St Paul probably had something else in mind when he spoke in 2 Corinthians 3:18 about our unveiled faces reflecting the glory of God :) but doesn’t it feel like a significant threshold that we have crossed, now that the last of the Covid regulations have been repealed?
Our young adults home group restarted this last week after a long break. Honestly, it's been difficult to get going again - we got out of the habit of meeting in person during the various levels of lockdown and starting again feels like exercising a muscle that hasn't been used in years! Many of our groups have experienced a similar lethargy and found it hard to get going again.
For many months during the pandemic the Westville Churches Foodbank has operated from our property, and what a remarkable ministry it has been! Thousands of rands worth of food were distributed each week using a very well organised system for tracking individuals and their specific needs. It was especially encouraging during this time to hear from people who were able to report that they had managed to get back on their feet and no longer needed our help.
This last Sunday in our 9am service we were privileged to celebrate the baptism of little Bryce – one of the most cheerful babies I’ve met in a while :) It’s a significant moment for the child and family, but also a reminder to all of us that we are loved as that baby is – with no strings or conditions attached. In some Christian traditions baptism is held back until the person is able to make that choice for themselves. I appreciate and respect that perspective, but I think that our role is only part of the story.
Our Exec met this week and we reflected on just how hard things have been for so many people in our community recently. We have seen a fantastic response from our congregation when it comes to helping flood victims and the ongoing work of our other relief projects, but as we met we wondered how we might also more effectively support our WMC members.
Over the course of this last week our District synod has gathered, principally in Westville, but also via Zoom in locations around the province. As always, synod has had wonderful moments of celebration and re-connecting with Methodists from across KZN. We have however also had to grapple with significant challenges that our church is facing in the fallout from the pandemic and other crises we have experienced recently in KZN.
This week we are hosting ministers and lay leaders from around the greater Durban area for our annual District synod. If you’re unfamiliar with Methodist-speak, in our language Westville Methodist Church is a SOCIETY which belongs to a CIRCUIT (the Durban Metro Circuit) in a DISTRICT (the Natal Coastal District) all of which is part our CONNEXION (the Methodist Church of Southern Africa).
Our lectionary readings this weekend include the 23rd psalm and a passage from John 10 where Jesus says that he is our shepherd and we are his sheep. It’s not the most flattering image – being a sheep, that is – sheep are constantly in need of rescuing and are not known for their intellectual gifts!
Easter Sunday felt to me like a bright light in the midst of a very dark season. As we moved through Lent and drew nearer to the cross, it seemed that our whole community was plunged into darkness – in some cases literally (due to the power cuts we have experienced) but also through the terrible devastation of the floods. And so it was wonderful to be together on Easter Sunday and to feel our hope renewed as we were reminded that God is able to redeem even the most awful circumstances.
The sun is shining brightly this morning (Thursday) as I write this, but we’re all still feeling bruised by the events of the last few days. Some of us have experienced significant trauma and loss; others are trying to get on with life amidst water shortages, power issues and ongoing clean-up efforts in our neighbourhoods; still others are experiencing a kind of ‘survivor guilt’ – aware of the loss around us and conscious that we have come through this relatively unscathed. In the midst of all this, there are hopeful signs as community members rally to comfort and practically support each other (look out for the appeal in this week's Staying Connected to see if you can help in any way).