Category Archives: Sermon Series

Sermon Series – 29 May – 4 June 2017

Joy Series
Week #5: Pillars of Joy – Part 2
(Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 29th May to 4th June 2017)
FOCUS PASSAGE/S: Various texts included in questions below.
Part 2 of the Pillars of Joy focusses on 4 qualities of the heart: forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity.
1. Read Matthew 6:9-15. The sentiment “forgive and forget” can be unhelpful to those who have experienced deep pain. Discuss: “Instead, forgiveness is a choice, for without it we remain tethered to the person who harmed us… they hold the keys to our happiness. When we forgive we take back control of our emotions and live healthier daily lives.”
2. Read 1 Thess. 5:12-18. Discuss: “Gratitude is the recognition of all that holds us in the web of life and all that has made it possible to have the life we have and the moment that we are experiencing. Thanksgiving is a natural response to life and may be the only way to savour it.”
3. How is every moment a gift and an opportunity for us to express gratitude?
4. Read Mark 5:35-42. Compassion…’suffering with’… How do you respond to the statement, “I have enough problems of my own. Why should I worry about being more compassionate and think about others who are suffering?” Why do you think compassion is in our self-interest?
5. How is cultivating compassion an alchemy that transforms your own struggles, pain and suffering in order to joyfully focus on others?
6. Read 2 Cor. 8:1-15. In regards generosity Tutu says, “It is in giving that we receive… When we grow in a self-forgetfulness – in a remarkable way I mean we discover that we are filled with joy… in the end generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful.” How does/has compassion lead to generosity in your life/faith so that it expresses our interdependence and personal long-term well-being?
7. Generosity is deeply rooted in us. How have you experienced generosity, especially by someone who materially has very little? What was your attitude and how was joy a part of that experience?
PRAYER TOPICS:
Light a candle as a symbol of Christ’s presence in your midst.
 We continue to pray for the Nation – for truth to be revealed especially in regards to corruption, and mismanagement of state resources that affects all but especially the poorest of the poor.
 Continue to pray for the situations in regards to crime, rape, femicide and all forms of gender-based violence. Pray for voices that will speak out in our own community and throughout the land that give a clear message that any form of sexual violation and exploitation is ‘simply not okay!’ Pray for those who work in safe houses and for security personnel who are investigating and fighting against these acts.
 Pray for the ministry and mission projects of HMC so that the love of God is spread to all and that compassion and generosity will be at the forefront of this witness.
 Pray for each other as you’ve shared together and identified needs within in your group – we pray that joy will be cultivated within our hearts and minds.
Amen.

Seven Questions : 22 – 28 May 2017

Joy Series

Week #4: Pillars of Joy – Part 1

 (Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 22nd – 28th May 2017)

 

FOCUS PASSAGE/S: Isaiah 51:1-11 and 1 Peter 1:8-9 – read and discuss you initial response.

Part 1 of the Pillars of Joy focusses on 4 qualities of the mind: perspective, humility, humour and acceptance. Next week we’ll look at the Pillars to focus on the heart.

  1. A healthy perspective is the foundation of joy because the way we see the world is the way we experience the world. Stepping back – taking a look at an experience from different angles gives a new perspective. How can stepping back reveal the truth, deepen our faith and help us to find the good things in that experience?

 

  1. In Peter’s letter he says we believe and love and rejoice with joy even though we’ve not seen God. How has a refining experience (past of present) produced joy in you through that experience?

 

  1. Both men insist that “humility is essential to any possibility of joy.” A wider perspective gives rise to our understanding of our place in this world – our interdependence and mutual support. How do you think humility opens up the door for joy to be cultivated within, as we express the God-given gifts for God’s glory?

 

  1. What do you think about this statement: “When we have humility, we can laugh at ourselves… and especially the ability to laugh at our foibles, as essential to the cultivation of joy”?

 

  1. Read Isaiah 51:11. Think back to a time when you laughed with great abandon… a really good belly laugh. Without sounding flippant, could humour be the ‘secret weapon’ to dispelling a tense situation either in your life or in our community? How can humour unite instead of breakdown community?

 

  1. “Acceptance… is the opposite of resignation and defeat… The Archbishop did not accept the inevitability of apartheid, but he did accept its reality.” How can we use acceptance to engage with life so that we move into the fullness of God’s joy?

 

  1. Our reaction to people, places, things and circumstances causes suffering, rather than acceptance. We react and it’s impossible to experience joy when we are stuck in this way. What role does acceptance play in helping us to see clearly and respond differently so that our needs and that of our community are met?

 

 

PRAYER TOPIC: Light a candle as a symbol of Christ’s presence in your midst.

We continue to pray for the Nation.

We think especially of the matters in the news around misogyny, rape and violence, especially towards women and children. Pray for voices that will speak out in our own community and throughout the land that give a clear message that any form of sexual violation and exploitation is ‘simply not okay!’

Pray for those who are in need of healing, love and comfort.

Pray for each other as you’ve shared together and identified needs within in your group – we pray that joy will be cultivated within our hearts and minds.

Amen.

SEVEN QUESTIONS 8 – 14 MAY 2017

Joy Series

Week #2: The Nature of True Joy

 (Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 8th – 14th May 2017)

FOCUS PASSAGES: Isaiah 55:1-13 and James 1:3-5

  1. Read Isaiah 55:1-13 and James 1:3-5. What are your immediate thoughts/observations about these passages?
  1. The Dalai Lama tells the story of his life, exile from his homeland and people – it’s a story of pain and suffering. Before Desmond Tutu responds with his life-story, Tutu asks a question of the Dalai Lama – Why are you not morose? It’s an interesting question. Review your life – how has periods of trial and struggle formed your world view? Have these experiences shaped your response to life in general?
  1. Discuss your thoughts on the statement: “Joy subsumes (meaning: to place within something bigger) Joy is the greater thing.”
  1. Joy is something that comes from within – it’s more than happiness that is often a fleeting response to an experience. Joy is longer lasting. The Dalai Lama makes the point that Joy can evoke a wide range of feelings from rejoicing in someone else’s happiness, delight or contentment to spiritual radiance (a serene joy born from deep well-being and benevolence). Looking at our Bible passages how can we relate these sentiments to our faith as Christians?
  1. Read James 1:3-5 again. How have you been able to maintain Joy (a fruit of the Spirit) in the face any difficult circumstances you may be facing right now.
  1. Given your response in question 5 – how can looking beyond oneself and being generous (not just in resources) towards others, be a way to discover your own inner Joy and deepen your faith?
  1. We are all wired to be compassionate. What do you think of this statement: “Compassion is a feature of strength, not a weakness.” How will this shape your response to a world that needs Joy that comes from God?

 

PRAYER TOPIC: Light a candle as a symbol of Christ’s presence in your midst.

We continue to pray for the Nation. Pray for those in your group who have expressed personal stories in relation to Joy. Pray for those struggling to enjoy basic needs of food, shelter, security and comfort. Pray for leaders in church, community, business and government around the world.

Amen.

SEVEN QUESTIONS 30 APRIL 2017

3rd Sunday in Easter: A Chat Along the Road
Sunday 30th April
(Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 24th to 30th April 2017)
ICE BREAKER: Tell of an interesting conversation you’ve had with a complete stranger.
FOCUS PASSAGE: Luke 24:13-35
1. Read Luke 24:13-35. What are your immediate thoughts/observations about this passage?
2. Looking at the events spoken about in the passage, do you think there were or weren’t good reasons for these two men to be discouraged?
3. Jesus displays great patience with these men. Read Psalm 62:8 and Hebrews 4:16. What do these passages tell us of God’s endless patience with us? What can we learn from these two readings?
4. Romans 10:17 says that, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” How did Jesus open the word to them? How well are we listening in order to receive a fresh understanding of the Word of God?
5. Have you ever had a ‘burning within you’ experience? How as this a blessing to you? Share this with your group – what lesson/impact did it have on your walk of faith?
6. When it comes to our faith and service to God – what do you think it means to have a burning heart – and how will others recognise Jesus as they interact with you?
7. The ‘breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:30, 35) refers to a meal and not the Lord’s Supper – he revealed himself during a common meal – how have you experienced Jesus work in this way in your life of the life of the community? What was the blessing in this instance?
PRAYER TOPIC: Light a candle as a symbol of Christ’s presence in your midst.
Pray for our Nation, for her Leaders, for Organisational Leaders. Pray for bold leaders who will speak truth and lead with integrity. Pray for wisdom in decisions taken so that the needs of all people of considered and served.
Pray for the Nations, especially for Syria; and the Trump/Putin debacle.
Pray for the on-going Enviroserv issue – especially that those involved will be transparent and where necessary to take responsibility, so that all people can breathe pure and clean air.
Amen.

NO SEVEN QUESTIONS

Dear All,

In view of the Holy Week Services, which we’d like you to encourage your members to attend as they are able, we’re not producing 7 Questions this week.

We trust that you will find this a deeply personal time of reflection on Christ’s love and sacrifice for each one of us.

Please continue to hold the nation and indeed the nations of the world in prayer.  Below is Hymn 413 in our Methodist Hymn book that was read during the Prayer service on Friday and again in yesterday’s morning services. Let us pray for peace.

We pray for peace,
but not the easy peace
built on complacency
and not the truth of God.
We pray for real peace,
the peace God’s love alone can seal.

We pray for peace,
but not the cruel peace,
leaving God’s poor bereft
and dying in distress,
we pray for real peace,
enriching all the human race.

We pray for peace,
and not the evil peace,
defending unjust laws
and nursing prejudice,
but for the real peace
of justice, mercy, truth and love.

We pray for peace:
holy communion
with Christ our risen Lord
and every living thing;
God’s will fulfilled on earth
and all his creatures reconciled.

We pray for peace,
and for the sake of peace,
look to the risen Christ
who gives the grace we need,
to serve the cause of peace
and make our own self-sacrifice.

God, give us peace:
if you withdraw your love,
there is no peace for us
nor any hope of it.
With you to lead us on,
through death or tumult, peace will come.

With love and blessings,

Wendi 

Seven Questions 3 – 9 April

Lenten Focus: John – The Gospel of Light and Life

Sunday 9th April  – The Arrest, Trial & Crucifixion of the King

(Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 3rd – 9th April 2017)

ICE BREAKER: What’s your favourite board game – what strategy do you use to play the game?

 

FOCUS PASSAGE: John 18:1-14 (Read the rest of Chapter 18 and 19 during the week).

  1. Read Mark 14:33-35 & John 18:1-14. What do you notice that is different in the emphasis between the way Jesus is portrayed in these Gospel accounts?

 

  1. Why do you think John’s doesn’t include any of Jesus’ anguish in the garden, or in his prayers? What example is this to us of Jesus’ authority as he was facing certain arrest?

 

  1. Read verses 4-7 again. Jesus is facing a cohort (approx. 600 hundred soldiers) of Roman Soldiers. What is the significance of Jesus’ answer “I am”? in verse 5?

 

  1. Adam Hamilton tells a story of a game he played with his children. They’d tackle him or wrap their legs around his legs and say, “We’ve got you, Daddy!”. Then he’d pick them up and throw them over his shoulders and say, “Now, who has who?” The power and control had shifted. Jesus willingly presented himself for arrest. What does this say to us of Jesus control of the situation?

 

  1. In your relationship with Jesus – who has who? Where do you need to allow Jesus to have control of your faith, situations in your life?

 

  1. Where do you need to trust Jesus to have control of things that are beyond your control?

 

  1. As we look to the cross that is coming – what event in John’s account of Jesus’ arrest, his trial, and crucifixion speaks to you the most today?

 

PRAYER TOPIC: Light a candle as a symbol of Christ’s presence in your midst.

Pray for our Nation, for President Zuma and all in leadership in government, irrespective of their party affiliation. Pray that integrity will prevail; pray against self-interest and politics that does not seek to be for the benefit of all who call South Africa home or a safe refuge. Pray that where necessary those in leadership will have the courage to call out those who are making poor and dire decisions.  Pray that the rot that has set in will be fully exposed and that decisive measures are taken to set things to right so that all may live in peace and with assurance of good governance that meets the needs of all citizens. In view of Monday’s downgrade to “Junk Status” pray for wisdom and discernment for all role players in the days, weeks and months to come. Amen.

Seven Questions 27 March – 2 April

Lenten Focus: John – The Gospel of Light and Life

Sunday 2nd April  – The Farewell Discourse

(Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 27th March – 2nd April 2017)

ICE BREAKER: What words of wisdom have been passed on to you that have influenced your life?

Background: Chapters 13-17 in John’s Gospel is The Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples – often referred to as the Farewell Discourse. These words of instruction that Jesus wanted to leave with this disciples are to encourage them before his death, resurrection and ascension. They are full of Jesus great love, compassion and concern for them as he prepared them for the challenges ahead.

 FOCUS PASSAGE: John 14:16-17 and John 15:8-10; 16

  1. READ John 14:1-17. Right from verse 1 Jesus centres on the theme of trust. What do you trust in?
  1. Adam Hamilton writes this: “Of course, we will all experience pain and loss. But we will regain our bearings when we trust in Christ.” Discuss this statement
  1. In verse 16 what word is used for Companion (Holy Spirit) in your Bible translation? In what ways do you allow the Holy Spirit to work through you to be an encouragement to others?
  1. READ: John 15:1-17. Jesus says in verse 1, “I Am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” How does the Holy Spirit keep you connected to the vine, who is Christ?
  1. In verse 5, Jesus says that if we abide in him we will produce much fruit. What does this mean in your life?
  1. What examples of fruit have you helped to produce as you participate in the life of our church and faith community? Perhaps you see this in others – take a moment to encourage them.
  1. Jesus calls us to us is that we show love when we lay down our life for others (v13). Love is the greatest commandment for us to obey. What do you think is the relationship between bearing fruit and obeying the call to love?

 

PRAYER TOPIC: Pray for those affected by the fire damage in the Durban factory, which although contained is not yet extinguished (at the time of writing); for the owners, workers, fire fighters and others involved in the clean-up; for the health risks to people in the area. Pray for our own community in respect of the Enviroserv Landfill issues, and the associated health risks. Pray that we will discern Christ’s desires for each of us and that we can love and serve God and each other with love, grace and dignity. Amen.

Seven Questions – 20 – 27 March 2017

WEEK 4: ‘THE I AM SAYINGS OF JESUS’ (March 20-27th)

SEVEN QUESTIONS

Focus Passage: John 8:12; John 8: 48-59

Ice-breaker:  Tell your group a little bit about your name. Where did it come from? What do your parents call you? Share any strange story around how or why you are called what your are called. What was your nickname growing up?

…….

We look this week at the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus. Over and over in John’s gospel Jesus uses this phrase, I am… followed by different analogies like Light, Life, Gate, Shepherd.

  • Spend a few moments looking through John using a concordance (your one in your Bible or another) searching out these various ‘I am sayings’.

Which one speaks most powerfully to you?

  • The one for our reading today shows Jesus comparing himself to Light. How is light and dark an apt description of the life we live in Jesus and the life we live apart from Jesus?
  • How has Light come to your life through faith in Jesus?
  • In the focus passage, the religious leaders are ready to stone Jesus because of his blasphemous claim, “Before Abraham was, I am!” When I look at this I always wonder if I would’ve responded any differently to those religious leaders. They might have seen Jesus as a little unhinged, claiming to be the Son of God, yet, frankly, crazy and quite dangerous. It raises the question, how do we win a sceptical world over to the lordship of Jesus?
  • Some of the religious leaders certainly might have been offended by this blasphemous claim. But others might have been deeply threatened by the popularity of Jesus and his criticism of religious practice of the day. If we are being faithful disciples Jesus will always be a big challenge to us! How is Jesus challenging you as a person?
  • And, off the back of this question, how would Jesus be challenging us as a society?
  • ‘I am’ was offensive because Jesus was drawing a direct line between himself and Yahweh. Any Jew worth their salt would’ve seen this as a reference to Moses and Yahweh at the Burning Bush. Moses wants to know who is speaking and God responds “I am” or “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be” There is such confusion around this name that it’s almost impossible to get a grasp on what it means. Why would Yahweh make it hard for people to get a grip on His name? Or, why is it important that we never forget the Deep Mystery that is God?

Prayers for this week. Spend a few moments in prayer for HMC. At the moment we’re engaged in conversation with developers for housing to be built on the empty lot behind the church. There are issues around this that need to be sorted and it threatens to impact us in some negative ways, including future parking for those attending our services. Pray for clarity, for wisdom, and for God’s will to be done.

Seven Questions – 19 March

Lenten Focus: John – The Gospel of Light and Life

Sunday 19th March – The Miraculous Signs of Jesus

(Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 13th to 19th March 2017)

FOCUS PASSAGES: John 2:1-12 and 9:1-43

Background: In the first 12 chapters of John we read of 7 miracles that Jesus performed during his ministry on earth – John called them “miraculous signs”. These can be read on 2 levels: 1) A straightforward level that follows the actions of the story, and 2) a deeper level that reveals the nature of Christ and which invites you into a deeper relationship with Christ.

  1. READ John 2:1-12. Why do you think it’s significant that this story takes place at a wedding party? And why were the servants told by Mary to “do whatever he tells you?” (also want to refer to Rev. 19:7-10). What does it mean in the story and for us today?
  1. Jesus tells them to fill the water jars made of stone that were used for Jewish rites of purification” to the brim. Refer to Ezekiel 36:24-27. What do you think is the significance of the jars, and how does this apply to us today?
  1. What do you think the good wine represent, and how does the jars filled to the brim describe you experience of the Christian faith?
  1. How does the secular world tempt us away from Christ and how can we resist this and remain in Christ, in whom we find life?
  1. READ: John 9:1-43 The Disciples asked a “cause-and-effect” question – who sinned? How does this way of thinking still impact our world today – even in the church?
  1. Sometimes bad things happen to us as a consequence of our own actions. It’s important to note that God does not punish us with hardship and suffering – Jesus did this on our behalf. When the beggar went to wash in the pool he was healed of his blindness. How does this story relate to our baptism and healing from spiritual blindness?
  1. What does Christ call us to do in order to receive new life and healing?

 

PRAYER TOPIC:          Pray for the clean-up operations on the Durban Beach front and for business owners who have been affected; for teenage pregnancies that adversely affect families and increased numbers of abandoned babies; the abduction case – that the truth will be revealed and the justice and righteousness will be served. Amen

SEVEN QUESTIONS 6 MARCH 2017

Lenten Focus: John – The Gospel of Light and Life
Sunday 12th March – The Word Made Flesh

(Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 6th March 2017)

FOCUS PASSAGE: John 1:1-51

1. The Gospel of John is unique among the Gospels – the other three are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels (to see together – in Greek). John uses the Greek term “Logos” for the Word (v1-3). Logos means “logic or logical, God’s heart, God’s reasoning, God’s Mind, God’s purposes, God’s character. What do you understand by the Incarnation of Christ – look at verses 1-18? Why is this important for us as Christians?

2. In verses 3-5 John refers to darkness in several ways. Discuss what you think these could be and what you understand about how Jesus brings light into your life.

3. How can we ‘knock holes in the darkness’ and be the light of Christ for others, both as individuals and as a church?

4. Read John 20:31. In his book Adam Hamilton makes the point that ‘eternal life’ isn’t only something we experience beyond death but also includes the experience of new life in Christ now. How have you experienced the reality that eternal life begins now in our life on earth?

5. Russell D Moore writes: “For too long, we’ve called unbelievers to ‘invite Jesus into your life.’ Jesus doesn’t want to be in your life. Your life’s a wreck. Jesus calls you into his life. And his life isn’t boring or purposeless or static. It’s wild and exhilarating and unpredictable.” What do you think is the difference between inviting Christ into your life and accepting Christ’s invitation into his life? Look at John 5:24

6. Jesus calls us to trust him… to follow him who offers light and life to all who believe. At this time of Lent – in what ways do you trust Jesus?

7. In what areas of your life do you, hold back and need to begin to trust Jesus to be light and life in those areas of your experience?

PRAYER TOPIC: We are disturbed by the impending catastrophe of the social grant pay-outs that supports many households in our nation. Pray that this matter will be resolved and that it will not be a place of ‘darkness’ for who depend on these funds to survive. Please pray for the Hillcrest Aids Centre with the transition of Olivia’s departure and Candace’s arrival – may this be a new season in both their lives and the life of this amazing place of hope and ministry in our community. Amen