First Day Back Debacle

What a joke!

Having spent most of last week preparing Joel to return to school today, we were told to expect an announcement from the Education Minister on Friday evening. This then got pushed back to Sunday evening and then pushed back again until 11am today.

We then learn via a local news website that schools are only reopening for pupils on the 8th whilst teachers are back from today. So quite why two teacher friends were called back to work last week is a mystery.  Meanwhile the Teachers Unions are furious because they believe the timetable for reopening schools is wholly unrealistic.
On Tuesday President Ramaphosa addressed the nation and gave churches and other faith groups the right to start meeting again in their buildings, though with strict conditions.

At the same time, he called for a National Day Of Prayer for today, Sunday 31 May.

The Gathering has made the tough but right decision to remain in exile for a while longer, but as we Gather this morning on WhatsApp we are proud to be standing with the President & the nation and answer his call to prayer for South Africa.

Today our Gathering will be entirely given over to prayer for this nation and the situation we find ourselves in.
During lockdown I've written four posts so far about books, which would suggest books are quite important in our house. Three of those posts were on the theme of 10 Books I Have Loved and the other post was about Lockdown Reading, looking at the books I have read in the first few weeks of lockdown. I will post Part 2 of that soon.

Books I Have Loved Part 1 was about fiction books I have really enjoyed, Part 2 was about non-fiction books I have enjoyed and Part 3 was about Christian books which I have also enjoyed.
It was very exciting to get the news from President Ramaphosa that the faithful may gather under strict guidelines. It was exciting to think about The Gathering getting together again from June 7th, but as pastors we also have a duty of care of our church members and we need to be leading by example in how we navigate our way out of the current crisis.

For The Gathering it feels right that we remain in exile for just a little longer.
We might not be the biggest feeding scheme around, but we are consistent and dependable and it's great to know that in an uncertain world & uncertain times, our regulars know where to find us confident that we'll be there ready to serve them.

That in itself is a tremendous blessing.

I've not sat down and added up how many food parcels, food vouchers and meals we've managed to serve so far in this crisis, but each one feels like an immense privilege to have been able to give and a huge blessing to The Gathering  as we seek to practically demonstrate the love of God in such dark times.

Well we didn't see that one coming but I for one went to bed a very happy man last night!

Who'd have thunk it... the government giving in to lobbying and reversing a decision.  Then again, it would have been a tad #awkward asking the various religious groups in the country to stand together for a day of prayer without allowing them to start to gather in their buildings again.

I don't know what your church experience has been under lockdown, I hope it's been a blessing to you. The Gathering has thrived under lockdown with amazing attendances at our WhatsApp Gatherings, both on Sunday mornings and our Wed evening prayer meetings. Church has become even more interactive than it already was and virtually all who attended contributed. WhatsApp church has been a huge blessing in a difficult time!

True Joy

It's true!

For me at least, for I am at my happiest and most joyous when I'm serving at our Soup Kitchen or involved in blessing folk in some other way through The Gathering.

I love what James said in his letter: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world"
Last night President Ramaphosa addressed the nation and unlike the last time he did so, he actually had things to say, and was worth listening to.

The big announcement was that the whole nation will move to Level 3 which means most economic activity can resume (though not restaurants, hair & Beauty salons, gyms or churches). We have to wait a few days for the govt to gazette the actual details of what we can and cannot do, but I'm excited.
Gathering on WhatsApp on Sundays & Wednesdays is a huge blessing in the life of The Gathering as we seek to stay connected and interactive in our faith together.

It was pure joy to share Communion together this morning as part of our worship of King Jesus and those that were able took a selfie and shared it online.

It feels like The gathering is stronger for the lockdown which is a huge blessing and encouragement.

We all long to worship together in our regular venue praising the one who saved us, but until then we'll praise Him anyway!

Live Again


I want to post about all the wonderful blessings we're experiencing right now, and share about how life is great, but I can't do what I see some do and just pretend the sun is shining and life is great. In fact I have to be honest and say that I'm struggling to remain positive at present. I'm having to force myself to stay away from the news because it's worse than depressing and it makes my blood boil.