Monday, October 14, 2013

Student Preaching Series III

The third installment of the Cathedral Student Ministry's Student Preaching Series is as powerful and thoughtful as the other two have been! Please read and enjoy.

Sello Morake

CSM Position: Data Projector Operator/Core Team Member

Degree: BS, Chemistry
From: Johannesburg, South Africa

Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 11-19

As Jesus made his way to Jerusalem, he went along the border between Samaria and Galilee. He was going into a village when he was met by ten men suffering from a dreaded skin disease. They stood at a distance and shouted, "Jesus! Master! Have pity on us!" Jesus saw them and said to them, "Go and let the priests examine you." On the way they were made clean. When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself to the ground at Jesus' feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. Jesus spoke up, "There were ten who were healed; where are the other nine? Why is this foreigner the only one who came back to give thanks to God?" And Jesus said to him, "Get up and go; your faith has made you well."


In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The passage that was just read tells the story of 10 men suffering from leprosy – a bacteria-induced disease that damages the body’s ability to feel pain. The disease begins with sores erupting all over the body, it leads to disfigurement of the body until eventually the sufferer’s fingers, toes or even a whole foot (in severe cases) falls off.

Leprosy was quite the vicious disease of that time. Without the medicine we have today, lepers were removed and isolated from their community because of fear of infection. They were victimised, they were considered “unclean” and “unapproachable” – if they were seen on one side of the road, people would change sides to avoid any contact with them…and to think, it wasn’t even that easy to contract the disease. The lepers had to beg for assistance from a distance.

In the words of Luke, we’re reminded of just how powerful, life-changing and inclusive the compassion of Jesus really is. Here we see Jesus taking care of the marginalised – the outcasts – and treating them as His own. We also see that He has a faithful recognition to the one that returns to Him – he made him “well”.

Now allow me to take a slight turn and talk about the three levels of thankfulness we learn from this passage.

The first one is the Thankfulness of Faith.
We get an indication that the ten men were long-time sufferers of leprosy – living their lives in loneliness, rejection, hopelessness and unsure of what tomorrow will bring. At some point in their lives, they were healthy men – fathers, husbands, workers and community members. But the next they got infected by a disease that cost them their families, friends and jobs. It’s no doubt that their physical pain was only outweighed by their emotional pain.

Surely, their hope was diminishing day by day – until that one special day when they met Jesus Christ on His journey. They asked earnestly – shouting from a distance – “Master, Jesus – have mercy on us.” Did they think that Jesus would raise His hand and they’d be healed instantly? Maybe, maybe not. But they did as they were instructed and stood up to go see the priest in order for them to be examined. Miraculously, as they were on their way, their bodies were renewed. They were clean and healed.

The Thankfulness of Faith is that we need to be thankful even in our darkest hour. We need to constantly acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and He loves us all the same. In order for any change to occur in our lives, we need to – as the 10 men did – start walking in faith. We need to give all of ourselves to Christ – all our problems, all our anxieties and doubts. He will take us willingly and renew us.

Our God is a loving God; He continually gives us opportunities to be thankful to Him – even when, at face value, there isn’t much motivation to do so. Looking at biology, we see more and more that we have been created by a perfect God – and our human system is a prime example of this. Everything in our body is so well-controlled, so well-maintained and the balance is just right – if one thing tipped the balance, our bodies would not work. And yet, here we are functional, active and vibrant individuals. The perfection of our human body alone is a big motivation for why we need to be thankful each and every waking moment in our lives.

The second is the Thankfulness of Worship.
Among the ten healed men, only one returned – a Samaritan. Only one man returned to loudly proclaim his gratitude and praise for God. What’s interesting about this man is that it was probably the first time in years that he spoken without pain in his voice – in his heart. He could’ve yelled at the people on the streets who shunned him when they walked passed. He could’ve ran up to people saying “in your face…im healed”. But he didn’t – he did not seek their approval in the slightest – instead he ran back to his healer – Jesus Christ – just to express how grateful he is.

Another interesting thing about this man is that there’s a significant change between his first and second meeting with Christ. The 1st was when he was with the ten men – the mood was sombre – filled with pain. He was fearful of approaching Jesus and kept his distance as the social norms of the time required. But the 2nd meeting was completely different, he comes in close to lie down at Jesus’s feet – with humility, reverence and joy. This shows us that the healing not only cured his leprosy, but it created a yearning for intimacy with Jesus Christ. We see that faith lured him into a relationship with God that is intimate, healing and dependent – the man has found where he belongs.

The final level of thankfulness is the Thankfulness of action.
Can we say that the other 9 men had no faith? I think they did – they had faith enough in Jesus to start walking and they were healed. Did Jesus say that they must return to thank Him? No, all ten men did what they were instructed to do, and only one went beyond that and did what was expected of him.

One would say difference between the Samaritan man and the nine was that the man had manners to say thank you. But in all honesty, he couldn’t just leave – his life had changed. Jesus had renewed his life. He was not obliged to return but the man contained his excitement – at the point of healing, he could’ve done a number of other things: perhaps rush to his family. Instead, he had a burning passion, an uncontrollable rush and excitement to see his redeemer – Jesus Christ – and to be in His company.  The thankfulness of action is an expression of our need for God. The man’s response to this urge was to follow what he was meant to do – his purpose.

Jesus’s response to the man is “Get up and go on our way; your faith has made you well.” So what does this mean? The phrase “made well” means a number of things – particularly in this context.  What Jesus is saying to this man is that “You are now complete you are now of good quality and you are new creation in me.”

To conclude I’d like to say that we need to constantly acknowledge the Living God – He gives us life and strength. We need to be thankful to Him through our actions, worship and in faith. As in Hebrews 12, we need to run the race that the Lord laid before us with determination. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends. Jesus, himself, did not give up because of the cross. So, we too, should not let ourselves become discouraged and give up.

In a journal written by George Fox, he says to be made well, to live well, is to always stay by Jesus. In our lives as Christians, we’re expected to return in praise, in thanks, in humility, in service, in gentleness and mercy to our Lord: the Lord that heals us and makes us whole. Hope always takes us back to Jesus; Faith takes us back to Jesus. It is not because it is polite to say thank you to Him. It is because we love Him and we cannot stay away from him.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for Your Son. Guide us through Your mighty Power. Teach us to know Your voice when You speak to us. As we are about to enter a time of communion, give us an opportunity to reflect on these three levels of thankfulness – of Faith, Worship and Action – so that we walk in truth to the glory of your name. But most importantly Lord, we ask that you stir up a passion for Your name in our hearts so that we may be made complete through you. Amen.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Student Preaching Series Part II

The sermons that our Cathedral students are producing are deeply inspiring. Tonight our preacher came to push the boundaries with a grace and candor guided by the Holy Spirit.

We are proud of our Cathedral students for telling their truth as they know it.

Meet this evening's preacher...

Simone Tietz
CSM Position: Core Team Member
Degree: BA, Linguistics and Psychology
From: Swakopmund, Namibia 

Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.

"Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, `Come here at once and take your place at the table'? Would you not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, `We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'"


We have just heard the reading for tonight. Although it was read as one reading, it really has two parts it can be divided into.

And the apostles said to the Lord “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

This is the first part. “Faith as a mustard seed” – what does this mean? Well, here is a mustard seed. It is tiny; you can hardly see it from afar.

And yet the Lord says; if you have faith as a mustard seed, you could tell a mulberry tree to plant itself in the sea, and it would obey. How is this possible? Think about a mulberry tree being uprooted and planted in the sea – it seems impossible, thinking about it logically. But it shouldn’t be taken literally of course.  What this parable is trying to tell us is that even when our faith is little, the impossible is possible with God. This is a concept that might be hard to grasp.

Tonight I want to share with you how my little mustard seed of faith, made the seemingly impossible, possible. I was born into a Christian family, with my dad being a pastor of the German Lutheran church. I grew up learning about the Christian faith. When my siblings and I were old enough to think for ourselves, my parents told us that they would never force us to stay in the Christian faith if we decided otherwise. Yet, both my siblings and I chose to continue to grow in it. In 2008 my faith hit rock bottom. I was faced with something I was not quite sure how to deal with. For over half a year I fought with myself and my parents started to notice. With a bit of a nudge from my cousin I finally took a leap of faith. I sat down with my parents and after many tears on my part; I told my parents that I was gay. As Cath would say, whoops, there it is!

Although I knew my parents well enough to know that they would not reject me, I was still scared what their reaction would be. My gay cousin, to whom I obviously came out first, told me: Simone, don’t worry about your parents. After all it was your dad who told my mother that I wouldn’t burn in hell forever.

And still, I was very much aware of the fact that, being gay as a Christian, I might have to face judgement, rejection, people throwing bible verses at me that stated that being gay was a terrible sin. The reaction of my parents was simple. They came and hugged me and told me that it’s ok. I will never forget the words my dad said: Simone, even if it ever came to the point where I would have to choose between my job and you, I would always choose you.

Here I was, my faith tiny as a mustard seed, and suddenly the impossible seemed possible. The reaction of my parents gave me strength, hope and encouraged me. And so my faith grew. Step by step I came out to the rest of my family, to my friends. And every one of them told me that they loved me unconditionally and that nothing would change that. I had expected some negative reactions and possible rejections – but no; instead I was pleasantly surprised by the loving and welcoming arms that received me. And so my mustard seed of faith grew, and took roots. God could have sent people my way that would have crushed my tiny seed of faith. People who would have hurt me. What would have happened to my seed then? It wouldn’t have grown. It might have died completely. Would I still be standing here tonight, as strong in my faith, loving and serving God as I do today?  I don’t know, but I highly doubt it.

This is where the second part of the reading comes in:

“and which of you, having a servant ploughing or tending sheep, will say to him, when he has come in from the field, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do”

At first glance, I didn’t quite understand the reading. As I sat with Paul to discuss my sermon, he asked me: Who is the master and who are the servants? The master is God. The servants are us; you and me. Bearing that in mind let me tell you about the first and last hurtful experience I had since I came out.
When I came out to my other cousin and his wife, they responded negatively as opposed to everyone else. In a nutshell, they told me that it wasn’t the right path for me and that it wasn’t who I was, or who I was meant to be. This was painful. Fortunately by this time my faith was strong enough to pick me up. Almost three years later my cousin’s wife asked to speak with me. She started crying and told me about this marriage seminar she and my cousin had attended. During one of the sessions God touched her and spoke to her. He conveyed to her that she had done someone wrong and that she was meant to ask for forgiveness. So she told me: Simone I have done you and Jamie wrong. When you came out to us I should have responded the way a Father such as our heavenly Father would have: with love. Instead I responded in an unloving and judgemental manner. It weighs on me and I ask for your forgiveness.

I told her that I had forgiven her a long time ago. She was so happy because she had made right with God and me.

We are the servants. And as His servants we have duties, Christian duties. A part of these are the Ten Commandments. One of these commandments is to love thy neighbour as you love yourself. What my cousin’s wife had done three years later, was simply to fulfil her Christian duty. God told her that she had hurt someone, and so she asked for forgiveness. I, in turn, fulfilled my duty by forgiving her. She fulfilled her duty by showing me love. This is what God expects from us. He is a God of Love. It is our duty to love and serve him, and to show love to others.

In a book called “Radical Love – An introduction to Queer theology” by Patrick Cheng, the term ‘queer’ is explained and I will briefly explain it here. It is an umbrella term that refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning and other individuals with non-normative sexualities and/or gender identities. And, it can also include those who are neither of the above, but stand in solidarity with their queer sisters and brothers in terms of seeking a more just world with respect to sexuality and gender identity. I am quite fond of this definition of queer, because it includes everyone. Hence, we move from a derogatory perspective of the word to a more positive one.

In his book, Chang writes the following: “If radical love is understood as a love so extreme that it dissolves boundaries, then Jesus Christ is the living embodiment of the dissolution of boundaries”. It was Jesus himself who constantly dissolved the religious and social boundaries of his time. He ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. He touched “unclean” people such as lepers and bleeding women. He spoke with social outcasts such as Samaritans. In other words, Jesus Christ dissolved the ‘holy’ boundaries of clean and unclean, holy and profane, and saint and sinner. He challenged the religious and political authorities of his day – to such an extent that he was ultimately put to death.

This is our challenge as God’s servants. It is my challenge, it is our challenge: to dissolve the social and religious boundaries that exist between people of our time; between those who believe that being queer is a sin and those who are queer themselves. Boundaries that exist between races, cultures, classes, religions. These hurt people and separate people from each other. There should be no boundaries between a church and its people. Whom the church welcomes in its midst should not be based on any conditions. We are all His children and we all have the right, right to love Him, serve Him and worship Him. The rift between people is created by us.

I found a picture on FB a while ago, showing Christians standing at a gay parade. Their shirts read: I’m sorry. The posters read: We are sorry for the way the church has treated you. It is a very powerful picture. These people fulfilled a Christian duty. Showing love, asking for forgiveness.
I feel so blessed to be in a church and community such as the Cathedral’s. No-one should ever be turned away for any reason at all. This church has welcomed me with open arms even before they knew that I was queer as well as after. God does not turn anyone away who seeks Him. My confirmation verse I chose for myself says exactly that in Proverbs 8:17, “I love those who love me and those who seek me diligently will find me”.

God is not defined by boundaries. There is neither limit nor condition to His love and His forgiveness. His power and might are endless. It is us who put a boundary to God and His love and acceptance toward others. Who are we to judge? It is to God, and to God alone to whom we have to answer one day. Not anyone else. I don’t believe that I have sinned by loving another human being, who happens to be a girl. How can I be so confident about that? I love and serve a God whose love is unconditional. For You, me, everyone. Personally He has shown me His love in so many ways. It is through His mercy that we experience this unconditional love – it is His gift to us. And this unconditional love we can pass on to others.

As God’s servants we are called to do what Jesus himself did in dissolving boundaries. Open your minds and your hearts, and send out love, not hate, be accepting rather than rejecting, forgiving rather than holding grudges. Once we have fulfilled our Christian duties and done what we were commanded to do, instead of expecting thanks, we humbly say as the scripture tells us to: We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do. Amen.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Student Preaching Series

One of my responsibilities as Student Minister at the Cathedral is to plan preachers for the Student Services. Heavily attended by students, and listening to brilliance of the students I work with, I thought it'd be appropriate to have a student preaching series. Along with the garden, it seemed like a good opportunity for the students to dig deeper into their spiritual lives and share, using the language of their peers, how God lives within them, speaks to them, and how their faith informs their personality in their young adult years.

With many students interested in preaching and limited spots we decided that the students that are graduating would get first dibs on preaching spots. Last week, 29 September, was the first Sunday of the preaching series. And the message as POWERFUL! Each week I will post the text of the sermon given, and a short bio of the person who gave the sermon!


Catherine Baytopp
CSM Position: Chairwoman
Degree: BA, Psychology and Journalism
From: Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Gospel Reading: Luke 16: 19-31

Jesus said, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

Today we celebrate the patronal festival of the Cathedral, the 160th birthday of the Cathedral and the celebration of our patron Saints Michael and George. It is incredibly special to be sitting in a church that for 160 years has been a place of worship, fellowship and a home to all God’s people. But what does it mean to be a Godly person? How are we living our lives so that what we celebrate in this Cathedral can be seen everywhere we go.
When thinking about this reading I was weary about preaching about something we have all heard before. Deny worldly things and place all your faith in God. The anti-consumerists sermon that is preached so often.
What stood out for me in this passage was use of binary opposites.

·      Rich vs Poor,
·      inclusion vs exclusion 
·      compassion vs indifference,
·      faith vs unbelief,
·      Heaven vs hell.

Without lessoning the importance of the last 2 I am going to focus on the first 3.
Rich vs Poor, as students and young adults we are now starting to learn the value of our own money. Whether we earn it, get it as an allowance or are here on a scholarship. In this parable Jesus is not saying that to be rich is to be sinful nor is being poor holy, but it is where you place the power in your life that is important. Are we allowing God to be in control to grant us eternal riches or are we controlled by our desire for superficial, worldly power. The type that is instantly gratifying, but short lived.  

By being rich in worldly things have we become poor in our relationship with God? Where do we start to rebuild our lives when we feel as if we have lost God?
 As students rich does not only mean to have monetary wealth. We tend to place emphasis on our social wealth, the number of friends we have, are we invited to the Rat every Friday night, do we have more than 500 friends on Facebook, how many followers do we have on Twitter?

What importance is all of this in our relationship with God?

When we walk down New street can people see that we are children of God, rich in God’s love or are we hiding this for the sake of our street cred? If this is the case the power in our life is not that of God, but a desire to be wealthy in a superficial world. I’m not saying that you need to give up your friends, or your money or delete your social network profiles, I am simply saying that perhaps we all need reconsider whether those that we surround ourselves helping us build a deep and rich relationship with the Lord or slowly helping us to forget it landing us in spiritual and Godly poverty. Because in the long run this is the relationship that matters most.

We need to consciously and purposefully give the power in our lives to God and yes we may lose something by doing this, but when we are serving a God who sacrificed his own son to save us how can we deny the relatively small sacrifice he expects from us?
Like the rich man, are we only going to realise all too late that we needed that relationship with God more than the hundred likes on our last Facebook status.
The idea of surrounding ourselves with Godly people lends itself to the next binary that of inclusion vs exclusion

Now we are all faced with the idea of being included or excluded. Some of it is forced on us by virtue of our gender, race, or religion, all of these governing the groups that will include us whether we like it or not.

Here’s an example, Zandile is a child that I work with every week suffering from cerebral palsy, she cannot walk, talk or communicate in anyway, none of this is her fault yet she is immediately excluded from ‘normal’ society.

This may seem like an extreme example but I ask you to think  about what aspects of your life, that you have not chosen, have granted you opportunities that others may not have, and what has left you feeling excluded or different?

Then there is also inclusion and exclusion that is controlled by us. The friendship groups we are in, the activities we partake in, the fact that we all decided to come to this Cathedral tonight.
What does this mean?

God gave us free will, the will to choose where we want to be included and where we choose to exclude ourselves. Are we consciously deciding to include ourselves in activities that will bring glory to God, are we open to include people who are seeking a relationship with God, but maybe aren’t at the same point as us or have different opinions to us? Are we excluding ourselves from dangerous, self-destructive things that may provide immediate satisfaction, but in the long run leave us feeling empty and alone? Like the rich man, are we seeking inclusion in the world rather than inclusion is God’s Kingdom?

The third contrast that is made is that of compassion vs indifference.
I’m sure as residents of Grahamstown we can all relate to the rich man as he walks past Lazarus lying on the pavement and pays no attention to this man with no home. We pass begging hands on the way to Pick ’n Pay and shrug them off or give them a look of disapproval. Our disdain and indifference towards these people in palpable.

To be different from the rich man, we do not have to give every person we pass on the street our hard earned money, but we do need to acknowledge them as people as more than just a body lying on the side of the road, an obstacle to jump over. Their humanity is as worthy as ours.

This indifference can be seen in other places in our lives too.  

Many of us also hold strong opinions about every day issues, be it politics, sexuality or religion.
 I recently read a quote by Rick Warren that ended, “we do not have to compromise our convictions to be compassionate”.

Our opinions are not going to change overnight, but we are commanded to love one another as we love ourselves and as God loves us. We cannot be cold, distant and hateful to those who are different to us. How do we encourage people to find God when we are not willing to hear them, love and show them what it means to be a person of God. Are we open to loving people like Zandile, like the person sitting next to you, like the person who spreads rumours about you, the person who laughs at your religion or the homeless child who never gives up? God calls us to love them all

How do we do this?


Instead of shrugging people off, pray for them, even if you may look a little strange standing on the side of the road, with your eyes closed, deep in prayer.

And Love,
Treat people the way you want to be treated. Show love even if you may disagree, with what we may think or how they act.
Doing this isn’t easy but, it’s is a struggle that we will all face together.
So what are the commonalities between these three contrasts? Is it:
Good vs evil
·      God vs the world

I will leave you to come to your own conclusion, but perhaps it is that to do all of this we need God’s unconditional love as our example.

Now as we consider these three opposites we realise that the other two, faith vs unbelief and heaven vs hell. If we have faith then we will be called to love other, include ourselves in God’s army and find wealth in our relationship with God. And by doing this we will be saved from a life of eternal suffering and allowed into eternal peace with God.   

So I ask that as we leave this Cathedral as people of God, may we be people that  are compassionate even when it comes with a sacrifice,  to be inclusive rather than exclusive and find our richness in God’s love.  

Project Eden: The End and The Beginning...

About a month ago the Cathedral Student Ministry decided that a proper gift to the Cathedral for it's 160th Anniversary Celebrations would be a revitalization of the garden beds around the Cathedral. At the time I wrote a blog post about the idea, showing pictures of the garden beds, and discussing the dream of a more beautiful space (the post is below this one). Well, I kind of haven't posted anything since then. And not for any particular reason other than the fact that life gets ahead of us sometimes. But, it's nice to come back to Undiscovered Brother with an update about the project that only one and a half months ago was merely an idea--a dream. 

On Sunday, 22 September, the Cathedral Student Ministry planted the garden beds! They named the gardening project, Project Eden. And, indeed, the mood of the event was that of a new beginning.

When we started the project we were unsure of exactly how everything would come together. We knew we wanted to present the garden beds to the Cathedral as a gift. We knew that we wanted to invite Cathedral congregants to offer their gardening gifts and talents. We knew we wanted to invite community members and organizations to  share in the project. We knew we'd have to account for vandalism--people stealing plants for medicinal reasons, loose donkey and cattle eating the plants, and our homeless brothers and sisters potentially using the garden as a toilet. So, we began with a lot of questions, with a lot of hopes, and with a vision that had shape, but no specific detail. We offered our idea up to God, and we asked for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and hearts to potential solutions and possibilities. We knew that congregants would love the idea. We knew that community members would love to offer their help. And after hearing warning after warning of the potential vandalism by "street people," we felt that we had to continue by trusting our neighbors--whether living in homes or out of them--appealing to their deeper humanity.

One day, on a pastoral visit with the Cathedral's Pastoral Assistant Wayne Van Rooyen, I met Val and Rose Buchner. Val and Rose are avid gardeners. Their yard is bursting with indigenous South African plants, flowers, and aloes of all kinds. In their backyard one can find lemons and a lettuce patch. It is, indeed, a place full of life--well taken care of and nurtured. Val gave me a tour of his gardens, and showed me the type of manure that he uses. Behind a shed he had bags and bags of horse manure from a place in Grahamstown called the Grahamstown Riding Club--horse stables. Val agreed that he'd be eyes and ears on the ground for us--pun intended--helping us think about types of plants we could use, and how to manage such a big project. After that visit the CSM spoke with the folks at the Grahamstown Riding Club to see if they would be interested in sponsoring manure for our project. After discussing the option as a charitable donation, the lady at the riding club laughed at me and said, "'s just manure. We'd be more than happy to give you whatever you need."

A few days later I was talking to Maurice about the garden and all of the things that the Student Ministry needed to do in order to get things ready by September. Maurice suggested that I talk to Br. Timothy Jolley from the Order of the Holy Cross, the monastery where Maurice is staying, because Br. Timothy takes manages the gardens at the monastery and probably would be more than happy to assist with the garden. He was! The idea excited him like one couldn't have imagined. He drove with me down to the Cathedral from the monastery, and he discussed what plants would work best in what garden beds according to what trees were around, and the amount of sun the garden beds received. Soon after the CSM planned a retreat weekend to the monastery. Along with Val Buchner, one Saturday, we attended noon-day prayer with the brothers, we had lunch with them, then Br. Timothy walked us through the monastery gardens to show us indigenous plants that were strong and would work well in the garden beds. He then offered to donate ALL of the plants that we would need for the garden. After we took a tour through the gardens we sat in a conference room at the monastery and workshopped the project. We started off with prayer, then we discussed what we thought the Spirit was saying to us about this project by focusing on the feelings and emotions we experience when thinking about Project Eden. A discussion of our feelings was a starting point for us to begin thinking about we wanted to tell the story of Project Eden, how we wanted to plan the gardening event, and the general ethos that we wanted this project to take on. In that workshop we planned the program for the garden party, and the events that would take place during the gardening (ex. face painting, speck boom planting stations, and a hotdog stand).

At this point, with all of the excitement from congregants and community organizations alike, we knew that we were on to something. Still, we could only see the shape of the project. But, the details were starting to come together. Even the local grocery store agreed to donate 200 hotdogs and hotdog buns for the day of the event. But, what happened next would take many people by surprise...

In staff meeting one morning the Dean and Sub-Dean of the Cathedral asked me had I seen the municipality digging up the garden beds. I hadn't. I was shocked. In talks with many Cathedral members I learned that the garden beds actually belonged to the municipality, but the municipality had given the Cathedral permission, long ago, to do whatever we pleased with them. I ran down to the gardens, and asked the foreman to have his boss call me before they planted anything. The next morning I got a call from the municipalities director of grounds and gardens, Kevin Bates. After I explained the project to Kevin he was more than happy to meet me so that we could discuss a possible collaboration. We met at the garden and he loved the idea that the CSM was taking up this project. He offered to import large and small aloes, and an assortment of other indigenous plants for the project; as well as wood chips and large rocks for accent.

This was the result a one and half month long process of prayer, people coming together, and planning...

I'm not sure anyone could have expected such a warm reception to our idea. From the offering up of resources and helping hands, to the prayers that could be felt. What is most evident here, for me, is this theme of "process." Often we hear that we must fall in love with the "process" if we are to get the most out of life. For a long time I didn't know exactly what this meant. Yet, as I get older that concept of "falling in love with the process" makes more sense. It is true in terms of planning a garden, waiting for some internal transformation of the spirit, or watching a plant take root in the ground to become something that we cannot yet see, but trust will be. The process is the liminal space of our existence where most of the work is done, where mini-victories are won in respect to the larger battle, where mini-setbacks keep us on our toes, where one waits for a response to an email asking for sponsorship or advice, where one stumbles upon a new friend that has endless knowledge about the very thing you've been struggling to grasp or understand, where people disagree about what will work and will not. The Process is the space where we are called to be active in planning and active in waiting--putting things in place, and leaving room for the Holy Spirit to put them there for us. No one in CSM knew about the Grahamstown Riding Club before this event, or that Val Buchner had a garden for a yard, or that Br. Timothy was a gardener par excellence, or that the Makana Municipality had planned to cultivate the garden beds the same week as our event. But, because this project was held in prayer I believe that the energy of God drew all of us together.

The students will have a memory that they can cherish for years to come. They have an experience that they can share with friends and family. They can talk about how one small idea became a reason to bring neighbors together. I call that revelation: when seemingly isolated situations speak vividly to one another, through time, bearing a gift that brings about the greatest joys of the heart, mind, and soul.

And looking at the garden two weeks later we see that the end of one process inevitably inaugurates another process. We rejoice in the moments of completion, and we look to God with faith and thanksgiving to be with us as we begin the new process of taking care of and watering the gardens. And it is by faith, and the evidence of the garden, that we know that God will show us new things as we learn what it means to be responsible for and with the blessing God has given the Cathedral!