On Sunday 26 September 2021, District Apostle John Kriel conducted the central AVT divine service at Dinwiddie congregation. The divine service was conducted in English and interpreted into South African Sign Language (SASL) at the altar by sister Natasha Parkins-Maliko.
He was accompanied by Apostle Jeremia Joubert, 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. 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: What shall the harvest be? (EH:164)
Bible word: “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.” (Matthew 24:40-41)
District Apostle Kriel:
My dear brothers and sisters, here, and as you know, our entire area is connected, including Mozambique and Madagascar and the Islands, together with the many who tuned into us. I want to say, I bid you all a hearty welcome. And as an exception, I would like to use this opportunity. In a sense, before we commence with the sermon of this divine service, just to pause for a moment. In the last 18 months, we have been through one of the toughest periods throughout the world, and not least, our area as well. And we want to take this opportunity and just pause for a moment and acknowledge the sadness of so many. And here I want to focus on the sadness of those who have lost loved ones. Fortunately, in our faith, every Sunday we remember our loved ones who have gone and entered the beyond. This morning already, I received so many messages of another one, another two or three that have departed this life. And they leave behind loved ones. They leave behind sad ones. They leave behind mothers and fathers and children. They leave behind those who cry. And sometimes we haven't even got the time to grieve. And then there's another one that we have to grieve for. Some families have experienced multiple losses. And dear brothers and sisters, and when I say brothers and sisters, I mean the whole community. I want to assure you that you are not forgotten. You know when one passed on last week, one could say, well my husband who passed away a year or 18 months ago was forgotten. And here I don't only talk about those who died because of Corona problems. But many entered the beyond. And not just because of the Coronavirus. So dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, dear family, know that you are remembered. Know that you are loved. Know that you are cared for. Know that you are prayed for. To all of you we say, we share your loss. You are not forgotten. We continue to pray that you find comfort and strength in your season of loss and of sadness. I also want to pause for the moment, as we enter into the period of Thanksgiving. We want to pause for a moment and say thank you. Thank you to those on the front line. Here we think of our medical staff. From the surgeon to the cleaner, to the one who cooks the food for the patients. All involved. We think of the service industry. We think of the civil servants. All who have helped to make the burden easier. To you, we say a deep thank you! We don't forget you either. Because tirelessly, if you think of the poor doctors and nurses and how many deaths they have to witness. Then we remember you too and we thank you and your families for the support that you give. And I want to exclude no one. And therefore, I say everyone. And then within the church. I want to say a special thank you to our Priests, to our Rectors, to our service to God's people. Day after day they have to bring comfort to so many. And some of them have to endure sadness themselves and not rob God's people of the comfort that they bring. Dear brothers, thank you for that. Dear Rectors, thank you for having to conduct so many funerals and not grow tired and suffer from “comfort” fatigue. You continue to go. Know that it is appreciated. Know that our God knows, and He will give us the strength to carry on. So, let us be mindful. We do not live in a bubble. As we know, we are part of society. We are part of those who suffer. And dear brothers and sisters, dear bereaved ones, know that you are not forgotten. Thankfully, as I say, in our faith, we remember our loved ones who have gone before us in every divine service on a Sunday. They are not forgotten. We remember them. And then we remember those who are still fighting for their lives. May the Lord God also grant all that which is needed. And again, as I said, as we enter the season of Thanksgiving. You are also, I want to almost say, on the top of the list. We thank God for you and for all that you do. Please know that whatever you do is not forgotten by our God, but also not forgotten by us.
For this purpose, I want to ask us all to rise and pause for a moment. For a moment in thankfulness for all that He has done. And for the care and grace our Lord God has given us. Don't give up. Don't grow tired. Remain in the hope. Our heavenly Father will provide all that we need.
Moment of reflection followed by a musical item
So, my dear brothers and sisters, a positive message here from our musicians to ‘never give up.’ And that's our purpose of our life, is to carry on. Because those who remain faithful to the end will be saved. No matter what our circumstances may be. Be assured, our heavenly Father is aware of that. He will take care of us. He will hold our hand until we reach completion.
We have a Bible word today out of the book of Matthew 24. Now if you read Matthew 24, it is all about Jesus telling His disciples, telling the people of His return. When He will come back and what will happen, and the promise and the purpose of our very existence. Because you must remember that God created man to spend eternity and have fellowship with Him. That's the purpose of our life. And then He told them about His coming. And they were all human beings like us when He said He is coming again. When you visit your family and you say, ‘see you again’. What do they ask? When will we see you again? When is it? And they all want to know when this will be. When will You come to fetch us? And Matthew 24 goes on. But the basic message is, the Lord says He does not even know. And as true man, He did not know. He says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” So, we don't know the hour. We don't know the day. And His message to everyone is you remain faithful because the Son of Man cometh at an hour that you do not know. So, we must remain steadfast. We must remain faithful. We must do what He tells us to do. Remain in the path that He placed us on because He will come again. There is absolutely no doubt. We passed through, as we were just in the opening address, with sadness, and how the world is turned upside down. But even this will not stop the Lord from fulfilling His promise. He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” And that is no fairy tale. Jesus said so. And if He said so, then indeed, it will be so. So, it's important that God's people and the congregations are reminded. Let's not forget our Father promised us, Jesus promised that He will come. And He certainly will. Let's not try to work out when. Because when He comes, it's actually not important. For me to be worthy when He comes, that's important. And so, we want to do our best.
Our Bible word tells us about two people in the field. You know, when the soloist sang What shall the harvest be? Here in the field, they were busy sowing and reaping. So, there are two in the field, and then there are two at the mill. There already, the harvesting has been done and now there's a further process further down the line. And in Luke, we read about two that are also in the bed. That means at the end of the day there is a conclusion. There is nothing more happening. No more sowing or reaping. And here, these three scenarios paint a picture that the Lord will come when everybody is busy doing what they normally do. That's what they do. But what will happen? On that fateful day, the Lord will come, and some will be taken. And sadly, some not. That's where that separation takes place. And we all want to be with those who want to go with the Lord. Surely, that's where we want to be. And we don't even want to try and work out the sum to say, okay only 50% will go. That's irrelevant. Out of all walks of life, there will be those who go and those who don’t. And here we see, maybe this picture is symbolic of the Church. Symbolic of the congregations. There are some, where they are in the field. Where there is so much activity happening. Mission work is being done. Many are coming to the truth and being sealed and baptized and accepting the Lord. And this vibrancy, this development takes place and for which we are very thankful. Then there are those who have already reaped. Where the congregations have stabilized. Where what must happen is happening. Focused on completion. And then there are those whom we found in the bed. Where many congregations cannot gather anymore. They have been closed because the authorities closed them. Or for health reasons. Or sometimes the servants are just too old and there is nobody to care for them anymore. And none of these conditions will disqualify anyone from going with the Lord when He comes. He says, out of all of them, some will be taken, and the others not. It doesn't matter what the conditions are. The congregation has come to a total standstill. We can’t say the Lord can’t come because we've gone through this, so we can't do the other. Dear brothers and sisters, nothing will prevent the Lord from fulfilling His promise. So, we must stay focused amidst our hardships and cares. The promise of the Lord God is valid for all of us. Whether you're in a situation where you're in the field. Whether you are at the mill. Whether you are in the bed. It doesn't matter. The Lord will come.
And under these circumstances, life offers no guarantees. Because among them, one could say, in our terms, are the faithful and unfaithful. Now that always bothers me a little bit, because who determines whether I am faithful or not faithful. But we have our own little things that we say. So, no one is spared. If the congregation is dormant, those in the bed, there are faithful followers of Christ and those who are not so faithful. Even for those in the field. In the beginning stages of the congregation, there are those who are eager and willing to serve God and the others not. But it doesn't matter. If you follow the Lord Jesus, you are not exempted from circumstances. You are not exempted from tribulation that we have to pass through. And we are quite good at trying to work out when somebody is not so faithful in our eyes. If something goes wrong in their lives and they have some tribulation. What do we say? We say they don't want to listen and now the Lord is speaking to them. The Lord wants to change their path of life. And even worse, we sometimes conclude that the Lord wants to punish them. But now we take one that is, in our mind, a faithful follower of Christ. And eagerly working in the congregation. And the same circumstances befall that one. Then what do we say? The Lord is busy finalizing and putting them through the final fire. The Lord is busy perfecting him. How can we draw these conclusions? I think the only conclusion we can draw, is that we are all perfectly inadequate to explain the ways of God. We don't know. We cannot say and dish out what God is giving to each one. Each one is an individual within himself that the Lord God looks at, and He takes care. Because it's not important how we got into the circumstances. It's important how we get through it. And with God, we can. And when He does come, what is vital He says, you will be judged according to your love and your faith. “…when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” And in the end time, the love of many will go cold. So, we want to ensure, no matter where we find ourselves, what our conditions, what our circumstances may be, we need to see and take a measurement that my faith and my love is intact. And that it is immovable.
True faith is more than belief. More than religion. More than culture or tradition. It is much more than that. Faith is the true commitment and adherence to essential truths. What is true to us, believe in it and don't compromise. What is that for us? God exists. God lives. And God is love. Man got to know God. He revealed Himself and He sent His Son. And through Jesus, we know God because He says, “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” And that's what gave us the image of God, through His Son Jesus. And He manifests Himself today through the activity of the Holy Spirit. And that's why we can still hear Jesus today through the teaching of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is active in us, in what we do, in what we say. That's how the Lord God manifests Himself. So, God is present. He is alive. He is with us. Don't ever doubt that. And don't ever lose God along the way. Some time ago, I was told about a mother who had two sons who were extremely naughty. But another woman said, ‘You know what helped my children is that I took them to confession. And after confession, they were the best children I could ever have.’ And the mother thought she'd do the same. When they went, the older brother was first to enter the confession box. I think we all know what confession is. He goes alone and the Priest is behind the curtain and so on. And the Priest asked him, ‘My boy, where is God?’ And he didn't know the answer. And the Priest asked a second time, ‘Where is God?’ And the third time he got a bit agitated and said, ‘My boy, tell me where is God?’ And at that point, the boy took off. He got up and ran. And he took the hand of his brother and the two of them ran. And the younger one wanted to know why they were running. And as they came around the corner, they stopped for a while. The older one said to him, ‘Hey, we are in trouble. They lost God. And what's worse is they are blaming us for it.’ Maybe, just a point, we can’t afford to lose God. The truth is there. And He wants to give us eternal life so that we can enter the glory of His Father. And you know what the beauty of that is? When we enter the glory of the Father then all our sorrows will be forgotten. No matter what the pain is we experience here, it will be forgotten. Because the glory of the Father will supersede all our suffering. And by the way, all our joy. If we think we had such great times here, the glory of the Father will be much greater than anything we experienced upon the earth. That is faith. That we know God exists. How do we know God exists? Through His Son and the activity of the Spirit. He wants to give us His kingdom. And the path to His kingdom is the gospel. That's why the gospel is so important to us. The gospel teaches us the way to live. The gospel teaches us the way to His kingdom. And we want to live and apply the gospel in our lives, so that we are victorious and that we can enter the place that He has gone to prepare for us. This is our faith. This is our inner conviction. And nobody should take that away from us.
And then our faith goes further to say that here in the church, we are being prepared through the Apostolate of Christ just as Jesus commissioned. We are being prepared to enter the kingdom. So, we want to allow ourselves to be taught. We want to allow ourselves to receive from our God that which He has gone to prepare for us. And here we are being prepared, the Bride of Christ, by the Apostolate of Jesus Christ, just as He decreed. And we want to take that. We want to believe that. And we want to follow. Remember, the inner conviction. Not just a religion. Not just going to church. But that we are convinced by the teaching. This is essential. Faith is essential. It cannot be replaced by anything. And dear brothers and sisters, I cannot believe for you. You cannot believe for me. Dear parent, you cannot believe for your child. But let us endeavour to build the faith within each other, so that we are able to grow and that our faith eventually can become sight. And then we also see the love. And this love is more than emotion and affection. Remember, we will be judged upon faith and love. This love is more than emotion. It is more than an affection or a nice feeling. This love is a burning desire that we have in our hearts. We want to be with the Lord. He must come. And we pray every day that the Lord should come. This love allows us to be touched by God, and by His Spirit always. That we are in touch with God in our thoughts, in our prayers and in divine services, whenever we are able to come, that we are in touch with our God. We are going to meet Him. He is going to speak with us, and I can recognize His voice. You will always recognize the voice of a loved one. He is there. He wants to teach us. And because we love Him, we want to renounce everything that can hinder our fellowship with Him. So, anything that can take away from being close to God, this becomes then for us something that we want to overcome. Something we want to avoid because it's placing my relationship with God in jeopardy. Because we love Him, we want to serve Him. If I look at our musicians, and I think of their gifts and talents and they willingly come and say, I am prepared to serve God because I love Him. For no other reason. And each and every one of us has gifts and talents. Dear brother and sister, come let us serve Him. Come, let us help. Come let us complete the work. And when we love Him dearly, we say Lord we want to become like You. We want to love like You. We want to forgive like You, as the example of our Lord Jesus was for us. So, that is the very purpose of our life. Jesus will come again. We don’t know when. But whenever it is, we hope it's today. But if it's not today, we will wait again tomorrow. And we make sure that we are ready. That when the call comes, that we can be amongst those that will be taken. That's up to us. Let us make it easy for us to draw closer. Amen.
Thoughts from District Apostle John Kriel