Thursday, March 27, 2008

Different Counting

This is the cake that my children made for my birthday last week. They couldn't fit enough candles on in the usual way, so they made a plan using binary counting. Left is low and right is high in the picture. Does anyone know how old I am?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spy Thriller Stuff

I'm almost afraid of writing this post - in case it gets someone into trouble! In our church the services always have an opportunity for people from the congregation to share something that God has done in their lives in the past week.
On Sunday evening, one of our members who works for a human rights organisation told of his experience on Good Friday. He was in the DRC at the invitation of one of the universities. He was travelling with a Congolese colleague who was fairly provocative in his challenging of human rights abuses. As a result this guy was picked up by eight heavies from 'the DRC Intelligence' while in our church member's presence. About six hours later they came back for him. What happened is really like something out of a novel. I'll leave it to your imagination. But our member just says that God was with him because he was not physically assaulted. And they both got home safely.
We do need to pray for Africa!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Birthday

Today is Good Friday. It is also my birthday. It feels odd celebrating my birth on the same day that we remember Jesus death. But, isn't that actually what it is all about? He died, so that we can live - be born again, if you like. It is a special day for me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good Friday Equinox

I am quite fascinated with astronomical links to the Bible. Eclipses and stars and so on. I thought that this year we had Good Friday on the equinox (21st March). This must be a pretty rare occurrence. (The equinox is when the day and night are the same length. There are two equinoxes in a year).

My understanding was that Good Friday is the first Friday after the first full moon after the equinox. I suppose this sounds pretty pagan, but I think it is much more interesting than always being the 21st day of the third month which is just as 'unreligious'. For Good Friday to be on the equinox we'd need the equinox to happen on the same day as the full moon and that day should be a Friday.

What I have discovered however is:

That it is actually the date of Easter Sunday that is set. It is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the equinox. Here.

Also the equinox this year actually falls on the 20th of March (at about 5am GMT). Last year it was the 21st, but it is apparently quite often the 20th! See here.

The full moon will be on 21st March at 6.40pm GMT.

The last time Easter Sunday was on the 23 March was in 1913 and will be again in 2160. The earliest Easter Sunday can be is 22 March (1818 and 2285).

Interesting! And cool to have equinox, full moon and Easter Sunday almost a day after each other.

The picture is John van der Laar's.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

An Inside Job

We've just had the third break-in at our church in about six weeks. It really looks like it is somebody from the church who knows where things are and how things work. We even think we might know who it is. But it is not a pleasant situation at all.
On the other hand, when we start making inroads on Satan's kingdom we can expect a backlash. Is that a comfort?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Getting It Closer to Right!

I took the service at Hlalanathi again on Sunday. This time it went much better!
The three things I did (thanks Herman!) were to use a translator, tell stories and involve the children. A formula I've used before, but for some reason just deserted me last time.
I spoke about the calling of Samuel in the temple. I had the kids act it out and there was much laughter. We had God hiding behind the 'lectern' so that he could not be seen. Samuel and Eli slept at different spots in the church. Samuel took great delight in waking Eli up as roughly as possible. Then as I spoke about God's calling to us the interpreter just asked for help from the congregation when she struggled to find the right words. What confuses me is that they insist they understand English, until I ask one of them to interpret and the truth comes out!
But I communicated with the people. God is good!
(The picture is a little kid who was on the go the whole time. At this point, pushing his pram up and down the front of the church!)

Friday, March 07, 2008


This weekend my husband and four children are off to Kontiki at Murray Park in Springs. This is the Scouts raft-building weekend and my second daughter is on the raft crew for her troop. The eldest is in charge of the shore crew. My eldest son is in a troop which decided not to participate in Kontiki this year and my youngest is yet a Cub. So the men and boys are part of the support camp while the girls are helping to make it all happen.
This weekend has become one where, every year, I stay behind and enjoy the space. I do miss them, but it is good to be by myself.
I've been looking forward to this weekend. Time to read and eat junk food. BUT - I've come down with a cold or flu or something and am feeling rotten! However, it does make me appreciate how seldom I am sick.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Pre Paleo Post Neo Whatever!

I've been meaning to get to grips with Steve Hayes' blog for a while. But I haven't had time to properly engage with his thought-provoking stuff - it's not always easy reading!
But I'm getting the hang of it and enjoying him. (As do many people I'm sure, he's currently top of Amatomu Religion.) In this post he introduced me to neopaganism and paleopaganism and thus indirectly to mesopaganism. Words I had never heard before. Brian McLaren in 'A Generous Orthodoxy' is free in his use of 'post' as in post-evangelical. And all these are either premodern, modern or postmodern. Our philosophies are forming in a multidimensional matrix that becomes somewhat mind-boggling.
It's cool! If we can handle it we can almost merge the systematic nature of modernism (giving all these philosophies names and definitions) and the mystery of postmodernism (no matter how much you sytematicise you'll never reach ultimate definition). It's like an infinitely-sided regular polygon is actually a circle.
That's a nice bit of postmodern thinking. If you don't understand it doesn't matter, it was just fun to write. For more on forms of paganism go here.

Someone was telling me today about a man whose daughter committed suicide on Monday night. He was estranged from his wife and her family when he became a Christian. They rejected him because they were Wiccan. The daughter was raised Wiccan. I don't like this stuff.

Monday, March 03, 2008


This Sunday I led two services. This isn't unusual, but it doesn't happen every week. The first was at Hlalanathi, the church in an informal settlement that we are nurturing along. The congregation was 12 adults and 4 children old enough to listen. That is so encouraging. It is not long ago that I used to arrive to find only one or two people there for church. Or to find that our venue had been appropriated by another church group. This Sunday I heard the singing from the road. It was very cool! And the painted building looks clean and bright inside.

I am very frustrated with my preaching however. I struggle to make contact with the people. It is partly language - they say that they understand English well enough, but I don't think that they do. They also avoid eye contact - I haven't really noticed that before in an African congregation. Is it a cultural thing? I have preached in several other African contexts and have rarely felt such a lack of connection. Last time I was at Hlalanathi I brought 'props'. I was talking about the vine and the branches and pruning and I took along some bits of rose bush - dead and alive. The people showed sparks of life as I explained using the objects. But that doesn't seem like preaching. It seems to belittle the people.

I am preaching there again next Sunday. I must do better. Pray harder perhaps? Because it is God who does the work in the end. But if I'm not the right person, then we must rather find the right person.