Notes for Services on 2020-06-14

Reflecting on Matthew 9:35-10:10 with Rev Angus Kelly and Rev Mpumelelo Masoabi.

tvmethodist.online.church

Audio Link to 845am Service (Will expire after a few weeks)

Excellent TED Podcast. How to be anti-racist 

 


Matthew 9:38 "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Is not just about getting people 'saved' it is about working for the Kingdom of God to come.

mourning takes a knee

 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
-       Matthew 5:4-5

I can’t breathe.
mourning
takes
a knee

On the neck
of the meek

Deep
sighs
too deep

Deep
sighs
to deep

fire
burns in tongues

but waterfall justice
is dammed

fire
speaks in tongues

tear the heavens

let
mountains tremble
flood justice

skip like slain lambs
slaughtered

ransom a kindom of priests
to serve
and lead to justice.

- Angus Kelly (1 June 2020)

Render to Caesar (The worthship of money.)

Render to Caesar (The worthship of money.)

Rev Angus Kelly
19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
- Matthew 22:19-21
The cost of living moves up and down from time to time and its quite something to see what some people count as the ‘cost of living’.  From the cost of paying for luxury vehicles and palatial villas to the cost of keeping children fed on a diet of daily pap and gravy (on good days).  Covid-19 prompted a spectacular reaction – a sudden awareness of the price of a human life.  Or human lives.  I’ve never liked being called a ‘human resource’ it sounds too much like an oil reserve – and I wonder what I’d be worth if I was no longer a ‘resource’ for someone else’s benefit.

Pharisees plot to entrap Jesus (Matthew 22:15) and so they send their disciples “along with the Herodians” (16) to ask a tricky question. Judea was under the rule of Pilate, a Roman prefect.  The Herodians preferred Herodian rule to the Roman prefecture.

The delegation represents diverse political desires and experiences:  Pharisees who for the most part believed that proper worship and observance of the Jewish law would restore the Kingdom of Judea to a rightful heir. Herodians, a political movement who wanted the Herodian line back on the throne of Israel. Jesus and his disciples who represented a religious movement essentially from the countryside – in some ways removed from the political intrigue of Jerusalem where all of this took place but who saw Jesus as the rightful “King of the Jews” as a rightful heir to the Davidic throne. It is no secret that the Pharisees had worked out how to live with their Roman rulers and existed as an important class of people who controlled the temple and religious life of Jerusalem and thus influenced control of Jews in Judea. Herodians probably longed for the patronage of the Herodian royal family as massive infrastructure projects funded by taxes leveraged from the citizens of Judea had created patronage networks that simply didn’t flow under the Roman prefecture.

The question: “17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” (Matthew 22:17)

Jesus clever answer: “Show me the coin used for the tax” (Verse 19).



The coin for paying taxes bore the image of the emperor – in the example above the emperor Tiberius Claudius.  On the reverse of the coin a picture of the mother of Tiberius depicted as a goddess of peace with an inscription reading PONTIF MAXIM (high priest).

When Jesus asks: “Whose head is this, and whose title?” (Verse 20) they have to say “The emperor’s.”

“Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Verse 21)

I don’t think Jesus is just saying that people should pay their portion to Caesar.  I think he might be suggesting that they take every coin that bears his image and send it back to him.  This would fit with Jesus usual advice about what to do with wealth.  “…go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). Jesus measures worth differently. Jesus asks questions like: “For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” (Mark 8:36).

Money is only valuable when it is useful.  If Jesus decrees that all of Caesar’s money be loaded up in ships and taken back to Rome it will spell the end of Judean occupation.  Rome knew that you couldn’t rule a country by oppression and violence alone. They were clever enough to insist that a region like Palestine planted Barley and only Barley, meaning that they’d need to trade with other regions to get the goods they needed and thus pay taxes on (for example) Barley sales and olive imports.  Roman globalization meant that economies were enslaved by greed for Roman coins – the book of Revelation paints a picture of the destruction of Rome:  “Alas, alas, the great city,
where all who had ships at sea
grew rich by her wealth!
For in one hour she has been laid waste.” (Revelation 18:19)

The next part of Jesus answer about giving is the demand that we give “to God the things that are God’s.”  (Matthew 22:21). Speaking of image bearing items scripture teaches that humans are made in the image of God. Not just emperors but all humans. As bearers of the image of God the Judeo-Christian religion teaches the importance of care for all people.  Rich, poor, sick, in prison, widowed, orphaned, foreigner, sinner, tax collecter and the list goes on and on.  All of these people to be ‘given to God.’  All of these treasures to be recognized because they bear the image of God as ‘belonging to God’.

Covid-19 has shown the world that there is a value that is not measured on the spreadsheets and in the algorithms of stock markets.  The value of life.  Oil prices that drive war and conflict shrunk into negative territory because staying at home to save lives was more important than leaving home to spend money.  Billions of Denarius’ worth of life has been given to the world in terms of life and health and even the lowering of carbon emissions.  But these figures will all be measured as loss of productivity to global stock markets who are not able to factor in the mysterious value of humans created in the image of God.

The problem is that global currency values are derived from resource and productivity indexes rather than real life values.  Happiness, health, virtue and right relationships.  It seems that sometimes all of these things are contingent on devaluing currencies by ‘opting out’ of the secular trade and opting in to an economy that measures value in ways that somehow incorporate ‘life’ on the balance sheet.

When Jesus counsels the rich young man to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor he does not paint a picture of this young man entering into a life of poverty – instead he paints a picture of wealth beyond all measure:
Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news,f 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields. (Mark 10:29-30)


f Or gospel

Reflecting on the Possiblity of Communion Online - Law, Order, Communion and Vulnerability

[Work in Progress...]

You can read and comment here (via Google Docs)

The Law, Order and Vulnerability of Communion
(Shared Vulnerability in Covid-19)


The usual practices of the gathered church especially sung worship and the sharing of communion are highly conducive to the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.  This means that church gatherings are likely to be stopped for almost a year.  If no vaccine for Covid-19 is found it might mean that church gatherings will be halted for even longer.  Congregations are meeting online through various social networks like FaceBook, Instagram and WhatsApp or via video conferencing facilities like Zoom and Skype.  Augmented reality and social networking will soon combine to create virtual connection points that are as lifelike as possible.  Of interest right now is the question of at what point would the Methodist Church of Southern Africa be able to offer sacraments through these virtual means?  And would that be appropriate?

In this essay I briefly explore the possibility of making changes to the order of the church of the sake of sharing the sacrament in novel ways. First I briefly examine the development of the Eucharistic Feast as separate from the Love Feast on the basis of matters of Order rather than of Law. That this separation and dogmatization of the Lord’s Supper seems to be based on ‘order’ rather than ‘doctrine’ and this would indicate that if appropriate the church might be justified in making changes to its practice that would facilitate the ‘virtual’ sharing of communion. Second there is the question of whether it would be appropriate to do this.  There are many arguments to be made about the incarnational importance of physical presence and the experience of communion as a gathered group but I want to look at the way in which we are to hold law, order and communion in vulnerability in a way that truly honours the church’s role as body of Christ in the world.

One thing Wesley is known for is his bold willingness to invent new ways of doing things in conflict with the church of his day. Beside field preaching an interesting part of the development story of the Methodist denomination is Wesley’s consecration of Thomas Coke for the role of superintendent[1] of the Methodist Church in the Americas in 1783.  One of the reasons for this ordination was the cry that “thousands of children remained unbaptized” and some members of Methodist societies “had not partaken of the Lord’s Supper for many years” (Heitzenrater 1995, chap. 6).  The consecration of Coke and ordination of Methodist ministers that followed made it possible for sacraments to be administered in the growing American church.  But it also led to the formalization of divisions between the Methodist Church and the Anglican Church. 

In one sense it follows that the sacramental practices might be changed to facilitate reception of the sacrament in novel ways.  But, in the case of Wesley’s consecration of Coke and the subsequent establishment of an order of ministers in America it is important to note that sending a hand written order of service and preserved and consecrated elements from Wesley to a church in America was not considered as an option.  The church needed a Presbyter to preside at the table and to be physically and contemporaneously present[2]

The Early Methodist Church was innovative in establishing the church in America especially for fear of a sort of sacramental starvation for those without access to ordained ministers. The Methodist tradition understands the need to break from tradition from time to time. As interesting as this might be Albert Outler points out that Wesley’s distinctive use of tradition as an authority for theological discernment was not based on the tradition of the Church of England but rather on the tradition of the church of Antiquity (or the Early Church) [3].

A survey of the practice of the early church seems to show that that it was matters of order and not law or dogma that led to the Lord’s Supper being seen as a meal separate from the early love feast and strictly presided over by a presbyter or bishop.  Ignatius, a first century bishop in his letter to the Smyrneans insists:
“Let no one do anything involving the church without the bishop. Let that eucharist be considered valid that occurs under the bishop or the one to whom he entrusts it. 2. Let the congregation be wherever the bishop is; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there also is the universal church. It is not permitted either to baptize or to hold a love feast without the bishop. But whatever he approves is acceptable to God, so that everything you do should be secure and valid.”
– Letter of Ignatius to the Smyrnaens 8 (circa 100AD) (Ehrman 2003: 305)
Thus the bishop becomes in a sense a representative of Christ’s presence to the church but it is important to note that the bishop may ‘entrust’ the eucharist to someone else.  Beyond that Ignatius seems to indicate a certain amount of flexibility of practice in that the bishop may approve and innovate.  At this stage it seems The Didache, another important document with evidence for a formalised Eucharist does not seem to insist that the Eucharist is presided over by a presbyter / episkopos even though in Chapter 15 it gives instruction for the congregational[4] election of bishops and deacons (Ehrman 2003: 439-441). This might be because the order described by Ignatius is generally assumed or it might be the case that the congregation operates according to the synagogue structure of first century Judaism by which a leader would be appointed most probably on the basis of patronage and this leader would be the host of the supper when shared (Giles 1997: 219-26).  Banks (1993, 134) writes: “The epistles and New Testament do not seem to make distinctions about who presides at the Lord’s Supper. Nowhere in Paul’s letters, disputed or undisputed, is anyone identified as the presider or celebrant of this meal. Most probably this was undertaken by the host or hostess of the meeting in whose home the meal was being held.” It is clear that in the early church the tradition of a formal ‘Lord’s Supper’ developed gradually for the sake of order. The formalization of this order seems to have been for the sake of unity as described in Ignatius’ epistle to the Smyrneans.

In the Methodist Church of Southern Africa the minister’s role at the communion table is not a so much a matter of doctrine as it is a matter of order.  Doctrine pertains to the right glorification of God and right Theology.  Order has to do with the practice of the church that stems from that doctrine.  As the recently (and more appropriately) renamed Book of Order[5] declares:
“Because the Holy Communion is an act of the whole Church, the celebrant is a Minister whose call from God has been recognised by the church as a whole and who has been set apart by ordination to the ministry of Word and Sacrament.”(MCSA 2016, para. 1.26, emphasis mine)
Order[6] is discerned and determined through the church’s often cumbersome administrative processes.  It takes a long time to deliberate on a decision that has to do with the religious and spiritual lives of millions of Christians. And because this is a distinctively human process sometimes Order and Doctrine are so deeply intertwined that the one may be mistaken for the other. Sometimes order is abused and sometimes it is oppressive – order is expressed as dogma rather than spiritual (λογικὸν) wisdom. This may happen where the sacrament is wrongly used as a disciplinary instrument being withheld from those who have not paid their dues or whom the leaders of a certain society have found ‘unworthy.’ It is impossible to defend these practices with good Theology and so instead of rightly and transparently discerned or described in a way that brings illumination and liberation dogma is described in ways that result in obfuscation, oppression and heinous forms of spiritual manipulation and abuse.

Rather than dogma the Book of Order is an agreement between Methodists about how we ‘do’ church in a way that unites us. It is an agreement that is always open to amendment and debate. The processes and procedures that allow for the amendment and debate of this order are not always the most efficient and clear and they are certainly not incorruptible. It is easy to see how an institution’s decision making processes can evolve to preserve the institution rather than the mission of that institution. Wesley’s bold decisions with regard to the formation of the Methodist Church in America indicate his willingness to break with the tradition of the institution for the sake of sharing the gospel and edifying the church. Even Wesley’s bold decisions were not made without thorough going consultation. Among the first acts of the newly formed Methodist Church in America was to hold a conference to establish its order.

Liberating rules need the assent of the community that makes and keeps them.[7]  Church leadership needs to be ‘duly authorized’ in order to have due ‘authority.’  Authority can be such an oppressive word depending on where that authority is derived ‘authority’ in church should have only the best connotations finding its root in the servant leadership of Jesus.  In the example of the earliest church.  In the Methodist Church of Southern Africa ‘Authority’ theoretically comes from the people of the Methodist Church who in their Book of Order and Minutes of Conference outline a transparent decision-making process. This decision making process incorporates the church in all of its meetings, synods and Conference.[8]

It is this ‘Conference’ or ‘Fellowship’ that makes its own ‘rules’ and order.  As such it must hold its order in humility. An example of this kind of humility is found in the earliest church. In the letter to the Gentile Christians of Acts 15:23-29 the Jerusalem church under James, Peter and the apostles is able to use humble language: “…it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you…” (Acts 15:28).  This church has humbly discerned their solution which they feel is in harmony with the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the agreement of the congregation.  The word for seemed ‘δοκέω’ is described by Louw and Nida (1989, para. 31.29) as “to regard something as presumably true, but without particular certainty—‘to suppose, to presume, to assume, to imagine, to believe, to think.’”  The church of Acts establishes an order through consultation and “consent of the whole church” and they hold it in humility or perhaps vulnerability. This order is not held as a matter of dogma. This humble discernment is captured in beautifully in the words of James who says: “…the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

Brené Brown writes of the power of vulnerability and stresses the importance of understanding the dynamics of vulnerability as true strength she writes:
When discussing vulnerability, it is helpful to look at the definition and etymology of the word vulnerable. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word vulnerability is derived from the Latin word vulnerare, meaning “to wound.” The definition includes “capable of being wounded” and “open to attack or damage.” Merriam-Webster defines weakness as the inability to withstand attack or wounding.” (Brown 2015, 67)
Perhaps the earliest church that met in homes was so robust because in faith it was willing to become vulnerable. To meet together as a church was to become vulnerable to persecution but even in the midst of persecution they were able on matters of doctrine to admit that they didn’t know for sure – but “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” It was in vulnerability that Jesus established his supper, washing the disciple’s feet – dipping his bread in the same bowl as the one who would betray him. It was in vulnerability that his disciples saw him sweating and praying for the cup to be taken away. It is through his wounds and in some way – our participation in his wounds - that we are healed (1 Peter 2:24 / Isaiah 53:4-6).

In vulnerability the church at Corinth protected and promoted the letter from Paul that strongly rebuked them for their practice at the Lord’s Supper.  As if to prove the point of the importance of woundedness for the church which is the body of Christ this letter to the Corinthians becomes one of the chief scriptures that guide us in the practice of the Lord’s Supper:
20 When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk.” (1 Corinthians 11:20-21) 
Paul’s critique of this early church is its marked lack of shared vulnerability in its love feast / eucharist. To share a meal is to share in vulnerability. In this church some people go ahead and get drunk while others experience pangs of hunger.  Covid-19 in the 21st century points to a terrifying lack of shared vulnerability in the world and in the church.  In America the daily headlines point out that the most vulnerable to the Corona virus are ‘front line workers’ in meat packing plants, grocery stores and frail care centers. These people are vulnerable not just because of their daily exposure to the virus as they work but also because of the co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension that are associated with poverty, stress and lack of access to health care.  In education children with access to technology and internet are able to continue with their schooling while those who are disadvantaged have to wait and see what the year will bring.  In South Africa deaths from Covid-19 will probably disproportionately effect the poor just as it has in America.

Perhaps the Covid-19 crisis is a stark reminder that without shared vulnerability the meal that we eat might not be The Lord’s Supper.

The church might not be able to share communion for a long time. Technological and practical implications could probably be easily overcome. In overcoming these barriers we need to make sure that we are not overcoming barriers to practical sharing of communion with some people.  But that we are making sure that we maintain vulnerability in sharing. Geographical circuits do not take away the problem of habitual social distancing in the church today. Even societies like the one I serve are onedivided by language, culture, and financial status. It is easy to make changes to order and even to ritual. In the case of The Lord’s Supper there may be a way to adapt our practice to suit the modern Covid-19 situation but whatever ways are developed it will not be the Lord’s supper unless somehow it is a true expression of shared vulnerability.

Bibliography

Banks, RJ. 1993. ‘Church Order and Government’. In Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, edited by GF Hawthorne, RP Martin, and DG Reid. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Brown, Brené. 2015. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Reprint edition. Avery.
Ehrman, Bart D., trans. 2003. ‘Didache - The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles’. In The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 1: I Clement, II Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Didache. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Freire, Paulo. 2000. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th Anniversary Edition. 30th Anniversary edition. New York: Continuum.
Giles, KN. 1997. ‘Church Order, Government’. In Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, edited by RP Martin and PH Davids. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Heitzenrater, Richard. 1995. Wesley and the People Called Methodists. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
Louw, Johannes P, and Eugene A Nida. 1989. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. 2nd ed. New York: United Bible Societies. https://www.logos.com/product/199/greek-english-lexicon-of-the-new-testament-based-on-semantic-domains.
MCSA. 2016. The Methodist Book of Order: The Laws and Discipline of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.
Methodist Church. 1999. Methodist Worship Book. Methodist Church of Great Britain.
Outler, Albert C. 1985. ‘The Wesleyan Quadrilateral in Wesley’. Wesleyan Theological Journal 20 (1): 158.



[1] Wesley ordained Coke as ‘superintendent’ drawing on the New Testament word ἐπισκόποις which is translated as overseer or bishop.
[2] In considering whether it would be acceptable to consecrate the elements via electronic broadcast it must also be considered whether it would be acceptable for this broadcast to be pre-recorded?  Or must it be a ‘live’ broadcast?
[3] Wesley’s quadrilateral as described by Outler (1985, 10) emphasizes ‘Christian Antiquity’ as the proper locus of tradition.
[4] In this case ‘congregational’ should not be understood to described modern individualized church governance (Giles 1997, 219–26).
[5] Which used to be called The Law and Discipline
[6] An example of this kind of Order that is not law or doctrine may be found in some of Paul’s instructions to the churches of the New Testament:
“…let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches” (1 Corinthians 7:17)
Paul is writing about whether converts should continue in marriage to their unbelieving husbands or wives.  He doesn’t have a law for this but instead makes his own recommendation or instruction based on his argument in the preceding verses.  This is his ‘rule’.  The Greek word is διατάσσω which Louw and Nida (1989) interpret as “to order, to instruct, to tell, to command.”  It is a rule for which he does not claim some higher spiritual authority.  He presents this rule as a proposition to the Corinthian church and they are welcome to keep it or leave it.
[7]By imposing their word on others, they falsify that word and establish a contradiction between their methods and their objectives. If they are truly committed to liberation, their action and reflection cannot proceed without the action and reflection of others.” (Freire 2000, 126)

[8] Although participation of the congregation in decision making and even in the ordination of ministers is greatly stressed there are often interesting changes.  In the ordination service of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (1975 Liturgy) the President (Bishop) asks the congregation:
“Do you believe that they are by God’s grace worthy to be ordained?
The people answer: They are worthy.”  
(Methodist Church 1975, G7)
At the 2019 ordination the liturgy was different:
The Presiding Bishop addresses the congregation:
“…By the grace of God we declare that they are worthy to be ordained.  Will you uphold them in their ministry?”  Does this use of a liturgy closer to the 1936 liturgy reflect a movement away from the acknowledgment of the wider church’s participation in the ordination of ministers and deacons?

Nobody should go Hungry || Random Thought on Food and Feeding



Some thoughts on getting food to where it needs to go.

Based on my perception and anecdotal evidence...

At church we are packing food parcels.  30 this past week - but I think we'll need to ramp up over the next few weeks and maybe our sanctuary will need to be a food parcel factory from now on until later.  We can clear the factory floor for Sunday Worship.

The devastating hunger that has led to the looting of delivery trucks made me think a bit about how to get food to where it needs to go.

As church what we are able to do is get a decent weekly box together to help people from the congregation whom we know are going to be going hungry at this time.  We opt for food not money because money gets way too complicated.  Food is easier to do - and working in bulk we can save a bit.

I'm not sure our list is optimised but this is it:

2kg Mielie Meal
500g oats
1kg Rice
1kg flour
Yeast for making bread (not beer :)
2 minute noodles (pack of 5)
500ml Oil
1l Milk (Long life)
Tea (Small pack)
Coffee (Small tin)
Sugar (500g)
Some Stock Cubes
5 Packets Soup
Tin Pilchards
Baked Beans
Peanut Butter
Toothpaste
Soap
Sanitary pads

I think bulk deliveries / soup kitchens and supermarkets are not the best way to get food into settlements.  The best way to avoid looting etc. would be an attempt to saturate the need on a house by house basis.  Hopefully giving households enough to be able to share.

Sharing is possible if the household receiving can be assured of a regular (weekly) supply of basic goods.  And if this leads to an informal bartering economy that is also acceptable.

Discussing fresh produce it was pointed out that informal traders sell individual potatoes etc. for reasonable prices.  Although some of the feedback I have received is that butternut, onions and potatoes can go a long way and if food parcels are moving quickly we can pack and distribute before packed staples go off.

Many of the folks who live in Dunoon work in Table View, Killarney Gardens and Montague Gardens.  It would be good if somehow employers in these areas could make arrangements to get food parcels to their employees in a Covid Safe way...  Minimising contact and travel.

Formal churches with connections in communities // Catholic, Anglican, Baptist etc. could work through their suburban connections to support their township brothers and sisters with the goal of upping food and sustenance supply in impoverished areas.

I am reluctant about the voucher program and I would like to see it improved to help the informal economy... Improve the Voucher Program.
The voucher program through computicket shoprite etc. is OK - but I'd like to see money going to the informal economy.  
It would be good if 'shoppers' could use their 'vouchers' at the spaza etc. for some sort of profit share margin (a little bit more expensive than at the shop, but traders could get first option on bulk supplies coming in to the stores).  
If traders are sourcing their produce elsewhere if they are able to use shoprite voucher systems to trade they could go in and buy other supplies / exchange for cash with their cards.

South African / City of Cape Town urban development doesn't properly appreciate the role of street vendors and informal trade in the South African city.  There is a ton of bartering / soft credit / ubuntu based community trade happening and it is a fundamental barrier to extreme poverty.






Covideo Services

Covideos

I'm loving all the hard work and innovation that is going in to making videos to help churches to worship.  The most amazing thing is all of us ministers are learning as we go and coming up with some great ideas :) 

I'm still settling on a method and having fun figuring it out.
And I probably won't settle on a method for a while.

But some ideas / observations so far...

I think I'll do a separate one about music making :)

Day 1 - Live via Cell Phone

This is probably the easiest way to do things if you have enough data.  You can do this via your Church Facebook page - or even your personal Facebook profile (set to public).  It'll take a bit of data but it is probably the most straightforward.  I think about an hour of video will use less than 1 Gig of data - I have an uncapped Rain sim card for R250pm so I don't worry about that.


I put the cell phone on a tripod and used a large screen for slides.  This worked well - but for those watching there was the occasional 'lag' so to avoid the lag maybe its a good idea to offer two time slots for the service...  Live (when you go live from facebook) and 90 minutes later when the 'Live' video has been uploaded to facebook already and you can encourage people to watch together.

You can find the address for your video by clicking on your video and copying that address to share with your congregation.  They won't have to sign in to facebook although facebook will keep inviting them to sign up :)

Day 2 

Under lock down I couldn't go to church so I went online from home:


I find that the microphone on my cell phone is much better than the one on my mac.  And worked alright for voice, singing and speech.  The only problem with going 'live' from home is that I have small kids and it's quite hard to get everything to stay civilised for more than 30 minutes.

Day 3

Attempt at Sunday Service - Live via OBS...


This didn't work because of a data failure.  None of my devices wanted to work very well - possible because of the cement garage!!!  OBS lets you mix up your 'live' broadcast with pre-recorded elements that you can include via VLC player.

You can download OBS here.

You have to be a bit tech savvy to use OBS and most of the things you want to do you will have to Google.  With OBS you can set things up so that you have your head in one part of the screen and slides in the other.

Day 4 (Good Friday)




One nice thing about OBS is you can record your service while you VJ it (Video Jockey) :).   That way you don't have to wait for your video software to process everything which seems to take hours.

Then you can just upload the finished product and share it.

Once you get the hang of OBS you can also use it to share screens from other applications - in the picture above it is displaying my Bible Software while I read and highlight.  

You can set up short cut keys to switch views and things so you can have various app windows set up to show people slides / bible software / drawing software and all that.   Quite a nice way to do Bible Study and teaching sessions.

Day 5 (Easter Sunday)



For Easter Sunday I completed the final service using iMovie on my Mac - I'm not sure what is available on PC.  But one handy feature I found was 'spilt screen' in iMovie...  It's not the most obvious feature but it works well. 

So once you've made your video - making sure that you are in the center of your shot
...you can drag your slides into iMovie above the main video line.

The text of your slides should be in the middle half of your 16:9 slide show (ie 1/4 of the page margin on each side)
By default this will make your slide play over your video. 
You can stretch your slide longer (time ways) to cover the section it is meant to show.

But to get your slide to play next to your face... 



During lockdown I think it is important to keep the church members connected.  It means a lot to see each other's faces.  I've been amazed at how many of my church members managed to send a Whatsapp Video of themselves.  The easiest way to incorporate these is to set up Whatasapp on your PC.  That way you can download the videos you receive and simply drag them into your video editor.

In iMovie you can crop the videos to suit yourself whether they're in portrait or landscape.  You can also invite church members to lead readings and prayers etc. by sending a whatsapp audio or video message.  Whatsapp Audio comes as an Ogg file and you can use VLC to convert it into a useable file for your video if your video software doesn't like Ogg files.  

In VLC -  Look under FILE for 'Convert' and work from there.

Concluding Thoughts

We have to think about our aim with these videos...

My goal:

To encourage the congregation during a difficult time.
To foster a feeling of connectedness and unity.
To help each other connect with God.
Authenticity.

Different methods achieve different outcomes...

'Live' is great for a sense of connection - it is nice to know that what you are watching is what somebody else is doing / experiencing / sharing.  And as the person doing the sharing connecting - authenticity will shine through you.

The cool kids are making fancy 'produced' videos with all the latest equipment and thats nice - but ministry is not about fancy production it is about authentic connection.  I have chosen to use homemade music - and tried to get members of the worship team to record some singing etc. because I believe that worship music is 'folk music' - music of the people.  There is connection in it and I'm working on that.

Facebook Premiere

If you pre-record your videos and publish them when you upload to Youtube or Facebook they can be set to 'premiere' at a certain time.  Then they publish like 'live' videos and reactions / comments can happen in realtime.  

That way you can upload your video and chat in the comments during the live stream.  Foster connection.  I also suggest that you keep everything a little to a lot shorter than usual :)















DIY Tenebrae Service


Thursday of Holy Week

Hi Church Family,

Instead of a service on TV this evening here is something you can do at home at supper time and bedtime.

You will need a Bible and some candles and if you don’t have candles you can innovate - using torches or the lights in your house.  You will need 7 lights (or sets of lights) that you can extinguish one by one.

God bless,


 A note about communion:
As a congregation we believe in the importance of having communion together as a church and not in our own ‘private’ meals.  This is rooted in Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11:20-22. We feel that a ‘public’ meal held in community at church honors the tradition of the Lord’s Supper.  When we eat and drink in memory of Jesus in our private homes we may refer to it as a ‘love feast’ following the tradition of Acts 2 which describes the meal fellowship of the early church:

“...they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts.” (Acts 2:46)

Even though we will read the words that Jesus read when he instituted his supper instead of having ‘communion’ we are simply remembering what Jesus said and did. The first thing we will do when we gather as a church again is share communion.

Supper Time

Before you eat, read this verse from Mark 14:22, you can read from this page but it is nice to use a paper Bible if you have one.

22 While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. “Take it,” he said, “this is my body.” 

While you eat, talk about what it means to have a meal together and eat with a glad and humble heart? (Acts 2:46)

[Although these notes are written with families in mind if you’re eating alone you can still do this in prayerful solitude and reflection - or you can phone somebody and share in the meal like that.]

Keep some water or cooldrink for the end of the meal and at the end of the meal read this passage from Mark 14:23-26 -

23 Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them; and they all drank from it. 24 Jesus said, “This is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals God’s covenant. 25I tell you, I will never again drink this wine until the day I drink the new wine in the Kingdom of God.” 26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. 

The disciples would probably have sung from one of the Psalms that were traditionally sung during the time of Passover.  You can read Psalm 116:1-2 and 12-16.

I love the Lord, because he hears me; he listens to my prayers. 2 He listens to me every time I call to him. 

12 What can I offer the Lord for all his goodness to me? 
13 I will bring a wine offering to the Lord, 
to thank him for saving me. 
14 In the assembly of all his people 
I will give him what I have promised. 
15 How painful it is to the Lord 
when one of his people dies! 
16 I am your servant, Lord; 
I serve you, just as my mother did. 
You have saved me from death. 

They went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray.  As a family say some simple prayers for yourselves, for others and for the church.

Bed Time 

(Extinguishing the Lights)

On Thursday night we remember how Jesus' disciples deserted him when he was arrested and handed over to be crucified.  Jesus probably didn’t sleep that night but he stayed up late praying with the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane.

First Candle

Mark 14:32-38

32 They came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him. Distress and anguish came over him, 34 and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch.”
35 He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering. 36 “Father,” he prayed, “my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.”
37 Then he returned and found the three disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Weren't you able to stay awake for even one hour?” 38 And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Extinguish the first light.

Second Candle

Mark 14:39-46

39 He went away once more and prayed, saying the same words. 40 Then he came back to the disciples and found them asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to say to him.

41 When he came back the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come! Look, the Son of Man is now being handed over to the power of sinners. 42 Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”

43 Jesus was still speaking when Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders. 44 The traitor had given the crowd a signal: “The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him and take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as Judas arrived, he went up to Jesus and said, “Teacher!” and kissed him. 46 So they arrested Jesus and held him tight.

Extinguish the second light.

Third Candle

Mark 14:47-52

47 But one of those standing there drew his sword and struck at the High Priest's slave, cutting off his ear. 48 Then Jesus spoke up and said to them, “Did you have to come with swords and clubs to capture me, as though I were an outlaw? 49 Day after day I was with you teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must come true.”

50 Then all the disciples left him and ran away.

51 A certain young man, dressed only in a linen cloth, was following Jesus. They tried to arrest him, 52 but he ran away naked, leaving the cloth behind.

Extinguish the third light.

Fourth Candle

Mark 14:53-56

53 Then Jesus was taken to the High Priest's house, where all the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the Law were gathering. 54 Peter followed from a distance and went into the courtyard of the High Priest's house. There he sat down with the guards, keeping himself warm by the fire. 55 The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some evidence against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they could not find any. 56 Many witnesses told lies against Jesus, but their stories did not agree.

Extinguish the fourth light.

Fifth Candle

Mark 14:57-59

57 Then some men stood up and told this lie against Jesus: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will tear down this Temple which men have made, and after three days I will build one that is not made by men.’” 59 Not even they, however, could make their stories agree.

Extinguish the fifth light.

Sixth Candle

Mark 14:60-65

60 The High Priest stood up in front of them all and questioned Jesus, “Have you no answer to the accusation they bring against you?”

61 But Jesus kept quiet and would not say a word. Again the High Priest questioned him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed God?”

62 “I am,” answered Jesus, “and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven!”

63 The High Priest tore his robes and said, “We don't need any more witnesses! 64 You heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?”

They all voted against him: he was guilty and should be put to death.

65 Some of them began to spit on Jesus, and they blindfolded him and hit him. “Guess who hit you!” they said. And the guards took him and slapped him.

Extinguish the sixth light.

Seventh Candle

Mark 14:66-72


66 Peter was still down in the courtyard when one of the High Priest's servant women came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked straight at him and said, “You, too, were with Jesus of Nazareth.”

68 But he denied it. “I don't know … I don't understand what you are talking about,” he answered, and went out into the passageway. Just then a rooster crowed.[b]

69 The servant woman saw him there and began to repeat to the bystanders, “He is one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again.

A little while later the bystanders accused Peter again, “You can't deny that you are one of them, because you, too, are from Galilee.”

71 Then Peter said, “I swear that I am telling the truth! May God punish me if I am not! I do not know the man you are talking about!”

72 Just then a rooster crowed a second time, and Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows two times, you will say three times that you do not know me.” And he broke down and cried.

Extinguish the seventh light and go to bed quietly.