Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Francois Fenelon

For the past weeks I have included a quote from Francois Fenelon as a signature on all my e-mails. It reads as follows: "Be persuaded, timid soul, that He has loved you too much ever to
cease loving you.". Thanks to a member of the Barthian milieu group (Yahoo) for drawing my attention to this quote.

So, I decided to wiki old Francois. The following story fascinates me:

"When he was Almoner to Louis XIV his majesty was astonished one Sunday to find, instead of the usual crowded congregation, only himself and his attendants, the priest, and the other officers of the chapel. "What is the meaning of this?" asked the king; the prelate answered: "I caused it to be given out, that your majesty did not attend chapel to-day, in order that you might see, who came here to worship God, and who to flatter the King.""

My prayer this week is for all Christians, myself included, that our worship and service may be sincere and pleasing to God.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thérèse of Lisieux

Therese of Lisieux is not well known, but the impact of her sincere struggle with her faith has shaped the way both Catholics and Protestants approach the topic of faith and gratitude.

Therese became a nun at a very young age, with the sole motivation of becoming holy. She did not only want to be holy, she wanted to be the most holy. She thought that the convent would provide a sanctuary where this distinct gift would find fulfillment. Very soon she realized that spiritual growth is dependent on grace. The more she tried to become holy, the further away she moved from holiness. The picture she drew of spiritual growth in the convent was that of a person climbing a staircase. It demanded effort, hard work and discipline.

She simply felt too weak for such a journey. If holiness depended on the amount of effort she put in, she would certainly not achieve it. Then they invented the elevator, and this discovery helped Therese in understanding grace. An elevator fetches people. The strong and the weak are all carried to their destination. So, God's grace also acts in a way that demands less of the individual, meaning that even the weakest in faith can experience the uplifting power of God's love. God's grace to all is therefore the "mechanism" that promotes spiritual growth.

Theresa continued on her spiritual journey, surrendering more and more of her life to the grace of God. She wrote an autobiography, translated into English as "Story of a Soul", which became her profound contribution to written theology. She died at the age of 24 from Tuberculosis.

Thanks to those at the Theological Society of South Africa for their insights and Dr Willem Nicol for his presentation.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

22 January - Matthew's other birthday

Three years ago we were waiting patiently in a hospital waiting room. Matthew was being operated on at only 4 months old. The doctors swapped his aorta and pulmonary arteries and closed holes in the septum between the ventricles and atria. Matthew suffered heart-failure and needed this operation to save his life. I remember pacing the ward for the whole 8 hours. Natalie and other family were doing the same. Very little was spoken that day. I nevertheless remember thinking "Where will we be 3 years from now?". That question really got me going for hours - sifting through all the possibilities.

Well, here we are! Matt is healthy and strong! At 3 he is building 100-piece puzzles and after completing them, breaks them up and rebuilds them with the pieces facing down! He is well mannered, sensitive and appreciative of all things. Where Nathan is our little Rastafarian (see earlier post), I suppose Matt is our little Buddhist. (just joking for those who take offense).
We thank God today for our boys and their health. We give thanks for Dr. Colyn at UNITAS, who looked after Matt at all hours of the day. She remains a very good friend and Matt's favourite doctor. We give thanks for Prof. Kinsley, Drs Dansky, Mamorare and Colsen, whom through their work give support, comfort, hope and joy to many families. We give thanks to all the nursing staff who always had time to listen and provide a shoulder to cry on. Thanks God.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Right of admission reserved

I have been asked to do a wedding. The bride is a member of my church, while her husband to be is Catholic. When we met for our first interview, they expressed the wish for me to share the service with his priest. The wedding will take place in our Methodist Church. They also asked to share in the Sacrament of Holy Communion - symbolic of their first meal together.

I already anticipated difficulty in conveying these wishes to the priest. I met him this morning and had a delightful conversation, until we spoke about Communion. The priest made it quite clear that he would have difficulty in sharing in a service where Holy Communion is involved, as it would be celebrated outside a Catholic Church. I was surpised, but at the same time, not really. I know the Catholic view on Nuptual Mass, Mass per se. I respect it, but I am hurt by it.

I am hurt by the fact that the Sacrament of grace cannot find its place outside a specific environment. I am hurt by the lack of recognition that God calls all different kinds of people to minister in God's Church. I am hurt for the couple's sake, for they have to make the decision whether to forsake Communion or ask the Priest not to partake.

When the Table is closed, it is not just the Table that is unaccessible. It leads to more things. It leads to bruised relationships, disappointment and an atmosphere of caution, rather than celebration.

I pray for wisdom. And healing.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Homeland Security

A friend bought me this t-shirt. Hope you see the picture ok, otherwise go to www.tribalsovereigntees.com

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Finding places

We start by looking at two of the three most beautiful people. Mainly, because I don't know how to move the photo so that I can write above it.

I any case...

I love going to Spier whenever in Cape Town. It is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places that I have ever visited. There are so many places in the Cape to visit, that if one compares it to Gauteng, it is no wonder that up here we are so busy and stressed while folk from the Cape seem a lot more relaxed.

That was until Sunday. We were invited to go to the Irene farm to have some lunch. To my surprise I found that this place had the same atmosphere as Spier. Open space, people eating, kids playing... bliss.

We have probably driven past Irene farm a million times, never bothering to go inside and take a look. Obviously some great meditation-material here. It made me think about the tendency in rushed living to miss the places of serenity and peace. In our rush, it is easy to slip past the "entrances" to being peaceful, content, the place where one can just "be". Perhaps our names should be changed from "human beings" to "human doings" as an author suggests.

This year, my aim is to be happy with where I am and what I've got. My life is fulfilled only if I accept it as such. To live this way, I believe, makes it easier to go into the places of sanctuary and to be at peace.

Here are some more photos of our time at Irene Farm.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A new year with all kinds of challenges!

Hi friends! Happy New Year!

I haven't posted for quite some time. Reason being that I have taken December and called it "Finish Your Doctorate-month". I am pleased to announce that, after hours and hours of labour, I have given birth to something new. It is a girl. Just joking. Hours and hours of labour is true. I feel that this work is something new. I would like to think of it as a little girl, but the pages are too close together to tell for sure.

This festive-season has nevertheless been a special time in our family-life. Matthew is growing and really enjoyed this Christmas. His wisdom and compassion astounds me. Natalie told him the other day to say "Thank you" whenever somebody gave him a gift. Not that we had to teach him, for he has been doing this for a long time now. It was just a reminder. She also told him about many other boys and girls that won't be getting presents over Christmas.

I didn't know about the second part until last week. Matt's new toys were lying all over the place. Walking-in from my study, with my mind buzzing with Barth's ecclesiological rhetoric, I almost slipped on this pile of toys. Frustrated, I looked at Matt and said: "In one minute I am going to take a plastic bag. I am going to take all toys that I find lying around and I am going to give them to other children!" OK, I know it wasn't the best thing to say. He calmly looked at me and said "Hey, what a good idea!" He then fetched a bag, put the toys inside, handed it to me and said "Thanks papa for taking the toys to the children". Ouch.

Who was taught a lesson? Who needs Barth when you have little 3 year olds?

Let's move on, before I fall into a state of guilt again.

Nathan is growing well. He is gaining about 300g per week, so now weighing 4.5kg. He is still a very quiet baby and laughs whenever he sees me. It must be my nose. Thanks Oupa Goewies!

Natalie is a beautiful as ever and celebrates every day as she is able to fit into her old clothes again. Nathan is sucking her dry! She will start work again in the second term, so she has a lot of time to relax, look after Nathan and make me coffee. He-he

Things are well with me. I can't wait to submit the final bound copies of my thesis! This must happen before the end of February. Until then, I will add a little here and there. It is truly a Christian thesis as the Lord is adding to its number (of pages) every day. I will also be completing my 3rd year Psychology courses and hopefully enroll for the Masters by about June.

Blessings to all and hope that 2007 treats you well.