It is Good Friday - by God's grace I woke up early this morning and have been given the gift of quiet time to pray, read, and reflect.
Since my last post, from Kampala Uganda, it feels like a lifetime has passed. It has only been a week.
Last Saturday I flew from Rwanda to Johannesburg. Megan and our children flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg as a gift from one of the members of the Bryanston Methodist Church. Such gifts are truly an expression of God's love for us as a family through the goodness of others. By Saturday afternoon we were all together at Megan's sister's home in Bryanston.
I had come here at the invitation of this wonderful Church to preach the Holy Week services, based on the theme of Jesus' High Priestly Prayer (John 17.1-26). The High Priestly prayer is normally only considered after Easter in the lectionary. However, in its placement in the text it fits nicely as a build up to Easter, since it is likely that the prayer itself would have been prayed at the conclusion of the Last Supper, or on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane.
It is a wonderful text to shape one's thoughts on Jesus love for the Father, the Triune God's love for the world (although there is no direct mention of the Holy Spirit in this text), and of course Jesus' prayer for his disciples and the Church that would come (that is you and I).
You are most welcome to download the 4 sermons that I preached from Sunday evening from my dropbox account here on the following links:
- "1 Refocusing your gaze s31 March 2012 number 1 knowing God.doc" in my Dropbox: http://db.tt/r6S7lEgz
- "2 Rediscovering your true identity 1 April 2012.docx" in my Dropbox: http://db.tt/U3NlAlWi
- "3 Recapturing your life’s true calling 3 April 2012.docx" in my Dropbox: http://db.tt/HA3OGrBk
- "4 Repurposing your relationships 4 April 2012.docx" in my Dropbox: http://db.tt/anBMx4f2
If you don't already have a free DropBox account please sign up: use my referral link, and I will get an extra 250MB storage, a great help to me. Thanks!
As I was preparing the reflections for this week I found the following quote. It is quite thought provoking:
Indeed, Saint John’s whole Passion narrative is built on this connection between humble service and glory (doxa): it is in Jesus’ downward path, in his abasement even to the Cross, that God’s glory is seen, that the Father and, in him, Jesus are glorified. In a brief scene on ‘Palm Sunday’ - in what might be termed the Johannine version of the Gethsemane story - all this is summed up: “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again’” (12:27-28). The hour of the Cross is the hour of the Father’s true glory, the hour of Jesus’ true glory.
Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two (via invisibleforeigner)
So, let me take a step back to Rwanda. I only had the privilege of visiting Kigali, the Capital City, of that beautiful nation. I was struck by the beauty of the place and its people. It is hard to imagine the horror of the genocide that took place there when one encounters the current beauty! I wrote the following short reflection on my Tumblr blog while waiting for my flight from Kigali to Johannesburg.
Rwanda is so beautiful. This morning all of the citizens of Kigali work in the city from 8am - 11am to clean and tidy this beautiful place. It is hard to imagine the horror that transpired here with the Rwandan genocide. I am left with a host of conflicting emotions - the conflict between the horror and depravity of human sin, and the possibility and beauty that God has placed within people and creation. I recognise that I carry that same conflict in my very nature. I am prone to sin, anger, selfishness, self-righteousness, pride… Yet, at the same time God gives the gift of empathy, the faculty of reason and the frailty of needing to depend on others… Without my kind French speaking taxi driver, who had to explain to police in a roadblock why he was driving me to the airport instead of working in the city, I would not be returning home to my wife and children for whom my heart aches with longing. I am dependent, dependent on God’s grace, and dependent on the good will of others, and dependent on love and beauty. This is a good place to reflect on the value of dependence.
It was good to be back in South Africa, a country to which I came as a young 'refugee' from Zimbabwe. Here too we have immeasurable beauty, incalculable wealth, and wonderful opportunity. I am blessed and thankful to be a citizen of this nation.
However, I also recognize that this privilege comes with a great responsibility. South Africa is one of the most inequitable nations in the world. We have the 27th largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world. The province of Gauteng has the 3rd largest economy on the continent of Africa (if I am correct, the largest economy is the nation of South Africa, then Nigeria, then the Gauteng Province, then Egypt). Yet, there are some signs of concern. Last year Rwanda rose about 4 places on the Transparency International Corruptions Perceptions Index (CPI) to being perceived to be the 4th least corrupt nation in Africa (behind Botswana, Cape Verde, and Mauritius). South Africa, however, dropped 16 places in their CPI score in 1 year! This is a grace concern.
So, this week was spent preaching in the evenings, and during the day I used the opportunity to meet with some of the most influential business, political and Church leaders of South Africa who live and work in and around Johannesburg. In each instance I shared the challenge to stand for values, ethics and clean living, by joining us in the Unashamedly Ethical campaing.
I also asked these persons to book the dates of 14-20 October 2013 for a week of witness, action and advocacy on behalf of the poor and the corrupt, by joining the 100 million others who form the EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption campaign. By the way, EXPOSED is featured as the lead story on the World Evangelical Alliance website this month - I met with the vice chair of the WEA here in Johannesburg, Ndaba Mazabane. I will be meeting with the chair of the World Evangelical Alliance in the USA in about three weeks time (Geoff Tunnicliffe).
This Easter Friday morning I am considering the fact that the passion of Christ is intricately linked to His glory. What some would consider a defeat, death at the hands of his adversaries, was the greatest victory in all history. Because of His sacrificial love the world is saved.
In John 17.4 Jesus says that he brought Glory to his Father by completing the work that he had been sent to do. It is my desire to bring Glory to the Father, Son and Spirit by completing the work that I am sent to do - and I ask for your prayers in this task.
Please join me in the work of healing and transforming the world for the sake of God's Kingdom.
A blessed Easter to you! It is Friday, but Sunday is coming!