“Soft Words turns away anger, but a sharp word makes tempers hot. A wise man’s tongue spreads knowledge, but a stupid man’s tongue talks nonsense.” Proverbs 15 v 1-3
The wind and the sun were arguing over which was the stronger. As they argued they noticed a traveller making his way across the country side below. “I’II tell you what,” exclaimed the wind, “the one that makes that person below take off his coat will be the stronger one.” So, the sun accepted the challenge. “As it was my idea,” continued the wind, “I’ II go first”. So, the wind swept down on the traveller and blew gust after gust at him, whipping fiercely at the coat. All that happened, was that the man grabbed his coat and wrapped it even tightly around himself. The wind became angrier and angrier and hurled itself across the countryside, whistling and howling as it tried to tear the coat from the man’s body. But the harder it blew, the tighter became the man’s grip on the coat. Eventually, utterly exhausted the wind blew itself out, and gave up. “watch this’ smiled the sun. It’s quite easy really. Turning towards the travelled, it released a few gentle rays, and then very gradually, turned up the heat. The traveller responded immediately. First, he loosened his coat and then, as he became hotter, took off the coat altogether.
The wind was aggressive in his approach, the sun was more tactful and used discretion. So, let us know when to be silent, when to speak, let us learn to be gentle with others at home or in this place of worship. Let us not be angry or egoistic or conceited or self-centred or self- absorbed or to be insensitive and selfish, let us laugh together and frown less. Let us be sensitive to the needs of others and to offer encouragement and support, we have no idea what they are going through. Let us continue to be instruments of peace and sons and daughters of encouragement. The world is full of angry people and we should be the ones that bring a ray of sunshine to a cold and hostile world.
The Discipline: Confession and Forgiveness
We all need the discipline of confession and forgiveness. Church leaders and all Christian people should be willing to confess and ask forgiveness and be forgiven and forgive. We need to confess our brokenness and we need to heal. In the Anglican Church going to confession is a practice done by a few people, this is tragic. Confession of sins is important as this leads to having good a relationship with God and with others. We can understand that we are all broken, we all mess up badly. The tragedy of collective confession done during the Eucharist just becomes mere words and seldom do we encounter God who brings healing and reconciliation. There is too much generalization in the collective confession. Collective confession has its place. We need to also practice individual confession. This takes away the speed often associated with the collective confession, gives time to listening, speaking and understanding, being absolved from our sins and this really becomes sacramental. So, let us practice the discipline of confession and forgiveness. This implies that we need to create a safe place for people to feel that they can come to confession. As a rule, confession done is confidentiality and the priest is not meant to remember that some-one came for confession. This is the safe space that has been violated many times. This must be adhered to by the priest listening to confession. There is no substitute for confidentiality. What is said in the confessional remains in the confessional.
Fr. Barnabas Nqindi
Jeremiah 29- Jeremiah’s letter to the Exiles in Babylon
The context of this letter is that Jeremiah sent it after the first group of exiles left in 597. Later groups would leave Israel in 587 and 582 B.C.. Jeremiah’s exhorts the children of Israel to get married and to build homes in exile. This reading points us toward examining our congregation a little more closely. How aware are we of an immigrant presence in our churches. How do we reach out to these immigrants? As we enter into yet another election you can be sure that immigration in our country will be on the top list, Jeremiah has something to say to us. Rather than using the legalistic language of illegal aliens, Jeremiah invites us to see immigrants in a whole new way. Instead of subjecting people to a cost-benefit analysis, Jeremiah sees the immigrant as gift. Jeremiah sees the immigrant as someone destined to make their new society a better place, someone ordered by God in this oracle to contribute to their new society in a lasting way. If we keep Jeremiah’s perspective in mind, we can only see immigrants as a gift. In these troubled economic times, this is an important message to share with our congregations who are often tempted to lash out at immigrants. This is also a message that immigrants themselves also need to hear who may be worn down by constant negative depictions. These negative depictions are the opposite of how Scripture understands immigrants. The Chancellor of Germany Merkel will be stepping down as the leader of Germany because she dared to welcome over 1 million Syrians in Germany. What she did was to show compassion from a country that was only known for killing Jews and equally it was master stroke because amongst all those millions are doctors and scientist and entrepreneurs, in fact Germany economy has not weakened but strengthened. If we listen to Trump we would ignore the facts that America was built by immigrants, from the Slaves to the Irish and Mexicans and the creation of the automatic technology and putting a man into space would not have been possible without Germany immigrants to America. Contrary to popular stories that Europe takes most of the immigrants actually it is Africa; poor as she is, she opens her borders from North to Southern Africa. So Jeremiah was saying to the children of Israel you have many gifts put them to good use so that the cities that you live in will prosper as well. It is also an exhortation to the local inhabitants to welcome immigrants because they welfare is equally tied to our own welfare. Sociologists noted the revitalization of a number of cities across the world who have benefitted from immigrants. Johannesburg was largely built by immigrants, Durban indentured Indians built Durban Cities are transformed. Jeremiah’s letter offers a formula for transformation. Hope replaces despair as immigrants can get work and put down roots where they live rather than living in constant fear of deportation. Congregations may need to be reminded that v. 7 only makes sense if immigrants find a welcome in our society. People have emigrated since biblical times, and the Bible calls us to compassion and love in response to immigration. Our gospel raises up the ultimate outsider, a Samaritan leper, as hero. No one could be more hated than a Samaritan in Israel, yet Luke demonstrates that only the Samaritan demonstrates gratitude. Earlier in the gospel, only the Samaritan stopped to help the distressed victim. Both in biblical times and in our own time, the Bible points to how much immigrants have to offer. We all have members of our families that are living abroad or other countries and the pressure these face each day, deportation, loss of permit, loss of jobs, repatriation, these are realities of all immigrants across the world whatever colour or nationality. So Jeremiah is exhorting us to be aware of our neighbours those who are immigrants. As he says our welfare is equally tied to ours as well. Let us this day remember all those that are applying for permits to stay here in South Africa or those whom we might know battling for renewal or applying to be here or to stay abroad. Let us be a compassionate people for God says to the Children of Isreal, Exodus 22 says, Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Exodus 23:9: Do not oppress a foreign resident, since you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners; for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Jeremiah 22:3: This is what the LORD says: Administer justice and righteousness. Rescue the victim of robbery from the hand of his oppressor. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow. Do not shed innocent blood in this place. Exodus 20:2: I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
My name is Barnabas Sibusiso Nqindi, rector of St Barnabas-Bluff. I enjoy a good debate and I love to see people grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ