today I attended a service in my old stomping ground, Sea Point (pictured). It was the investiture of men's and women's auxiliaries in the Methodist Church. OBSERVATION: It reminded me of the mission -- the regimentation in particular. I had opportunity to meet the new minister, too. First impressions were very good.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
I met with a young man for counselling once, who held a privileged position in Cape Town's GrandWest casino. Some gangsters had got the "drugs hook" into him -- which is, they had got him addicted. Now they threatened him with cold turkey if he didn't do them some favours. Then, too, they were terrorising him daily, popping up where he was least expecting them to. The trouble is, he suspected that the casino was now monitoring him, too. He didn't want to trade his position of privilege at the casino, he couldn't escape his tormentors, he couldn't quit the drugs, he felt that it was all too precarious to go to the police ... When I saw him, he had rings under his eyes, was panicked and tearful, and said he couldn't take any more. OBSERVATION: It was, needless to say, a complicated situation. I wrote down some spiritual priorities for him, and never heard from him again -- until recently. He had settled down, married a lovely young woman, and they were happy together. The casino and all its troubles were history.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
It has been one of my principles of ministry to engage with situations. There is, in our time, a general reluctance to engage, of which I take a dim view. Here are some examples of such engagement. Someone told me that their company had "discarded" them in retirement. I contacted the company. Someone told me that their landlord refused to repay a deposit. I went to see the landlord. Someone told me that they feared a confrontation. I said that I would do it for them if it would help. There have been some dangerous ones, too. For example, someone said that a man was threatening them with a gun. I went over and persuaded him to put it down.
A thriving Church, if it has one minister, is thought to have an upper limit of 150 people attending on a Sunday. Under my ministr(ies), Sunday attendances have from time to time broken through that upper limit -- sometimes over extended periods. Now, this post is about visitation in such a Church. I have aimed for one visit a day. That is apart from many other responsibilities in the Church. One would think that this would soon cover 150 people. Consider, though, that most visits are not "regular" visits -- which is to say, a minister is not going through the members one by one, but he or she pays many visits as the need arises. Then, I have found that one major crisis may easily take up 20 visits -- say, a death in the family. To help me keep my "forward motion" going, I have asked office secretaries to make one appointment for me each week with someone I did not see during the previous, say, six months -- certainly one year. In addition, I have had several visitation weeks each year, when I have not preached, but have focused more on visitation. And always, I have done Christmas visits. OBSERVATION: I have always consulted the Church Meeting about my visitation, so that members may know what to anticipate, and can inform me of any desired emphases. In a Congregational Church, of course, visitation is considered mandatory for all, not just the minister. Curiously, "regular" visitation is not considered mandatory for a minister in the Congregational Church.
Friday, November 17, 2017
OBSERVATION: There is the name of a Colonel here (Colonel Lento). See what my list looks like before the Colonel and after the Colonel. Is this noteworthy? You may click on the image to enlarge. It was under the Colonel's watch that, according to the Cluster, the police set me up. In this list, I had met him about a related matter.
A woman applied for Church membership once -- but she was living together with a man (cohabiting). It was a 25-year relationship, and they had two children together. We told her that she qualified in every way for membership -- except this, and this could be mended. Why should cohabitation be problematic in a progressive age? Here's why:
• What would we tell our youth if it was fine for others? At the time of this episode, youth in our Church were dying through cohabitation (AIDS).OBSERVATION: There is more to it than this. But as for the woman who applied for membership, she preferred not to change her way of life. The reason, she said, was that she was afraid of marriage after looking at other marriages. We urged her to trust God to bless the right decision. One of her children sadly died of AIDS.
• The Bible does not condone cohabitation -- for example Exodus 22:16. And
• There are in a Church those who have done it themselves, in the past. Paradoxically, it is these people who feel very strongly about it. One may have an insurrection if one ignores them.
OBSERVATION: Porcupines were a part of wife E's diet on the plateau where she grew up, and still provide an occasional feast for the family. A porcupine may easily weigh as much a a car tyre, or a dozen chickens.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
I looked in on one of our Church groups one night. One of our Youth leaders was there. I asked her how she was. She said: "Just a bit nervous, because I have to report on the Youth at our Church Meeting." Someone chipped in: "Oh, it’s easy. You do it like this: Four broken windows. Six smashed light-bulbs. Under our new integrated policy, we have a 2% reduction of damage since last year." OBSERVATION: This kind of situation is common in the Church. But what attitude shall one take? I advised this Youth leader to focus on "what God has done". Entire Youth works have collapsed because people focused on damage, disruption, misbehaviour, and so on. The price of the damage is small compared to the value of the ministry. Of course, one does what one can to limit damage.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
I have been sending out copies of my magnum opus to scores of people around the globe. It is a draft. In the process I have been in touch with some truly famous people. So far, there is a keen interest. My work is certainly causing a stir. But will it pass the test of scrutiny by those who are competent to scrutinise it? So far it has, but I keep asking myself how long it will be until someone finds the fatal flaw. OBSERVATION: My own assessment is that the concepts are sound. The question is whether I convey them successfully. Basically, I claim to have a postmodern metaphysic, which is largely thought to be impossible.
protégé -- I am mentoring him as a writer. The goal is to get him standing on his own two feet within a year -- which means that he would be in a position to submit his work and have it accepted without my involvement. That might be too ambitious, but we shall see.