PASTORAL LETTER AUGUST 2012
Dear Alberton Methodist Family,
"So be careful how you live. Don't live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days “(GNB) or "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time,
because the days are evil. “(KJV)
For Reflection: Winter is passing, so the days are getting longer and hopefully progressively warmer now that Spring seems to be on the way.
The seasons are a wonderful reminder that time comes and time goes but the verse above reminds us to use our time wisely, to be good stewards of time. We are called to 'redeem the time' or as the Good News version puts it "make good use of every opportunity you have" and we do that by living as good stewards in the time that God gives us to live. Let us be thankful for the time, in other words, the life, that we have. It has been and continues to be a gift from God given to us daily, but at some stage, taken away from every one of us as well.
Preaching Series: As we have studied the Scriptures over the last few months in our series on the Ten Commandments, we have seen that the best way to live is as good, faithful and obedient servants of our LORD, seeing in His moral commands (as opposed to His ritual and ceremonial commands which have been fulfilled) how we should live, how we ought to conduct ourselves as God’s people in God’s creation. At the same time we’ve emphasised that we are not saved by keeping God’s commandments. In fact it seems (especially as we read many of Jesus' parables), that on Judgement Day we are going to be judged more by what kind of steward we were rather than by how much we did or did not keep God’s commandments. It seems therefore a good idea to follow up our Ten Commandment series on Christian Moral Conduct with one on Christian Stewardship.
Starting on 2 September we are preaching a series on Stewardship and, after the introduction where we will look at the difference between stewardship and ownership, will be looking at Stewardship of Creation, of our Talents, Spiritual gifts and Abilities, of People (especially the poor), of our Time, of our Bodies, of the Bible and finally of our Money. Each of these will hopefully result in some change in our lifestyle as God’s people living in God’s creation. A series of study notes has been prepared which will be available in printed form each week. If you have e-mail or internet access, the notes are also available via e-mail on request from the office and can also be accessed on my blog at http://dentalmethodist.blogspot.com/search/label/Stewardship
For reflection: Being a good steward will never put us right with God and save us. We are put right with God and saved by faith alone. Many people behave as good stewards in this life and are very concerned about the environment, they put their talents to very good use in the service of humanity, they do good things for other people and they sometimes give huge sums of money to charities and foundations. Without faith however, these things have no eternal value. Likewise faith without works is dead faith and has no eternal value either (James 2:14-17). Let us all say "Yes" to stewardship in a new way, redeeming the time we have left and then look forward by faith to Christ's "Well done, good and faithful servant" on that great day that we will all stand before Him.
For prayer: Confirmation Sunday this year is 23 September and I covet your prayers for our confirmees; Candice Wilsnach, Chelsea Moses, Christine Guerini, Doreen Karuzi, Dylan Pete, Gayle McGuiness, Jacqueline Muller, Jared Sadie, Jaydene Lourens, Jordan Hibbert, Karin Kahl, Kate Woolway, Kelton Smith, Letitia Frosch, Margaret Tsotetsi, Olivia Guerini, Sherilee Barnes Dunstan, Thabo Nhlapo, Thokozani Msimango. Those who haven’t been baptised will be baptised at a special Baptism Service at midday that Sunday to which the congregation is invited and which will take place at John and Nora’s pool. From the 26 August to 16 September the confirmees will be sharing a little of their testimonies at our various Sunday worship services. Please pray for them as they complete their preparation for confirmation.
For information, prayer and preparation: As you might remember, at our Annual Society Meeting last year, a number of congregation members expressed concern at the steady decline in worship attendance over a number of years. The decision taken was that the Society Stewards would investigate Church Survey material and find something which might best suit our needs. A great deal of work has been done in this regard and we will soon be conducting the REVEAL survey, a survey which has been used in over 1200 churches worldwide, including many Methodist churches in SA. For more info, visit http://revealnow.com/ The key to success in this survey is going to be reaching as many of our members (and former or lapsed members) as possible, so please keep your eyes and ears open as more info comes to hand. The survey will be able to be completed on paper and also electronically. Folk on our e-mail database will receive a link via e-mail and will complete and submit the form electronically, while folk not connected to the internet will be able to fill in a hard copy and return it to the office. The responses are collected and interpreted by the Willow Creek Association. This survey will, very aptly, take place during our Stewardship series, giving us all an opportunity to be better stewards of the church our LORD has called us to be a part of, and better stewards of the community He has placed us in.
Conclusion: Please continue to pray into the life of Alberton Methodist Church as we seek to fulfil our vision of being a community of disciples seeking to grow the Kingdom of God, so that His Kingdom comes through us as His will is done by us in this special part of earth called Alberton.
Chris and I remain your servants and God’s stewards here in Alberton.