November 2023

Thursdays at Volmoed – Sermon for the Feast of St Andrew

Scripture Readings

Today is the Feast Day of St Andrew, one of the twelve apostles who formed the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples as recorded in the Gospels. Andrew is most commonly identified as the brother of Simon Peter. I wonder if he ever got tired of that. Peter and Andrew are often associated with James and John, who were their fishing partners before responding to Jesus’ call to follow him. The four of them shared many experiences with Jesus, but sometimes it was just the three – Peter, James and John – without Andrew. I wonder how he felt about that. I feel sad for Andrew that he missed out on the Transfiguration.

Andrew is perhaps more highly regarded in the Eastern Orthodox church than in the West. The Eastern church has given him the honorific Protokletos, the First-Called, based on the account early in John’s Gospel in which John the Baptist points out Jesus to two of his own disciples, one of whom is Andrew, who immediately goes after Jesus and spends the rest of the day in his company at his invitation to come and see. Andrew then goes to find his brother Simon, tells him he has found the Messiah, and takes him to Jesus, who gives him the name Peter.

As one of the Twelve, Andrew was given authority by Jesus and sent out to proclaim the good news in word and deed, sharing peace with those who would receive it. Andrew continued doing this after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. Throughout the rest of his life, Andrew is said to have travelled far and wide, sharing Jesus’ teachings, and his influence endured long after his death.

October 2023 News

Gradual recovery from the devastating storms of late September continues, within the Western Cape generally as well more locally within the Hermanus area and specifically in the Hemel-and-Aarde Valley including here at Volmoed, where efforts are underway to clean up the riverbanks (which has also provided material for neighbours to use in repairing roads on their properties) though the main access road onto the Volmoed property remains impassable. The lengthy detour along a dusty unpaved road with increased traffic volumes is still necessary for travel into Hermanus, though work on opening the main road through the bottom of the valley has begun. The electricity supply remains somewhat unstable, and there are water restrictions for townspeople as the water supply is still constrained.

Br Roger travelled to Mariannhill Monastery Retreat House in Pinetown KZN to attend the annual meeting of the Council for the Religious Life, together with representatives from most of the other religious communities in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, as well as the Liaison Bishop who facilitates the interaction between the Council and the institutional Church. The meeting took place over two days in early October, and included reports from each community about its life and work, as well as discussion of challenges that exist within communities and between communities and the church. We also prayed and ate together and had times of fellowship, all of which strengthened the supportive relationships among communities.

Sunday Sermon – November 5 at Volmoed

Readings for this day :: Gospel for this day

A few things come together this week – in a random sort of way… It is the week of All Saints Day. In fact, many churches keep All Saints on this very day. All Hallows or All Saints Eve, Halloween as it is popularly known, was also this week; a day built around bringing many fearful superstitions to life. While many congregations keep All Saints on a Sunday, nobody seems to move Halloween… 

It is also the conclusion of the Colloquium here at Volmoed – a colloquium that has been considering faith in an age of darkness, fear, anxiety, doubt… It might not seem like the most obvious pairing, but just as Halloween pairs well with All Saints Day, I think the Colloquium pairs well with All Saints. Darkness makes the Saints seem brighter. And without a dose of darkness, All Saints runs the risk of being a shallow, triumphant and unnourishing sort of pudding. 

So, let’s add a dolop of darkness.