On Sunday 02 January 2022, District Apostle John Kriel conducted the New Year divine service at Railton congregation. This divine service was conducted in English.
He was accompanied by Apostle P Lambert, Bishop J Cook, a small musical ensemble and the NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Infinity FM 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 the summary of the divine service along with the link of the Chief Apostle's message for the New Year:
Opening Hymn: Let us sing with joyful voices (EH: 45)
Bible word: ‘Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common.’ (Acts 2:44)
District Apostle Kriel:
My dear brothers and sisters, I certainly echo the words of the choir, ‘Lord, what a blessing to be Thy child’. And that is something that we never want to take for granted. And as we come to the first divine service of this year, we also in the closing divine service of 2021 reflected on where we were last year when our Chief Apostle gave us the word ‘Christ our future’. And we have tried to live ‘Christ our future’. The beginning of 2021 was the future. Now 2021 is in the past. But Christ our future is not limited to a year. It's limited to the future when He fulfils His promise that we can be with Him forever. And we've endeavoured that Christ is indeed and remains our future. And remember He is our future. He is the future of our neighbour. And we pray that as parents we are able to impart to our children that Christ is also the future of our children. Because when that is so, just the thought while the choir sang, ‘Lord, what a blessing to be Thy child’, then maybe we think of our own parents for a while. And we want to say a deep thankfulness within our hearts. Thank you that I have parents who believe. Thank you that I have parents who taught me that Christ indeed is our future. And not only taught me but showed me by their actions. Parents, that's our responsibility that we need to do that. That our children are able to say what a blessing to be your child. And where that is not so, let us make the difference, let us make the change so that they are able to say the same as we say of our Father what a blessing to be Your child. So, we will receive a new watchword today. But I just wanted to underline that we don't forget the old one. That Christ will remain our future. He is our past, our present and our future. He will remain. So let us ensure that that is so. For 2022, we have a new watchword which is given to us by our Chief Apostle. And we thought how better that he tells us himself. So, if we just pause for the moment, we have an insert in which our Chief Apostle will share with us his thoughts for 2022:
For those who were unable to view the video, please click here.
So dear brothers and sisters, it was good to hear from our Chief Apostle. And we could receive the summary of the divine service before the divine service with an explanation of together in Christ. And that is a very special word that we want to take with us and let it influence us. Remember, if we go back again, ‘Christ our future’, how Christ influences everything that is our life, our career path, our jobs, our daily life, our relationships. That Christ is the future that you make certain decisions. Now we are together in Christ. And that's nice. Being together is very special. Being together, if you're not there, you miss it. During the past week, I met somebody who says he works away from home for six months a year. And he says it's too painful. He cannot take it anymore. He wants to reduce the time away from his family, from his wife and from his children. And now we have the message that we want to be together. But not just together. Together in Christ. And that means that's the binding force, the binding power, the glue that keeps everything together. Because without the glue, everything falls apart. There are many people that are together, and they are united for a cause. And they are prepared to die for this cause. But when they've reached their goal, then this whole cause and this whole togetherness fall apart and they even turn on each other eventually. But now we're not just together in that aspect. We are together in Christ. That's the force. That's the power. That's the bonding power that keeps us together as a church, as a family, and great as a nation, as a country, that the teaching of Christ and Christ Himself, His very nature is the power and the force that keeps us together. We heard from the Chief Apostle who said that there is no change to our agenda for this year. There is no change to our plans. We wait for the Lord as we always waited for Him because He promised He will come to fetch us. And we believe that it will be soon. And we also heard that He is not coming to fetch individuals. He is not coming to fetch a bunch of loners. He is coming to fetch those who are aligned. Those who are united in Christ and form part of an assembly of believers who make Christ the centre point. That is who He is coming for. That's what He wants. Hence, our motto the Chief Apostle gives us: Together in Christ.
When we read about the first Christians that comes out of our Bible word today, when they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, when they were baptized and went through the rebirth, divine life was born within them. And with this divine life they wanted to be together. At every opportunity they had, they wanted to be together. Should it be different with us? We received and went through the rebirth. We too received divine love. And divine life and fellowship cannot be separated. It's all part and parcel of being together. And we want to be together because God showed us the benefit of being together. We serve a triune God. A God that is made up of three divine beings. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost in perfect harmony and in perfect fellowship. And this God that is so powerful, that's why we say, what a blessing it is to be Your child. He invites us human beings, you and I with our faults and failings, and say come be part of our fellowship. And that's what we are preparing for. That we can be part of that fellowship, part of that togetherness that we want to live that we can be with Him forever. There is so much that we look forward to and the divine life within us wants to be together with Him.
Now, there is no point in just saying I want to be together. You have to make a plan to be together. You can't say you are waiting for somebody to give me a lift. Buy a ticket, walk, run. But make an effort to be together. Don't be together just because of chance and just because it's convenient. Being together takes a sacrifice. And being together takes a sacrifice physically and mentally. We want to do something to enable us to be together. Now we have New Year’s resolutions. Don't just make a New Year's resolution. Make a plan of how you're going to get there. Don’t we all say we're going to lose weight this year? Okay, some of us and maybe most of us and we say okay, we're going to lose weight. But how are you going to do it? You can’t just say you are going to lose weight. Let's make a plan. We heard in one of our divine services that Jesus as true man worked on the relationship with His Father. And He made a plan. He studied the scriptures. He went into the temple and was taught by the leaders of the temple at the time. He was one with the Father. He prayed whenever He could. He listened to His Father. He worked on the relationship. It wasn't automatic. He worked. He did something. And when we say together in Christ, it needs to be worked upon. We have to do something like those early Christians as we heard, they wanted to be there. They wanted to be together. And so, we are invited to be together with the triune God. And allow the Spirit within us to guide us wherever it is possible. Because we don't want to be with God only in heaven. We want to be with Him here. Together in Christ, here. Eventually, we'll be together, but we want to be together here already. And we have to do something. The Chief Apostle says, together in Christ. In the early church, the early Christians went into the temple. And after they were at the temple, they went to a house to celebrate the Lord's Supper. Again, a perfect form of fellowship. A perfect form of togetherness. If you want to be together in Christ, come to His house. Come, be part of the congregation where we receive the word of God and of Jesus. We receive grace. We are forgiven. We receive the body and blood of Christ. And we have the opportunity to be together. He says where two or three gather in My name, where Jesus is in the centre, together in Christ, there I am in the midst of them. And where Jesus is present, good things happen. And we want to allow that also to take place in our life. That the good things happen because Jesus is present. That we receive together in Christ.
And it's nice to be together. It's good to see each other. Isn't it good to know that I am not alone? I am not alone. Sometimes when we cry, and we are sad, it's terrible to be alone. And to know that my brother feels my sorrow, it is nice. And it's already a form of comfort that he knows my sadness. He knows my pain. He knows my tears. And even when we are happy, isn't it great when we can share our joy that we are together on the same path? And if we are going on the same path, why not go together? It is so much more joyous, and it will give us the opportunity to complete. And so, we want to ensure that we are together in Christ, that we are in fellowship with a triune God, that we have fellowship in the divine services. And, to live together, to have fellowship together, we have to be together. With social media, we have experienced in the past that the platforms, the networks that are there served and was an advantage. Because we could have meetings. Wasn't it bad that we couldn't be together? You couldn't see your colleagues at work. And there were some new words that came into our dictionary. Words like ‘cabin fever’. That you were on your own all the time. You couldn't meet with anybody. You had to have your birthday alone. You even had to have your funeral alone. And that was a sad time. So, nothing can replace the physical personal encounters. Nothing can replace that. It's okay to send a letter. It's okay to be on Zoom and Microsoft Teams. But being together will always be special. So, we want to continue together in Christ. That's the watchword that we want to do.
If the social media platforms are abused, it can add to our loneliness and to our separation and to our isolation. Because what do we tend to do? Look, I'm no expert in this field. I'm not on Facebook. I don't know this, but I've heard about people who were sad because they were unfriended. Is that correct? And then I sometimes ask was it your friend in the first place? They say no, we've never met. Then I said okay, so what's the point? I mean, were you really together? But what do we do? Sometimes we isolate ourselves. And we like and we love people who share our feelings. They think like we think and then we isolate ourselves as a group because we are just all similar thinkers. We think the same because everybody else is not too happy if we don't agree with what they say. And so, we end up operating in the same WhatsApp group. And we become intolerant of the differences of others. We are not able to understand that we are not all the same. And we thank God for our differences. We are all different. Let us deal with each other's differences. And being together in Christ does not mean I must sacrifice my personality and who I am. No. Come bring your gifts. And together, we will be stronger. So, we want to ensure that we can still be who we are. But we have a common goal. We are going the same way. We have a common faith that the Lord is coming. And that's what we want to hold dear to us. The Lord indeed is coming, and we want to be with Him. We have the same battles. And if my brother and sister have the battle and we share it, they are willing to come to us and say come I've been through that. And then we form part of that blessed and wonderful fellowship.
Those who are together in Christ are sensitive and attentive to the needs of their neighbours. They know their neighbour is suffering. They know their neighbour is hungry. They know he is sad. And we can help. We can do something to alleviate that suffering. We can do it. If only we are sensitive to their needs. We can make that call. We can knock on that door and say I am thinking of you. So dear brothers and sisters, let's identify and see the needs that others have. In the past year, we saw many in need. And our charity, Masakhe, gave food parcels to many. When the call came, there's a hungry family, somebody went out and gave them a bread and a parcel to eat because the need became evident, and we were able to address that need, and we want to do so wherever we are. Because if we are together in Christ, we will be sensitive to the needs of others. And as the Chief Apostle says, we will give freely. And when you give freely, don't be too proud to receive graciously because some of us are a little bit too proud to receive. And so, we receive out of the hands of others. And then also those who are together in Christ are aware that I am not the only one on this earth. We are aware of the needs beyond my home, beyond my country, beyond my congregation and even beyond my generation. What world do we leave for the next generation? Let's not destroy everything. Someone else will need it. Let us not only look at the needs of our congregation. Already in the Apostle Paul’s time, he collected from the other congregations to give to Jerusalem so that the poor could live. Let's give freely because Christ is in us, and we are together in Christ.
I almost want to say that we are in it together. So, let's go with this togetherness and overcome the otherness so that I'm willing to accept you. You don't have to be like me for me to be in fellowship with you. Christ is the centre point. And if Christ remains the biggest in my life, then the otherness of my neighbour will not prevent me from having fellowship. But when I become bigger than the cause, that's a problem. Let Christ remain the biggest. He is the binding force. He's the one that keeps things together. Have you not seen sometimes in families how together the family is when mom and dad are alive? They are always together. They are around them. But when they pass away, then sometimes the families fall apart because the glue disappeared. That which kept us together is no longer there. So, there is a responsibility on the other family members to create and to ensure let's stay together. And when we use Christ as the glue, He is going nowhere. Yesterday, today, forever, He will always be there. So, when Christ is the purpose of us being together, then we will be together forever.
So, we are together in Christ. And we then do things together as a congregation, remember we are all different. We all have different gifts and different talents. If you look at the orchestra now, there is a cello, a violin and a viola. Different, but what a beautiful harmony. The choir sings different voices, but it is part of the harmony. In our congregation within our church, we have everything we need for worthiness, everything we need that we are able to survive upon this earth. Everything is not placed in one guy and in one girl. When we bring our gifts together, then we have everything we need. So, we want to go forward together in Christ. And if in the past for whatever reason you were no longer part of this togetherness, I say please come back. We need you. If you played in the orchestra and you didn't play for a long time, please come back. The choir member, please come back. Come be together in Christ. Whatever gifts and talents you are able to give, we need you. As brothers and sisters, we need you and we say please come back. Never mind the otherness. Never mind if we don't look like each other. Never mind if we don't speak the same language. Christ speaks all languages.
And we want to be together in Christ. What a beautiful word. A word that we wake up to every day. And if we want to be together in fellowship with my brother and sister, maybe I must be together in myself. I want to say let's get it together first inside. Because if I'm all over the show, it's difficult to be together. Because some guys are together with you then together with others, but you are also identified by the association that you keep. And I want to be associated with Christ. That's where I want to be. And that is with whom I want to be together. Isn't it nice when there is a strong guy around and they ask who are you, and sometimes we are just nothing and then you say no, I'm with him? And that gives you strength. That gives you courage. And that gives you some time some recognition and people will say no leave that guy, he is with him. I learnt that at school. I wasn't very strong, but I had strong friends. And if they asked who I am I said no, that's my friend. And then they kind of left me alone. And when the devil comes, tell him, I'm with Him. I'm with the Lord Jesus, the one who died for us, the one who loves us and the one who has gone to prepare a kingdom for us. And He certainly is with us. And so, we are together in Christ.
And then the Chief Apostle says finally, then we come to the togetherness of the dead. Often the one or other wants to say we mess around with the dead. But as far as Jesus is concerned, we are one congregation. Many mourn and many are sad. And I don't want to make it smaller. The pain is great. And we can say it is a year, it's two years, it's three years. The missing goes on. The wound is still there. And we remember them. But there is hope. There is a comfort because the fellowship with Christ, the fellowship with Jesus is stronger than death because the promise He made was not just to those who are in the flesh. He says He will come to fetch us and the dead in Christ will rise first. So, what He intends for the living He intends for the dead too. And they will go with when the Lord comes and are faithful like those who are alive. And He makes sure that the dead like the living come and hear the word of God. They attend the divine services. They receive the same spiritual food. Later we will experience that they also get the Holy Communion as you and I do, preparing for the fulfilment that the Lord indeed will come. And the great comfort and great confidence that He will come and fetch us and then we'll all be together. We'll all be together in and with Christ and His Father in His kingdom. We will be together, not in a virtual way. We'll be together not in spirit as we are today. We will be together, actually be together. Each one clothed with a resurrected body, a new body that can enter into that kingdom that He has gone to prepare for all of us.
I ask the question, are you also together? Let us say yes, for sure. Let us say count me in, I am together in Christ. That's worthwhile. Everything else is temporary. But together in Christ, that togetherness will be for time and all eternity. Not just with all of us who believe but all those who have gone before us that we can be together. So, in this new year of 2022, together in Christ will become for us a lifestyle, will become for us everything. Because remember, don't be upset and don’t let anybody be excluded because they are different. And don’t just see to your own needs. Somebody else also needs something. Didn't our mother teach us that when you eat something nice, don't finish it? Somebody else may also want. No matter how nice it is. So in life, we can measure ourselves a little bit of being together in Christ, especially over the festive season. I talk to the drivers now and ask have you ever went to a place and in the parking it is limited because everybody's out? And then you saw a car parked but the car is parked over the line. The person just parked, and you can't get the other car in there. A wasted parking space, and then I wonder, I must be honest I don't always have kind thoughts towards these guys. And then I must ask for forgiveness and say, Lord I don't know the circumstances maybe, but he's got a big car and he couldn't care if he takes two parking spaces and if the other guy has nothing that means nothing to him. We can't live our life like that. I'm okay, never mind anyone else. No. Remember together in Christ. We think of the other. Don’t just see my needs of today. The needs of others are important to me. That I don't just take for myself. But make sure you know like the little boy. When he got his communion, he didn't eat it and his dad said he still had it in his hand. He says why don't you take your communion you're supposed to eat it? He says, no, mommy is sick at home. She needs it too. Maybe a small example. When we are together in Christ, our congregations will be better, our communities will be better, and we will experience His joy in a very special and blessed manner. Amen.
Thoughts from District Apostle John Kriel
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