Monday, June 25, 2018

Professionals In The Church

As I have travelled through ministry, I have become more aware of professionals who are "there for the ride". I speak not merely of my own ministr(ies) but of wider experience in the Church. In particular, lawyers, doctors, and accountants may offer their services to a Church, not so much for love of the Church or the gospel, as for personal gain or advancement. One may however think of almost any profession. OBSERVATION: This may not be at all apparent at the start. While personal gain or advancement may not be much of a problem to the Church, there are hidden rocks in it besides. However, I have come across such professionals whom I consider to have been completely genuine -- good-hearted, generous, and warmly disposed to God's work. It is something to be aware of.

Bride And Bridesmaid

It's a photo of the bride and (a) bridesmaid at son M's wedding on Saturday. This one stood out for me. You may click on it to enlarge.

Not The Culture

Writing this post at an inter-city bus terminal, there is the perception that the chaos in South Africa, where it occurs, is accepted as part of the culture. Take, for example, this bus terminal's Internet connection. My computer reports that it is "malicious". Or the parking space. It is tiny and besieged -- compared with the vastness of the terminal. The buses may run hours late, and be crawling with insects. The majority of ticket offices may suffer different malfunctions on the same day. And so on. Yet I just heard a comment that one often hears: "I don't know why our people can't get it right." It is not thought to be normal. OBSERVATION: By way of contrast, many things are done very well in South Africa. For example, I sought to re-register my three-wheeler recently, and it took me three minutes flat.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Cutting The Cake

My son was married yesterday to a lovely Muscovite. A Roman Catholic monk, on meeting her for the first time, said: "She's different!" OBSERVATION: My little sister made the cake. One sees the bride's hand hovering at the side of the cake -- perhaps with the legendary toppling of my own wedding cake in mind. One may click on the photo to enlarge.

The Rock Of Offence

Any man or woman who goes into ministry must expect that, if they are doing their job, they will inevitably be savaged by people. The Bible itself says that Christ is "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence -- they stumble because they disobey the message". And notice that this verse recoils on the listeners. The apostles got into such serious trouble that, apparently, only one escaped with his life -- and he was exiled. OBSERVATION: The question is, may one tailor one's gospel to remove offence? Here I think the Scriptures give us the lead, which includes the example of Christ. Yes and no. But during the last generation, something has changed: many ministers today carefully avoid giving offence in every way. I think that, while some wisdom is advised, it cannot be done. One gets wounded in the fray.

Entrance To Heaven?

I was in a Church hall in central Cape Town yesterday, and took a peep behind the curtain to the stage. I had expected to find it all dark. Instead I found this "Aladdin's Cave" -- and took the photo. OBSERVATION: Perhaps that is the entrance to heaven, top left. It is St. Martini Lutheran Church.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Foot Washing

This is one of the more interesting photos of my son's wedding today. The bride is washing the groom's feet. This takes the example of John 13:5: "Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet." It symbolises that the relationship will be one of service. The groom did the same for the bride.

Unforgettable Moments

Certain weddings have unforgettable moments -- for all the wrong reasons. The unforgettable moment of my own wedding to E was when the three-tier cake toppled. Even today, at son M's wedding, a nephew came to me and asked: "Is it true that the cake toppled?" Well, yes, in my very own hands -- though not completely. This came up several times today. OBSERVATION: My favourite incidents, among weddings that I have conducted: a bride who tripped over her train and fell in the mud, before she entered the Church -- and a ring-bearer who dropped a ring at the critical moment, which went rolling under the pews.

Modern Couple

I titled this photo "Modern Couple" on Facebook. It is my son with his fiancée. They are to be married this morning at 11:30 am in Holy Trinity Church Gardens. In my toast, I call them "talented, handsome, energetic, brilliant, far-sighted, principled young people".

Friday, June 22, 2018

★★★★ First Review

An Amazon TOP 500 REVIEWER delivered the first review of my book An Arranged Love today. His conclusion:
"I feel that this book must be read by all across the globe as it gives importance on family life, bonding, love and affection that is beyond culture, race, religion and customs."
The various print and Kindle editions are displayed (a little haphazardly) at my Amazon Author Page.

Shifting Liturgy

Fifty years ago, a standard order of service in a Congregational Church might have looked like this:
Hymn / Call to Worship / Hymn / Prayer / Lord’s Prayer / Hymn / Reading / Gloria / Reading / Anthem / Prayer / Offertory / Hymn / Sermon / Hymn / Prayer / Benediction 
It is sometimes called a “sandwich” service, for all the layers! By the 1990s, about one-third of these items had been removed or merged with others. Twenty years later, in my own ministry, about half were gone -- and special items, which are virtually non-existent above, were common. In fact special items were common in early Congregationalism. OBSERVATION: I think that simplification was important to the life of the Church, as well as the added special items.

Small Shul Bar Mitzvah

It's another photo of a pre bar mitzvah event I attended yesterday, in the "Small Shul" in Sea Point, Cape Town. This was very well attended. OBSERVATION: What struck me in particular was an unusual mix of formality and informality all the way through.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Police Assault

With respect, I am posting a brief recording of a police Shift Commander -- here apologising to me for assaulting me (he has a heavy South African accent) -- after he threw me against a wall. I was insisting on a case number, in a case that went badly wrong. I asked to see him after he had calmed down -- this is when I recorded this. I recorded the assault, too, but my recording device (under cover) failed at the start of the assault. OBSERVATION: Even after this assault, there have been gross violations of procedure. Among other things, police handed the docket to one of those I brought charges against -- Senior Prosecutor David A. Jacobs -- who then personally quashed it. The charges against him were for covering police tracks -- now he covered his own tracks.

POSTSCRIPT: Brigadier Hansia Hansraj assumed personal responsibility for the case -- which, sadly, has been marked by truly wayward behaviour all the way through. I have asked that the people responsible be removed from office. Thanks to GroundUp for the photo of the police station.

Thembalethu In Flames

I was (am) scheduled to visit Thembalethu in the next few days, one of Africa's southernmost cities. But Thembalethu is in flames. All routes in and out of Thembalethu are barricaded, as is the national road which passes by. This morning they manned the barricades from 1:00 am. OBSERVATION: I know Thembalethu well -- there are several photos of the city on this blog. This unrest is fairly recent. While there may not be a strong correlation, it is since the Democratic Alliance took the city. One may Google "Thembalethu" for a summary of the situation.

Bar Mitzvah Blessing

This morning I attended synagogue for a pre-bar mitzvah blessing on a boy -- in fact, one of my wife's charges -- she is an au pair. The rabbi is in the middle -- the boy's father on the right. OBSERVATION: Although this is an intimate photo, there were about a hundred people assembled. I myself have been promoted to the office of rabbi -- the rabbi called me "Rabbi" today. I felt privileged to be invited.