On Sunday 19 July 2020, Apostle Jacques Cronjé conducted the Sunday morning divine service at Silvertown congregation. The divine service was conducted in Afrikaans and interpreted into English at the altar by retired Priest Kennard Kotze.
He was accompanied by Bishop Gerhard Kotze, a small music ensemble and the NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng and SABIE stereo. Members could also listen to the divine service by calling in from either a mobile phone or landline. This divine service was also streamed live on the NACTV Facebook page.
For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: Christ, Whose glory fills the skies (EH: 273)
Bible Word: “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus (14:14)
My dear brothers and sisters, wherever you find yourself, perhaps in isolation, perhaps alone – may you find that through the serving of the Holy Spirit that the Lord enters into your space. And may everyone, again today, experience His love.
Allow me to give a little bit of background to the Bible word of today: the Israelites found themselves in slavery in Egypt. And then, through mighty intervention from God, the king Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, was moved to give them their freedom. Moses led the people out of Egypt to the Promised Land, and God took them on a detour through the wilderness so that they could avoid certain conflicts and dangers. In the meantime, Pharaoh changed his mind and, with his army, he chased after the Israelites. The Israelites became aware of this. They came to the Red Sea, and with the Egyptians behind them, they were cornered before the sea. They see no way out. They start panicking. They complain and murmur. They blame God and they blame Moses. And, in this situation, Moses speaks to the people according to the Bible word: “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” And then God intervenes in a wonderful manner. They walk through the Red Sea on dry land and the Egyptians die in the Red Sea.
Brothers and sisters, there are many today who find themselves in difficult situations that also feel hopeless. There are the terrible consequences of the pandemic that has hit us. Many are anxious; they have pain and they are hurting. And they see no light and find themselves in a very dark place. In these circumstances, let us take into consideration the encouragement of Moses. God fights for us, let us become quiet. The soloist sang a beautiful hymn: Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here. God is ever-present. Let us become quiet before Him. Let us become quiet before His power. Let us become quiet before His might. God is also all-knowing. He knows what we are going through. And just as God carried the Israelites and rescued them in their circumstances, so He will also carry us through. Our core message today is: we become quiet and we trust our God.
Another thought about being quiet: let us become quiet in our murmurings and complaints. Let us become quiet in our accusations and blame. Let us become quiet in our criticism and judgement. You know, someone who is always complaining doesn’t really make a great impact. On the contrary, many people avoid such a person. Let us rather ask ourselves what we can do to make a difference? What can I contribute? How can I assist and help my neighbour? Let our deeds do the talking. My thoughts turn to Jesus Christ as our example. When Jesus walked on the earth, He made a great impact with His behaviour and deeds. There are many situations that testify to this. Let me refer to one such situation: the Pharisees brought the woman who was caught in adultery to Him. According to the Law of Moses, she was to be stoned. They wanted to test Jesus. They wanted to know what He thought about this matter. It was interesting that Jesus did not debate them on this matter. On the contrary, Jesus became quiet, bent down and He wrote in the sand. And then, He stood up and He made a simple statement: the one who is without sin, cast the first stone. And then, very indicative, He again bent down and He again wrote in the sand. And then we know those who were accusing her, one by one, they slipped away. And then He spoke to the woman. He didn’t cross-question her. He didn’t berate her in any way. On the contrary, He pertinently says to her: I do not judge you; go and sin no more. Dear brothers and sisters let us see this beautiful image. Let us become quiet and also bend down and write all the judgements we have towards each other, write it in the sand and allow the wind to blow it away.
Now, dear brothers and sisters, I would like to focus on our children. The words ‘be quiet’ are not words that children often like to hear. They have so much energy, they are busy and they would like to talk. Teachers sometimes struggle to keep the classroom quiet. But dear children, there is a time to be quiet – it is good. If we do not become quiet, then we cannot listen and learn. Let us listen and learn from our teachers. They would like to prepare children for the future to ensure that you are successful and achieve something very special. Let us become quiet and listen to our parents. Yes, sometimes we feel they don’t understand us; they are old-fashioned. But, remember, they were also children. They have so much experience. And, sometimes, when they preach to us it is because they love us. Let us become quiet and listen to the Sunday school teachers. In this time of confinement, we are thankful to the parents who are presenting Sunday School lessons. They teach us of Jesus Christ. They teach us how beautiful He was; how beautiful His nature was. They teach us of His special example. We love Jesus, and then we try to emulate His example. And then, dear children, we become as beautiful as He. And this ensures a beautiful future for us.
Another thought to the children: we grew up with a certain ruling. There is an old saying that children should be seen and not heard. Yes, children shouldn’t always be in adult’s conversation. And we understand this. But dear children, there is a time when children should be seen and heard – and this is when you or your friends are being hurt and bullied by other children – then you must speak up. If adults are perhaps hurting you; when you are afraid of certain adults; when they make you do things that make you feel bad - things that you know are wrong – then speak out. Go to someone who cares for you. Go to someone whom you trust and speak to someone so this situation can be stopped. And now, my thoughts go to parents and adults. I want to make a small adaptation to this saying. The District Apostle reminded me of this: “children should be seen and not hurt”. As adults, let us take responsibility for our children as they are a gift from God.
A further thought around the matter of being quiet: the concept of quiet time and family time for prayer is a tradition in many Christian households. My thoughts go back to my childhood years: it was a tradition in our house that we, the four sons, every morning before we left home, we would move to our parents’ room, and there, around the bed, we would pray together. Brothers and sisters let me use this image of a family that prays together in a room as a metaphor for our personal room of prayer. Let us often enter our personal room of prayer. Let us become quiet in this room of prayer and speak to God rather than to have negative conversations with each other and demotivate each other. Let us pray to God. We pray for the leaders of our country. We pray for wisdom for the church leadership. We pray for those in the medical field. We pray for those who are essential workers. We carry each other in intercessory prayers before God. We pray for our circumstances, our temptations. So, we make a contribution and we make a difference.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us also become quiet with regards to our good works. We do not blow our own trumpet. When good works are the result of sincere love; love for God and our neighbour, then there is no need to proclaim these good works. Then the knowledge that God knows everything is good enough for us.
In conclusion, I am thinking of the words the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans. He writes in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Just as God intervened to save the Israelites, so He will also send His Son - eventually, we will be free. Free from evil, circumstances, pain and suffering. We will enter into God’s eternal kingdom. We will enter into the glory of His kingdom and there we will be free of all these temptations and circumstances. Let us keep this calling in sight. We keep in sight the return of Jesus Christ. This will also help us to carry through these circumstances.
Dear brothers and sisters, just a short summary: we have heard much concerning being quiet before whom, in the “what” and the “how” and to trust God. We have also been encouraged to make a contribution with our deeds. During my preparation, there was a motto that came to mind. And this short motto encapsulates the divine service. This motto is: be silent and make a difference. Let us take this motto with us. I repeat. Be silent and make a difference. Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Jacques Cronjé