The Lord is the everlasting God….He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength….. they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…..”
-Isaiah 40:30b-31a (NRVS)Read more
There is an education crisis in South Africa. The pass rate nationally for secondary students is 70.7%. In our province, the pass rate is near the bottom with only 60.7% pass yet Inanda Seminary achieved 100% pass with 96% who qualify to attend university.Read more
Mabel Alice Christofersen
November 16, 1921 – June 15, 2015
The legendary account tells us that one cool October 31st in 1517, the priest Martin Luther defiantly nailed his protest notice to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. These 95 thesis were a list of abuses and errors that he understood were a corruption of the purpose and mission of the Church. In reality, the Ninety-five Theses were most likely sent to his Archbishop. And the list was not really a defiant protest as much as it was a sincere call for the Church to begin addressing some of its problems that Luther felt had obscured the Gospel message.
In any case, Luther hoped that his Theses would be seen and discussed as a step toward renewal of the Church, so that people might know the truth about God’s forgiveness for their lives. The powerful passage from Romans 3:19-28 had fired his soul and he was so overflowing with joy after years of guilt and a need for forgiveness that he had to share the truth with all that he could. Little did he know the enormous impact on the world that his one simple act would have. His willingness to stand up to pope and emperor in the name of the Gospel of Christ changed the face of history, and the face and direction of the entire Christian Church.
Today we do not celebrate division. Rather we celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit in our Church and our hearts. It is this movement of the Holy Spirit that brings us newness and renewal, both in our personal lives and in the life of the Church. When we pray, "Come, Holy Spirit!" we know that the whole Church is always in need of reform, and we each are always in need of dying again in Christ in order to be raised from the dead, so that we might be truly free by the grace of Jesus the Christ in our lives and Church. "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:31-36)
Yet beyond those issues, traditionally in the Church the two days of All Saints Day (November 1) was valued as a time to celebrate heritage and those Christians of the past who faithfully transmitted the Faith to succeeding generations. Martin Luther actually chose All Saints Eve to send his Ninety Five Theses to the Archbishop. His challenge to the Church and its leaders to reform was set against the background of the heritage of that Church.
Today, UCCSA and many Protestant churches combine the two traditional days into the observance of All Saints Day. However, the day focuses not only on honoring departed members of the Church and local congregations, but also those still living who have contributed to the work and ministry of the Church in significant ways. . Some of our churches combined All Saints Day celebration with Reformation Sunday (last Sunday in October) as a way to focus on heritage.Read more
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
-Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Between the valleys and the mountains, and the panoramic glimpses that we sometimes receive from life’s journey, is the everyday chore of placing one foot in front of the other, kilometer after kilometer- praying and hoping that we are on the right path, and doing what needs to be done. It is sometimes said that what may seem chaotic on a micro level, is ordered on a macro level. In many ways, I believe that is reflective of life at the Theological Education by Extension College (TEEC) in Johannesburg, South Africa.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Mark 10:35-45
Prayers for South Africa:
Caring and loving God,
Help us as your people, to gain greater clarity of what it means to be your children; servants in the manner that our Lord Jesus taught, to put aside the doing of things because we might think that we will get “double in return”......putting aside thoughts of “you scratch-my-back and I will scratch-your-back.” Help us to glorify you, O Lord, help us to be thy servants. Help us to use our time and energy to be a good friend to others in need; and to understand that commitment to you means not only words, but also doing things with our whole heart, mind….and everything that is in us.
We pray especially today for the people of South Africa and those groups and organizations trying to make a difference for the better - Ons Plek, South African Council of Churches, the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) - both the South Africa Synod as well as the regional body and Theological Education by Extension (TEE) College.
Lord Jesus, we give thanks and praise to you as a source of our strength, that keeps us on a steady path and who lifts us up when we stumble and sometimes lose our way.
August 26, 2014
White supremacy through Apartheid undermined education for people of colour in South Africa. Likewise, Apartheid decimated theological education, closing school after school and thus weakening the church’s capability to mould its ministers. Despite the new democratic dispensation, ministerial formation continued to weaken as universities closed theological faculties across the country. Nonetheless, twenty years after Nelson Mandela became President there are signs of a budding recovery. One such place where hope blooms is at the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.Read more
“And the Lord shall guide thee continually. -Isaiah 58:11 KJV
When we arrived in Kuruman, Northern Cape, South Africa to serve at the House of Ministerial Formation, located on the grounds of the historic Moffat Mission, in January 2014, we saw it as our last assignment prior to retirement in 2017. We were really excited at the prospect of serving the Church- ministerial candidates from the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) in their pursuit of a theological education. Jayanthi worked as the librarian at the Moffat Mission library, organizing and cataloguing the theological book collection and assisting students with research. I, as the Director of Ministerial Formation, served as chaplain, tutor and administrator of the school. Jayanthi and I considered it a privilege to have worked in a cross-cultural and Christian setting with men and women from Southern Africa- Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, and Mozambique. We had times of fellowship and research as well as times of great joy and sadness. As said earlier, this was to be our last assignment before retirement. Nonetheless, our work as missionaries is not about “us.” It’s about serving Christ Jesus and the Church. The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa chose to close the school at the end of 2014 as part of a restructuring of its ministerial training programme. The decision both changed and challenged us.Read more