Advent greetings to you as we look with expectancy to Jesus’ second coming.
As we journey towards the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world, we cannot take our eyes away from the suffering of so many people in the world. There are currently 40 countries are at war or in conflict around the world at the moment. Let us hold them in our prayers and especially the people of Sudan, the DRC, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine. How tragic it is that there will be no Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, Palestine, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. It is predicted that more than 30 000 Palestinians, mainly women and children, might have lost their lives by Christmas. How very, very sad.
Yet, in the midst of this, Christ continues to be our hope and fortress as we pray for a better tomorrow for all God’s people.
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Our expectancy for Christ’s second coming pushes us to be involved in proclaiming Him to the world by living in hope, working for peace in the world, being faithful, encouraging others to be faithful and spreading his love to all in the world.
We give thanks to God for ongoing growth in our diocese, that people still hear his voice and respond to it, especially to the ordained ministry. We are grateful for the lives of Zukile Dondolo and Jeremy Smith who were ordained to the priesthood on Sunday, 3rd December, at the St George’s, Cathedral. We pray God’s blessing on their lives and the lives of their family. We welcome home Keegan Davids and Avron Flowers, who spent this year at the College of the Transfiguration in Makhanda. They were both licenced as parish workers in their respective parishes and we hope to make them deacons after Easter. Keegan is serving his placement in the parish of St Saviours, Claremont and Avron in the parish of St Cyprian’s, Retreat. Please keep them in your prayers.
We are grateful that we can continue to send people to COTT and for 2024 we will enrol four students.
Sithembiso Buqa will be finishing his final year.
Greg Amos’ status has been changed from non-stipendiary to stipendiary ministry, so he will spend next year at COTT.
Ryan Baatjies will be accompanied by his wife Nadine and daughter, Mia. They will be going for a year.
Jesse Pastor will be going for 3 years. So, the position of the YPM Co-ordinator becomes vacant and we hope to advertise early in the new year, so watch this space.
Please keep them in prayer as they allow their time at COTT to be a time of formation for the ordained ministry.
Pray also for the ordinands in our local programme and for Reverend Grant Damoes as he journeys with them.
St Luke’s, Salt River, celebrated their 140th anniversary and one of the highlights was the admission of eight female servers on Pentecost Sunday. I also licensed their first female layminister on Advent Sunday. Both events are historical in the life of this parish, and we give thanks to God for Reverend Clifford Jones and others who made this possible.
As we are journeying through the 16 days against Gender Based Violence, we pray that we will reach a time when we do not have to highlight a specific time to make people aware of this scourge, but that we will respect each other’s humanity and treat the next person with dignity and respect, irrespective of their gender but instead, allow the ‘Jesus in me to meet the Jesus in you’.
We, as the Anglican Communion, continue to focus on the Lambeth Calls and the next one is ‘Our Anglican Identity”. I would like to encourage each parish and individual to join the conversation by going to the Lambeth Conference Phase 3 website and join the webinar sessions which will be in February 2024.
I pray that you are having a spirit-filled Advent journey, which will allow us to have a blessed Christmas. Amidst our busyness, let us use the last few days to focus on the importance of celebrating Christmas and prepare ourselves for his second coming establishing his kingdom of love, peace, justice and fellowship here on earth. Emmanuel! God with us!
I will be on leave from 27th December 2023 and return to the office the beginning of February 2024.
Joan and I wish you and your family a blessed and joyous Christmas season.