people to thank God. "So they glorified God because of me." (Galatians 1:24)

I pray that my faith practice might make me attractive and not repellent.
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Saturday, May 07, 2011

In The Shark Tank

I am in Durban at the Absa Stadium to watch a Super Rugby match between the Sharks and the Brumbies.

This is a lot of firsts for me: first time here; first live rugby this season; and first time supporting the Sharks (but I will support any team that plays against Australians!).

Bring on the players!
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Monday, May 02, 2011

A Symbol has Died.

The headline news this evening - Osama bin Laden was killed by United States soldiers in Pakistan.

Clearly this is good news to the American people. There has been a bitter taste of vulnerability since the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York. At least the USA can lay claim to the adage that the US marshall "always gets his man". But does this make the world a safer place?

I think not.

Bin Laden was just a symbol for a much larger emotion: while his methods are reprehensible, and his suggestion that God blessed his violence is blasphemy, he tapped into a sentiment that has deep resonance: there are many who cheer for the one who resists the American domination of our world.

American interests have fuelled wars in South America, Africa, and the Middle East. For many people America has been experienced as the unpopular policeman of the world. And for many, America has come to represent the Christian voice against Islam.

So when American people dance for joy in the streets at the news of bin Laden's death - this only fuels further anti-American sentiment. The words of Mary Auker Edwards are worth noting:
"Killing one man doesn't end terrorism. Fair and equitable dealings around the world ends terrorism. What a horrific and barbaric country we are to glory in a dead body...."

Let us pray for God's just peace for our world.
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