On Sunday 17 July 2022, Priest Lester Peters conducted the central AVT divine service at Kabega Park Congregation. The divine service was conducted in English.
The Priest was accompanied by a Shepherd Peter La Bercensie, a music ensemble and the NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263. For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: Glorious, glorious is the Work of God (EH:280)
Bible word: ‘Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”’ (Genesis 4:9)
My dear brothers and sisters welcome to all here and to those who are connected. We wish everybody a most blessed divine service. I listened to the choir singing this beautiful anthem. And one thing that struck me, if I can just read that, it says anxiety and fear depart. And please let it be that this morning. I know we're all anxious. God says My child, I am here. Leave your anxiousness. Leave your fears. I am here. And I am here to look after you. So be at ease and let our full concentration be on the word this morning and let us be connected to the living altar.
And this morning we have a very well-known Bible word. Cain and Abel made a sacrifice to God. And it says Cain brought the fruit. Abel brought of his first flock. In other words, he brought of his best to God. And God was not very happy with Cain. The Bible says, God did not respect what Cain brought to Him. And it could have been because of his heart’s attitude that Cain brought. Cain was the firstborn. In those years, when you were the firstborn, you got everything. Those that were born after you, had to stand in line and wait. When God respected Abel’s sacrifice, it went against this tradition. And Cain was very upset. How can this be? I am the firstborn. It's almost like entitlement. I must get that praise. I must get that respect. And instead of asking God please help me, what did I do wrong? What did he do? He called his brother aside and he sorted his brother out. He killed his brother because of jealousy. God came and asked him, My child, Cain, where is your brother? And God did not ask him because He did not know where Abel was. He knew exactly what happened. And Cain’s answer to God, and that is our Bible word as well, how must I know where he is? Am I supposed to babysit my brother? He's old enough. He can look after himself.
Don’t we experience that same attitude today? We are so focused on ourselves. So focused on where we want to be that we lose sight of those around us. We lose sight of our neighbour because I feel that I am entitled to that, and I want to get that. What is the saying? Everybody for himself and God for all. That is entitlement. And the only time we do notice somebody is when they have what we want and then we go after it because that is where I want to be. That is what I deserve in my life. This is what I worked for. And then we see this trail of destruction behind what we've left because of what we feel entitled to. This is my attitude towards my neighbour. And this morning, God wants to stop us there and then also ask us the questions. Last week, the question was where are you? Where are you in your relationship with God? And this morning, the question for this divine service is where is your brother? In actual fact, three questions are being asked. First of all, where is your brother? Where is your sister? How are your brother and sister? And the third one is do they need your help? And this morning, we want to answer that question. We want to say yes Father, I know where my brother is, where my sister is. I know how they are feeling. And I also want to be there for them. And this is our message for the divine service. We know this Father because we love our fellow human being and we want to be there for them. That is our message for this morning. We love our fellow human beings. We love our brother and we love our sister. And because we love them, we want to be there for them.
And this was the attitude of Jesus. He was very clear about that. To Him, love was the driving force in everything that He did. And He says, My child, whatever you do, do it out of love. He told His disciples; do you know how people will know that you belong to Me? They will know because of your love towards your fellow human being, how you treat that person. The love that we speak about is not this fuzzy feeling that you get. I need to look at the young people now. You know that you get that when that guy or woman walks past you, you get this fuzzy feeling. You know when they stop by you, and you open your mouth and are unable to speak. We are not talking about that kind of love. When we read about love in First Corinthians 13:4, it says there, love is being patient towards one another. Love is being kind towards one another. Love is not being jealous of the other person. You are not proud. You are very humble when you have love. And love is not selfish. Love shares in everything. Love does not give up. Love is not rude. It's being gentle towards others. And that was the driving force that Jesus was speaking about. Not this fuzzy feeling. And that is why He could say I give you this great commandment, this beautiful commandment. Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul. With everything that you have. That is the greatest and the first commandment. And He said which is the second commandment, love your neighbour as yourself. And He said that the commandment is equally important as the first one. Why? Because the relationship that I have with my brother, and the relationship that I have with my sister reflects the relationship that I have with God. Because God said My child, if you are part of Me, I can see it in your relationship with your brother and with your sister. And when we take our message for this morning, we love one another. We love our fellow human beings. It is born out of this love that Jesus has for us.
We look at the Good Samaritan. The Priest and the Levite passed that person lying along the road. They were probably driven by tradition. Tradition then was if I touch somebody and that person was dead, my hands are unclean, and then I cannot serve God. The Good Samaritan came, and he was driven by the law of love. How can I allow my brother, how can I allow my sister to be there in the dumps and I am in a position to help them? Again, driven out of love because we love our fellow human being. We love our brother and our sister. We want to look after their well-being. We want to show them this love that Jesus has for us and we portray it to them so that they can also feel a purpose of I belong too. There is someone that cares for me as well. And this is our responsibility as God’s children.
Wasn't it also when Saul was on the road to Damascus, God asked him why are you killing My children? He was very convinced in what he was doing. He was convinced it was the right thing. And God asked him why are you hurting My people? Why are you killing them? It's My people. And what you do to them you are doing to Me. What we do to our fellow brother and sister, we do to God. Let us think about this word. In this past week, in this past month, what was my attitude towards my brother, towards my sister, towards my colleague at work, towards those that I encountered in the street, to those that come and knock on my door? What was my attitude towards them? What was my answer to them? Did I turn a blind eye? Did I say that is not my business? Did I say am I my brother's keeper? Am I supposed to look after them? God says My child, whatever you do in life, let it be driven by love. Love being kindness. Love being patient. Love being humble, not selfish. Have an open heart. Have open arms for your brother and for your sister.
That is our message for this divine service this morning. And to recap, our Bible word where Cain brought an offering. Abel brought an offering. Abel’s heart’s attitude was right. Cain’s was not. And because of that, He was jealous of his brother and murdered him, and then God came and asked him as it says in our Bible word: Cain, where is Abel, your brother? And the answer that Cain gave God is how must I know? Am I supposed to look after him? He is old enough to look after himself. And this attitude that we have towards our neighbour, let us look at that. That we don't have the same attitude. Must I look after my neighbour? Because God says yes, My child, you must look after your neighbour. Because whatever you do, must be driven by love. The love that My Son came and taught you. And why do you do this? Because Father, we love our fellow human beings. And we want to be there for them. Amen.
Thoughts from Priest Lester Peters