Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Today has been packing. Books into boxes, clothes into suitcases and the guitar and computer as they come. I trust everything is going to fit into the cars!
Right now, I am nervous. I've worked through so much stuff in the last couple of weeks. I'm not really sure how to BE a minister. Maybe I mean a Minister with a capital M. I like doing the things a minister does, but I'm not into this Reverend stuff. I'm just me, that God has called for some reason known only to himself. I can only be me. I know I'm sometimes a bit 'different'. Maybe people won't like that. But if I start off pretending then things will only get worse. So, I guess I've worked through that.
But it is not good leaving my family. I know that God will see us through, but I'm not convinced that this is the best way.
We will all persevere - in the belief that it does produce character - and trust to God that no unrecoverable damage occurs to any psyches along the way.

Monday, December 29, 2008


My daughter just got her matric results. She did very well. Way to go Charlotte!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The whole family has got stuck in with general house maintenance these holidays. Scraping and painting and tiling. Then we decided to put up shelves along one whole wall in the lounge. We got buy-in from the kids and have spent the last two days pretty much solidly working at the project. It has been such a great experience. Every kid has been totally involved and we have worked together so well. The wood was precut (mostly), but there was sanding and varnishing to be done in preparation and then the actual construction. Kids operated the power drill and the orbital sander. Measured, painted and got stuck in. The eldest actually looked after the kitchen, in preference, and fed us last night and has practically prepared the whole meal for Christmas Day.
God has given me an awesome family. I will miss them next year, but I'm so glad to have seen them so constructively happy during these holidays. Not that they haven't played and messed around plenty as well - that was also good to see.

Happy Christmas to all who come by here! May Jesus be real to you in a special way.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


The church where I am going in Grahamstown actually consists of 19 different preaching points. I received a copy of the preaching plan last week and am beginning to see things as they really are (and not people's guesses and surmises). Some of these points are quite distant from the centre - the furthest is 80km, but most are actually in a fairly close area. There is a school of thought that says that they should all be brought together and that they should worship together and function under the leadership of the minister. But these places resist that. They are presumably led by Methodist 'stewards' and 'local preachers'. The minister will see them to give communion about once a quarter and does some pastoral work occasionally. But the communities really run themselves.
Isn't this the ideal that many people strive for? Close-knit Christian communities that are present in their own communities as a place that Jesus is known. Able to reach out to their neighbours, because they live and worship in the same place. And they have the continuity of leadership that cannot be supplied by the church - because paid ministers cost money.
So much 'emergent church' stuff and 'new thinking' has been done by the Methodist Church in South Africa for years and years. Of course, I don't know how effective the structures are in Grahamstown - according to what I value! That remains to be seen.
Stephen Murray blogged about the requirements for missional community leaders. What will my role be? How can I best equip and encourage these leaders? Many of whom have years more experience in their situation than I will ever have.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Routine Addiction

I wouldn't have said that I was someone who likes routine. But I do struggle with holidays. On Monday I was willing to blog that I hate holidays. I felt withdrawal and frustration and boredom and loss and . . . However as my system adjusts I appreciate picking up old interests and having time to think about different things. Remembering how last Christmas I read Disgrace, The Other Side of Silence and The Whale Caller -South African books that I really enjoyed. So I went with the kids to the library today and got similar books. But it is like kicking a habit - slowing down and staying slowed down. I run from it - Christmas shopping, painting ceilings, all sorts of things around the house, but it is still different form the stress of everyday routine.
Perhaps harder because I know that I won't go back to my old routine. But easier because I am looking forward to the new. Harder because of the people that I will miss. Easier because I believe that I am on God's right path.
Going 'cold turkey' is no fun. But it is good to come out the other side. Now to stay there!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Measuring Value

I guess this is an age old question, but what makes a piece of art 'good'? By art I mean a painting, a book, a piece of music. Things that to my mind are measured subjectively. If I like it, is it good? If most people like it, is it good? If important people like it, is it good? I mean publishers trashed Harry Potter - and yet it has sold like crazy. And actually, I think (like I count!), the books are good - especially the first two.
Why doesn't popular opinion define the value of art? Why do 'experts' define it?
Why will I, quite probably, not really enjoy some 'popular fiction'?
But then I don't enjoy some books that experts call good. Although I guess I would find merit in reading them, even if I had to struggle through.
As I write this, some answers do start coming to mind. Maybe I'll write another post when I've thought about it some more.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I got a call from Grahamstown yesterday. An outgoing circuit steward who has been tasked with looking after me when I arrive. His job is to make sure I find the place where I will be staying and to give me money to buy groceries for the first couple of weeks. Man, I was so touched at the thoughtfulness.
I think I am going to leave my cynicism in Joburg! Everything sounds so good for next year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thank You

Part of leaving my current areas of ministry is all the goodbye events. It has been quite - I think I want to use the word - breathtaking. I've been taking services at Summerfield Retirement Home for years - probably more than 10 years, actually. I've been doing pastoral visiting there this year as well. I took my last services there in November and I was really touched by their concern for me for next year. Hlalanathi Preaching Place included me in their farewell for Rev Vuyelwa and again I was touched by their care. I'm not good at these sort of things - emotional farewells, whatever. Funny things that one has to learn.
My own church, North Rand Methodist, blessed me by allowing me to preach at all three services one Sunday and by praying for me and my family at each service. It was a very special day.
Moving on is good. But it is also good to remember what has been. I'm not good at remembering! Another thing to learn - while I live in the present and the future.
Thank you everyone who has been there for me over the last three years at North Rand and surrounds.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Getting Closer

I got a letter yesterday from the Phase 1 programme coordinator in PE. It is so encouraging to see that they are organised! Orientation on 13 January. Programme laid out. I've even got the notes for the Sacraments Exam which is on the 4 March - I think it said.
I hope I'm not going to struggle with being 'back at school'. I am not good at exams.
Hey, but it's happening!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Kind of Spoilt

I've been driving a VW Citi Golf, about 13 years old. It has done well, but it leaks a bit in the rain and we can't always get parts for it (such as the winder mechanism for one of the rear windows). As I will be away next year, it seemed a good time to get a new car. God has been good to us and the money is there. I really wanted to get a Chevrolet Spark - but the top of the range model, which I wanted, has been unobtainable. After being promised that they would have one by such and such a date about three times and still no show, we decided we needed to do something else. So I now have a Honda Jazz. It is the bottom of the range but seems to have pretty much everything one could want. It is bigger than the Spark -which does make everyone happier (those who were worrying about me!), but obviously more expensive. R90 000 for a Spark, R142 000 for the Jazz.
I struggle within myself to spend money on cars. But I know that this car is likely to be more useful in the long run than the cheaper Spark, and will probably last longer too.
So . . . I am very happy . . . very blessed . . . and looking forward to the Eastern Cape highways.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Masters Update

I got the comments back from my supervisor on my two chapters so far. Constructive and encouraging, I think. I haven't worked through them in detail. I can see that the biggest 'problem' is that my material isn't presented as an argument - or not tightly so. That is partly because I am lazy (unfortunately I have to acknowledge that), but also because I'm not sure yet what I will be arguing in favour of. I am so enjoying having my mind opened in directions I would never have gone by the reading I am doing.
I am somewhat discouraged by the realisation that I will probably need three years to get my Masters done - at a level that satisfies me - and I may not have that three years, due to the Methodist Church taking ownership of - my education, my calling, my life? I do sometimes wonder what I am getting myself into.
On the other hand, I am enjoying the reading and writing for itself and no one can take what I learn away from me!