Grace, peace and blessings to you and your loved ones in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
I trust that you are well, energized and blessed by the presence of our Triune God.
Recently we celebrated Pentecost which speaks about the coming down of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian church. Acts chapter 2 verses 42-47 describes this dynamic community of believers saying that they gathered together daily, devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, broke bread together, sold their possessions and gave to anyone as needed. And the Lord added to their numbers daily. I wonder whether our churches today can be described in this way. Do we have the passion, devotion and joy to serve God as these early New Testament Christians? Sometimes we seem to have it all together yet something powerful and significant seems to be missing.
The prophet Ezekiel speaks about this in chapter 37. In verse 8 we read: “Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.” A reference is made to the house of Israel who said: “Our bones are dry, our hope lost, and we ourselves are cut off (v.11).” And then God responded by saying, “I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live …” (v14). Perhaps, this is what God wants to do with his church as he calls us to live in the power of his Holy Spirit. He wants us to go out into the world and be a movement as we move people on to God’s agenda.
We can only do this through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
We are steadily moving closer to our 2012 General Assembly which takes place from the 14th to 20th July at the University of Stellenbosch. Among the many things that we will be discussing at the Assembly is the relevance and impact of Reformed Churches today. We have invited Prof Russell Botman, the Rector and Vice Chancellor of the University of Stellenbosch, to address us on this subject. Prof. Botman has served at one time as President of the South African Alliance of Reformed Churches, President of the SACC and in various positions in the ecumenical movement. We are hoping that this conversation would help inspire and stimulate our church to address issues of relevance and growth.
The Assembly will implement the new Assembly committee structure which now consists of 14 committees instead of the previous 66. The Nominations Committee will propose names of conveners and members to serve in this new structure. We will, worship together daily, fellowship, share in bible studies and group work, break bread together, receive reports from committees, discuss in small groups, make decisions on a number of matters, receive fraternal greetings and celebrate what God is doing amongst us and through us as a denomination. We will look at the vision, mission, priorities and finances of the UPCSA. One of the very serious matters on the Agenda is the issue of Church Associations and the Assembly will be requested to prayerfully discern the way forward on this matter which has brought so much of disunity, pain and struggle in the UPCSA. As we tackle all of these challenges we need to be reminded of our purpose as a church and we need to rely on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us into the mind of Christ. On our own we will seek solutions on our own terms which often bring restlessness and trouble; we need to allow God’s Spirit to lead us into God’s agenda for us as a church.
Please remember the Assembly in your constant prayers: the safety of commissioners as they travel to and from Stellenbosch, give thanks for the work of the outgoing Moderator (The Rev Dr George Marchinkowski), the incoming Moderator (The Rev. Rod Botsis) as he prepares to moderate the Assembly, the election of the Moderator-designate, the presentation of reports and decisions that would be made. Pray that we would leave the Assembly saying that “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us“as recorded in Acts 15:28. Pray for the Local Organising Committee and the Presbytery of the Western Cape as they host us and all those who will participate in various ways.
We hope to provide daily updated information on the UPCSA website during the Assembly. We would thus encourage you to login on www.upcsa.org.za and follow our events, discussions and decisions and, more significantly, pray with us and for us at the Assembly. We want to use this gathering as an event to draw us together, keep us connected, build the UPCSA community, get excited about the work and witness of the Church, and strengthen the bonds of unity and peace as we seek to serve God in the world together.
God is calling us to come back to our first love (to Him), not to become lukewarm or disobedient but to passionately and joyfully fulfill God’s purpose of bringing the lost into his amazing grace and love, and it is about time that we took his call seriously if we are not, lest we face the judgments made on the churches which ‘missed the mark’ as recorded in the book of Revelations.
Be Spirit-filled and joyful abounding in love, hope and faith!
May the grace and peace of God be with you both now and always!