***Letters from our Vicar***


'Letter from the Vicarage'

Christmas has come and gone and now we are nearing the end of Epiphany when our Lord Jesus Christ was revealed   and manifested to the whole world. Not long from now we will be in Lent preparing our minds and souls for Passiontide and then Easter. But not so long ago in actual fact a couple of weeks ago I mentioned in my sermon something about New Year resolutions and how important they are or how they have become part of our lives.

New Year resolutions are a marker of our intentions. They are a sign that we are making a conscious decision to change some aspect of our lives for the better. Many people during this early part of the year make New Year resolutions to go to the Gymn or to exercise more, some make New Year resolutions to save more in the year and some even make resolutions that are linked with trying to be a better person this year hoping to smile more and be there for others.

What always fascinates me is the amount of effort that people put in order to improve themselves particularly their self-image, the way they look and are perceived by others. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong in looking good or in taking care of yourself. In any case the body you are looking after, after all is the temple of the Lord when it comes down to it.

But that said, wouldn’t it be prudent this year  unlike any other year if we had or could make resolutions that are in line with our spiritual health. Wouldn’t it be pleasing to God if we all made a resolution to read the bible more this year than ever before.

I don’t know, how many of you have been in love before? what  happens when people are in love  or when one is in love .How do lovers relate and how do they behave!. I remember for me, I wanted to spend all the time I had with the one I loved who became my wife. Any spare moments I had or she had we wanted to spent together sharing our hopes and dreams for the future. Don’t you think that God also want’s that from us.

My brothers and sisters  in Christ  the other thing I used to do with the one I love was to write each other letters and when the letters arrived I would spent hours on end reading and re-reading them. Wouldn’t God be pleased this year if one of our New Year Resolutions was to read and re-read the love letter (s) that our Lord has written to us in the form of the Holy Scriptures or Bible. Just imagine how close we could all become to Him. It is not, I don’t think too late to revise your or our New Year Resolutions in any case we are only still in January.  

Please give it a thought and make it   your mission this year to get to know Our Lord Jesus Christ better and be more intimate with him and in doing that he will lead and direct your life.

Father Douglas

January 2015

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'Letter from the Vicarage'

In the last couple of weeks I preached in church about conflicts and how do we deal with disagreements and in our lives and particularly in our churches.

The backdrop to this was that wonderful gospel reading from St Matthews’s chapter 18v15-22 which more or less gave us a template of how we should as Christians endeavour to resolve our differences and conflicts in general but most importantly in a church context.

I might add that the sermon was taken really well and I have never received as much feedback about my sermons than I received at that occasion. This made me think and reflect about why that could have been the case. Not that some of the sermons I have preached in the past have not been well received, oh! no!, far from it, but that sermon seemed to  have affected more people and appeared to have touched a raw nerve. The reasons for that could have been that the church was (and still is) going through some trying times with respect to differences that had emerged and I took the opportunity to share my dilemma about a particular issue with everybody else in the congregation. Maybe that could be one of the reasons that people were engaged, as they could identify with what was happening and what was current. The other reason could possibly be  simply that , conflicts, disagreements by nature are part of our everyday life and as such no–one could actually say that they have not been involved in any conflicts either with close family members or with people they work with or with fellow Christians. The fact that you are alive means that potentially you are bound to be in relation with someone or are in some form of contact with another person and as a result conflict and disagreements are bound to happen. This reality was stressed even further when I went away in the middle of the month to residential conference in Coventry, the theme of the Conference was looking at conflict in a transformational way. 

What came out of that conference was that we respond to conflicts and disagreements in a way that we learned from our childhood, that conflict is inevitable and as a result should be seen as a positive development in any set up, a positive thing that has the potential to transform relations for the better. Conflicts the conference highlighted were also rife in the bible, GOD was always in conflict with his people the Jews, Joseph was in conflict with his brothers, Moses with the people and in the New Testament Paul was in conflict with John Mark, and as a result they had to go their separate ways. Jesus was always in conflict with the teachers of the law and the Pharisees and even at times with his own disciples. So when conflicts arise, always look at the transforming power and potential. Also conflicts could be a sign that people care so much about what they believe in and equally conflicts could be a result of people being afraid of change, change which is naturally inevitable. So as a gathered community of faith, we should not be afraid of conflict but should rather embrace it and therefore harness its transformative powers.

Father Douglas

September 2014

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'Letter from the Vicarage'

‘Relations & Relationships’                  

Before long the 40 days of Easter will be over and it will be that time to celebrate the Feast of  Ascension which will fall on Thursday the 29th of May , that day when we witness our Lord Jesus  Christ  going back to his Father and who is  also our Father.

And at that very moment as we believe we will receive the Holy Spirit, the ‘paraclete’ who will be with us as a friend and guide when Jesus has returned to his Father.  Then 10 days later  on the 50th  day after Easter we will be celebrating  Pentecost when we witness  the coming down of the Holy Spirit first to the disciples and then to ourselves.

And this year ‘s Pentecost will be  a special occasion like so many other occasions  in the past  as we will be witnessing the Confirmation of 5 members  from our congregation by Bishop Andrew on the 8th of June, 2014.

At a recent Confirmation class somebody raised a very interesting thought about what is Confirmation and what it meant to them.  The Christian in question pointed out that the word Confirmation comprised of two words, Confirm and Formation. And according to them if somebody is thinking of or is being prepared for confirmation what they are actually doing is that they are confirming their relationship with God and also being formed into a new and better relationship with him.

Therefore Confirmation involved an aspect of verbalizing and confirming one‘s Christian identity in addition to being Transformed or changed into someone new. So the issue of relationship is key and paramount in this process of Confirmation.Relatioship with God on the one hand and relationship with oneself on the other.

This ties in very much with my recent sermon where I too talked about Relationships in church and how they should or should not be.  In all the feasts and festivals we will be celebrating in the forth coming weeks, beginning with Ascension, Pentecost and even with EASTER which was a couple of weeks ago now, the nature and form of relationship was paramount.

In actual fact all we see and glean throughout these stages of Jesus Christ‘s life, ministry and transition is his relationship with God and to some extent with his disciples.  

What this then shows and tells us is that our relations,  our Relationships matter a great deal , our relationship  with God, our relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and our relationships DARE  I SAY  with our fellow Christians  and those  who are not necessarily Christians but are in the world matter and that more attention should be paid to them.

Former Archbishop of Cape Town in South Africa ,Desmond Tutu in one of his most wonderful books,  Made for  Goodness,  says that , ‘ we are all made for goodness but that goodness is only realised when we are in good relations or when we have a good relationship with God who is our MAKER and REDEEMER!

Working on our Relationships is a lifelong commitment, working on our relationship with God, with his Son Jesus Christ and with our Brothers and Sisters in the world is worth it and worth investing our time and energy; in other words that’s what is required of us!

Father Douglas

May 2014

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'Letter from the Vicarage'

In the last couple of weeks since the beginning of lent or since my induction as the new vicar and tenth vicar of St Andrews Church in Handsworth. I have been intrigued and moved once again by the Stations of the Cross.

No matter how many times I have led or heard them I still find myself moved by the sheer enormity of what Our Lord Jesus Christ did and endured for us on the Cross. What do the Stations of the Cross mean to us and for us as Christians what do they represent? When we walk the way of the cross what are we doing?

3 years ago like many among you I had the privilege of going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and walking the way of the Cross in the old city of Jerusalem. This was an experience that will never be erased from my mind. What moved me to tears like so many others who walk the way of the Cross in the Holy land was the realisation of what Jesus did for us.

It was also the sheer distances that Jesus walked carrying partly that heavy cross and the terrain he travelled to get to Calvary (Golgotha) where he met his fate which was dying on the Cross. Just imagine the pain, the fear and the exhaustion that Jesus endured.

Soon Palm Sunday will be upon us which is the beginning of that final Journey that Jesus will make before his death and rising on the Cross. So as we prepare to re-enact and enter with Jesus into this dark period of Jesus‘s journey to Death on the Cross and to Life through the Resurrection.

May we too as we prepare ourselves for EASTER reflect on  those difficult experiences in our lives  that seem like  the dark period that our Lord Jesus Christ went through before finally rising again to new life . May we always remember that there will always be dawn before sunrise and that light will always follow darkness.

I was recently reminded of the meaning of the Cross when I read Michael Mayne‘s  book –A year Lost and Found a book that talks about his struggle with an unknown virus that had attacked him. He compares the time he spent  suffering and recovering from his illness as his Cross , he says, ‘ If the Cross is a declaration of God ‘s love as in Christ he identifies  himself with us at every point, it is also a declaration of God ‘s forgiveness . If I were  to sum up  in a sentence why I am a Christian  I would say that it is because I believe  in the Passion  of Christ  and the compassion of God. I see and experience a world which has pain and suffering at its centre ; but  I believe in a God who loves each one of us beyond our imagining ; and in a gospel which brings the two together at a place called a Calvary’.(p57)

So no-matter your current circumstances, take heart therefore and experience the love and forgiveness of Christ during this Easter period and beyond. 

Father Douglas

April 2014

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