The hazards of longing for an ideal community?

Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The book of Acts chapter 2 carries such a powerful picture a Christian community where the Spirit God is powerfully at work, the gospel preached and lives are transformed. I long and pray that the Christian community I am part would look more like this.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

Yet so often there seems a huge gap between this ideal and the reality of the hurts and frustrations of a diverse group of “sinners” each hindered by our own baggage, blindspots and hurts.

I know many believing friends who are now “post church”. They believe… but have stepped back from participation in a church community. The ideal of Christian community has been drowned out by the disappointments and hurts experienced within the church.

So often I find myself frustrated by the ways the community I am part of does not reflect Jesus or his kingdom. Often I find myself loving the ideal of Christian community more than the community I am part of.

So I have been greatly challenged by these wise and challenging words from the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial.

God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church.

Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it, for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess he builds. We must proclaim, he builds. We must pray to him, and he will build. We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are the times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point are great times for the church are times when it’s pulled down. It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to his church.

You confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough…. Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Brendan Fox

COVID Level 1 services

We are so encouraged by the continuing drop in COVID numbers and move to Level 1. We pray for wisdom for our countries leaders and trust for safety as the country begins to open up.

One of the changes for CHS is that we will soon be moving from prerecorded online services to lives streaming our 9am Sunday gathering on Youtube starting on 4 October.

Services can be viewed on our Youtube channel

Hope for the future

 

The Future Sparks After School Programme update – Jenny Person

 

Future Sparks is an After School programme for children and youth  living in Westlake.

After School programmes provide learners with opportunities for enrichment in the academic, psycho-social and extra-curricular areas. Research has shown that After school programmes  reduce dropout rates in schools by motivating learners to stay in school through the sense of belonging and support given through personal relationships with tutors and this has a positive impact on future success of these learners. The vision for the programme is to continue working with the learners when they move on to and through their  High School years. This is a critical time when they move away from the safety of their local primary school and often have to travel long distances to reach their high schools. Dropout rates are unfortunately high, as a result of many barriers faced while attending these schools.

 


Dropout rates are unfortunately high, as a result of many barriers faced while attending these schools.


 

Future Sparks began in January 2020 with Grade 7 learners at Westlake Primary school, we enrolled just over  65 learners who became regular, enthusiastic attendees of the programme. A wonderful group of almost 20 volunteers  invested their time and energy into the programme, facilitating 4 sessions a week (Monday – Thursday) at the Primary school campus, using the hall and then classrooms for small group time. 

Each session was started with a healthy snack and register. On Mondays and Thursdays the learners focused on Math’s and English tutoring in small groups. On Tuesdays learners were able to choose one from  the following extra curricular activities: Drama, Singing or Soccer. On Wednesdays a life skills programme focusing on personal identity and growth was run by Ronald and his team.

The programme ran with high energy and great attendance for 7 weeks, there were some ups and down and curveballs to deal with as we adjusted the programme to suit the spaces and people we were working with. However,  with the increasing threat of the spread of Covid19 and imminent lock down we were  forced to stop the programme at the school.

 

It is hard to understand why a programme started in January, which ran for such a short time had to shut down, when we felt the call to start this programme so clearly in the latter half of 2019. But God knew this would happen, so we trust that through all the disappointment that we felt, God has a plan, and that we need to persevere and keep doing what we can, to stay connected to the learners.  

 


It is hard to understand why a programme started in January… But God knew this would happen, so we trust that through all the disappointment that we felt, God has a plan…


 

During the level 4 & 5 lockdown, thanks to a WhatsApp group which we had created for the parents we were able to communicate with the parents of our learners. This allowed us to hand out learning material for the grade 7’s that we could reach during the hard lockdown. We were not able to connect in a significant way  due to the restrictions, but we could at least provide something for them to do at home.  Once the grade 7’s were back at school we realised that we would still not be able to have face-to-face contact with them due to the Education Department restrictions on access to school property by outside groups. So we began to research what others tutoring programmes were doing during lockdown to reach their learners. It seemed that online tutoring through WhatsApp groups was the most effective way to connect although by no means easy or as effective. It took some time to get consent from the parents for their children to be contacted via cell phones, as this is a basic Child protection requirement. In the end we managed to get 50 learners into 8 WhatsApp groups to contact them and work with them twice a week. We were able to get maths material (videos and worksheets) from a generous Private Maths Tutoring company (Math&Me) which we could distribute via WhatsApp groups. FunDza (a non profit organization working in the literacy development) helped us through webinars to learn how to run reading groups using WhatsApp. So we began tutoring in August. This has been a challenging and new way of relating to the learners. Firstly, 50% of the learners do not have their own phone, so they rely on a family member’s phone which can only be accessed for use at a certain time, which makes it difficult to come on to the WhatsApp groups during the active time (usually 5-6:30pm on Mondays and Thursdays). Secondly data costs are a major issue for families who are struggling in the current economic climate to just provide for basic needs. There are also some learners who are shy and reticent in this online tutoring space. But we continue to try to support the learners and let them know that they’re seen and heard and that we are here for them.

 


But we continue to try to support the learners and let them know that they’re seen and heard and that we are here for them.


 

The Ubomi Charitable Trust was initiated and founded during lockdown, this is a legal Non Profit Trust entity that gives ministries inclusive of Future Hope ministry (formerly Future Life) the ability to fundraise more effectively for the needs of these ministries. Future Sparks is part of this trust.. A new Future Hope Ministries website was also developed by the team during lockdown and can be viewed here: https://www.futurehope.org.za/

 

Please pray for the Future Sparks programme, this year has not worked out the way we thought it would! But we’d so much like to continue our relationship with the learners in the years ahead, to nurture hope for the future and a desire for change by providing opportunities for growth in character and skills.  

 


Changing mindsets. Restoring hope. Re-imagining futures


 

The church has left the building

We are starting a new video interview series called … The Church has left the building.

Check out this week’s first episode with John Gilmour, Founder of LEAP Schools.

We have left our building but continue to be church in homes, workplaces and communities across our city. The lockdown has been very isolating and we hope to encourage and connect people to the experiences of others during this time. To share testimonies and stories of how members of the congregation are living out their faith during these challenging times.

Happy 21st Birthday CHS

31 May 2020

Today in the midst of change and uncertainty, we celebrate Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit and CHS’s 21st Birthday! 

‘“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Acts 2:17-21


Sadly during lockdown we can’t all celebrate ‘in style’ together!

I’m sure, like us, you’re all missing seeing our friends and familiar faces at our Sunday services, so our fantastic ‘tech wizard’ Zane, has put together a CHS 21st Birthday Celebration video clip, to mark the occasion and to share with you, our wonderful CHS family!

Remembering

As a part of CHS’s 21st Birthday celebration, we are remembering the God-led events that led to the planting of the church.We will be sharing 3 video interviews with those who were involved in responding to God’s call.

Rev Duncan Mclea, our Parish Rector, chats with Zane to share the story of how the parish responded to God’s call and established CHS in Kirstenhof.


Eleanor Lawrence who was amongst the first “plantees”, coming from St John’s, Wynberg to start the new church. Eleanor reminisces about the early vision, the reality of a very basic church building, and what God has been doing ever since to build his church community in and through CHS.

Simon Pearson shares about how he and Anne became involved in the planting of a new church.

CHS / Uturn Microsite

Dear neighbours,

We just wanted to let you know the exciting news, that we are setting up a temporary microsite in part of our building. CHS is partnering with homeless charity U-Turn, CAN Muizenberg, MID and other churches and NGOS to provide a home for 9 vulnerable women from the Muizenberg street community, from 4 June til 31 July.

A huge thank you to the many who have provided bedding and clothes for the microsite. We do still need help with food over the weekends. If you would like to support the women, you can drop off food supplies at Church of the Holy Spirit, 38 Raapkraal Road, Kirstenhof.

The team, led by U-Turn, will provide volunteers, medical support, food, psycho-social support, a development program and an exit strategy. They will be following comprehensive guidelines for how to run a Covid-19 compliant microsite for homeless people and will ensure compliance with all relevant regulations.

If you have any questions or would like to help please contact Judy at info@chscapetown.org

Loving our Neighbour

The Church of the Holy Spirit gave joyfully and collected over R80 000 in 12 days to share with our neighbours. As Lockdown kept most South Africans indoors and away from work or piece jobs, many of our church members and neighbours faced empty cupboards and hungry mouths to feed.

Over 40 households were helped with food parcels.

 

24-7 Prayer

Keegan and Brendan interview –

24-7 sign up sheet

Parish Daily Prayer Prompts

Virtual Prayer Room

In the Midst by Jenna Gilmour

In the Midst

Even when we are confined
When we are grieving the loss of the ‘normal’ we know
When we feel our souls pacing hallways of grief, sadness and fear
When we find ourselves grateful while some are overcome by restlessness

Even when we are so isolated
When we discover loneliness in being alone
When we long for freedom outdoors
When we find ourselves missing the embrace of friendship
When we only want to escape from a home that feels nothing like it should

Even when we are fighting an invisible foe
When we resent and deny
When we claw with frustration at this unwanted reality
When we blame and point and stereotype
When we hope segregation in separation will encourage a cure

Even when we lose sight of grace.
He calls us deep into our core for us to rediscover our humanity
He whispers urgently of the need to grow kindness from the inside out
He yearns for hearts to be still and know that we are not God.
He leads us on an introspective journey like no other, inviting us into prayerful contemplation

Even when we rock the boat with fear and despair
He does not leave us there
He asks merely that we take his hand in the storm
He urges us to find his presence in the boat
He implores us to trust when not one of us is able to fully comprehend

Even when our faith is shaking
He treats our anger with persistent patience
He cures our frustration as we allow Him to help us place others before ourselves
He feels our loss and calls for us to imagine and embrace a new future, a new society, a new world
He holds us in our discomfort in times of change and offers his Peace

And when we accept these gifts of Peace and Grace and have Faith
He shines through our weaknesses
A beacon of light and hope shattering the despair and darkness of our times
A child of God that loves the other, loves the outcast, loves the broken, loves the sick
A faith warrior that is activated and alive
Perhaps just by a glimpse of the radical sacrifice love of a servant king
The one who calls us to love with the same audacity in the midst of the anguish of today

By Jenna Gilmour

CHS Daily Devotion: Psalm 121 – Nikita Botha – 6 April 2020

Todays devotion provided by Nikita Botha of the St. John’s Parish Youth Pastors – PDF link below

Lockdown Perspective Psalm 121