FOLLOWING JESUS  @  VINEYARD COMMUNITY CENTRE

Easter Sunday 27 March 2016.         Pastoral Letter:  Live Resurrection Now

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.  Do YOU believe this?”   (John 11:25-26)

Dear family and friends – fellow followers of Jesus!

If Jesus did not physically rise from the grave, defeating the power of death, our faith would be in vain!  The story of Jesus would be a hoax, a religious fairy tale. BUT, he DID rise from the dead!  He HAS defeated death!  He IS physically alive, seated at God’s right hand in the heavens, ruling over reality.  HIS resurrection Reality breaks into OUR human reality of sin and death, giving us resurrection now.  Our challenge is to learn to live it:  To trust the God of surprises for daily in-breaking of HIS life, power, faith, hope and love, where ours is all but dead and buried!  The God of resurrection gives new life and hope where hopelessness and death apparently reign.  This is seen in Jesus when he stood at Lazarus’ tomb facing death. He said, “Lazarus, come out!” Life entered Lazarus’ body. He came out of the tomb. Put your faith in Jesus. Hear his voice calling YOU out of whatever death you find yourself in.  No matter how bad, sinful, tragic, painful or hopeless your situation is, Jesus is there for you, right in front of you, calling you to new life right now.  Stand up and go to him!  Do you believe this?

Many of us had a very pressurized start to the year – in family, work and business, let alone the growing socio-economic-political challenges in our nation – so “Finding Sanctuary” was definitely from the Lord!  All I can do, as your pastor, is to strongly encourage you to fight for quality time daily to keep finding and building sanctuary in God’s presence, with his Word, where sanity, peace and love reign.  It will restore your perspective and your soul daily!

Our overall goal this year is still a) to turn the church outwards to engage the world, to share Jesus with people who don’t have relationship with him, to work for social transformation for God’s sake, for South Africa’s sake… and b) to grow the children’s church, youth and young adults ministry in our church!  We presented the Sunday series “Who is Jesus… Really?” as a means of reaching out to invite others to hear how relevant Jesus is to our society and the issues we all face.  We trust the series was meaningful for you and friends you may have invited? Any feedback is welcome – especially if people came to know Jesus! A few members who are seeking more crossing of barriers and reconciliation in their own lives, and to help FJ in this regard, met to follow up on the Sunday talks.  If your heart is to do the same, you might want to join this group. Let me know or contact Trevor Davies (079-039-7863).

We’re furthering this reaching out with the Alpha Course, which starts on 12 April, Tuesday night at 19h00.  Two Alphas will run at the same time:  the adult’s course in the Main Hall, and the teen youth course in the Youth Hall.  Our ‘prayer-goal’ is for 50 people to be part of the Alpha process, so three things are really important here:

  • Prayerfully invite family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours – especially the youth – to register to attend the Alpha course. We have flyers on the tables at church. Use them to invite people. Alpha’s success depends on the new folk coming to ask their questions!
  • Volunteers: we need helpers to commit in various areas of serving Alpha – please come to the training on Tuesday nights, 29 March and 5 April, at 19h30 in the training room in our church offices. Andrew Davies will guide and prepare us in areas of service.
  • Most important is to PRAY AND INTERCEDE for God’s blessing, intervention, salvation! Prayer will draw those God has prepared. It’s 10 weeks, so we need sustained prayer!

And our plan is to do a second Alpha, to build on the momentum of the first one, in the 3rd quarter after the mid-year holidays.  It’s all part of turning us outward into a church with a heart for people who don’t know – and really need – Jesus.  On this note, I again introduce Andrew Davies:  We’ve employed him part-time to help the children’s church and the youth leaders – to motivate these two vital ministries in our church – and to co-ordinate the Alpha courses.  Andrew’s passion is to plant a church one day; so he’s interning with me and the leaders here in FJ.  Please welcome him and work well with him, as I believe God is using him to bring energy and commitment to some key ministries in our church. E.g. he’s meeting with ALL parents in FJ who have teenage youth, on Sunday 3 April right after church, to talk about the (re)launch of our Youth Church, planned for Sunday 8 May.  Please come to that meeting!

This also then raises our finances:  Thank you to every one who gives to God – by giving to FJ – as your act of worship and faith in God. We’re growing as a church in terms of ministry, which also includes our budget: Trusting God for R155 000 pm. So pray and give with us, that we (as the OT) can do all we believe God wants us to do. The bank details are in the monthly bulletin for those who want to do an EFT.  Regarding building development: we’re completing the coffee/tea platform – we must still get some large umbrellas; there will be railings on the new stairs going up into the main hall; the paved road around the hall to the car park will be completed; and we plan to build a ‘Welcome & Info Gazebo’ in the garden outside the main hall.  Medium term projects are a toilet block at the Children/Youth church, and renovating the Site-Manager’s house.  If God gives you extra surplus, please consider giving to our building fund so we can complete these projects – mark your gift ‘building fund’ – THANKS!

And just two more things for this pastoral letter!  We are conscious of the need to facilitate discipleship and growth in Christ for all our present members and for new followers of Jesus. To this end I have decided to do a teaching series on Sunday mornings through the book of Ephesians, called “Being Christian, Being Church”.  It will start on Sunday 10 April. BTW, the Sunday before that, 3 April, I have invited Robyn Wolfson-Vorster, to come and address the church on “The Challenge of Orphans, Adoptions and Abandoned Babies in SA”.  Robyn is a journalist who writes in this space, but more importantly, she and Neil have adopted a child out of conviction to live their beliefs in this regard. Invite your friends, this will be good!!

Lastly, for your awareness, we’ll be offering discipleship courses from the next quarter, to be hosted in various home groups. Over the years I’ve developed a series of discipleship courses – each one runs for 6 weeks on an input and group discussion basis – designed to grow followers of Jesus from the foundational principles of Christian faith right through to maturity in Christ.  We’ll start off low key due to the priority of the Alpha course, but we will advertise what is being offered where in the next quarter once I’ve liaised with the home group leaders.  Then you can your choice as to what course you need for the next steps in your following of Jesus.  But just to remind you: There’s a once-off workshop on Sat 16 April, from 09h00-12h30 at VCC – this will be focused on Enneagram – a great means of personal growth and self-understanding, led by Charmaine Raftesath.

Thanks so much to each and every one of you for being part of this family of faith. Gill and I, and the OT, feel so honoured by God to be part of your life, and to help lead and facilitate your following of Jesus!  My message to you today is simply  LIVE RESURRECTION NOW!

God bless,

Alexander & Gill and the OT