On Sunday 18 September 2022, District Elder Baron Gaskin conducted the central AVT divine service at Silvertown congregation. This divine service was conducted in English.
The District Elder was accompanied by Shepherd Sandile Kasana, 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: Our God is loving (EH:390)
Bible word: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
District Elder Gaskin:
My dear brothers and sisters, it is good for us to be in God's house. It's good for us to be in close proximity with our God and Father. Even those who are connected with us, yes, maybe physically not here. But definitely connected in spirit. And even there where you find yourself that there may be no disturbances or distractions. But that you may be intensely connected here with God's altar this morning. Because that connection is so vital. Even for us here, that our hearts are open. Our hearts are in tune, our hearts are receptive to receive that which our God and Father wants to place upon our souls. And that's why we are here. We have come here, opened our hearts and we have expressed, Lord, today, tell us what we need to do so that we can strengthen our relationship with You, so that we can become like your Son Jesus.
And so He gives us a Bible word. Just for a brief moment, let us reflect on this past month’s Sunday morning divine services and the message and theme for this month of September, is Christian life. That is the theme for all the Sunday divine services for this month: Christian life. That Christian life is not something theoretical. But Christian life is that which we practise every day. To be a Christian, it is easy to talk about. Let us not just talk about being a New Apostolic Christian but let us show it. Actions speak louder than words. And so, the focus for this month is this Christian life. The first Sunday focused on the message that God cares for the afflicted and the doubtful. God cares for those who go through negative experiences in life and maybe even feel they want to distance themselves from Him because things haven't been going so well in their life. And in that divine service, the Lord said, yes, I know what you go through. I'm there for you. Just remain connected to Me. Trust Him. The second divine service - our message for that divine service was obedience to the will of God is blessed. And in the process, meaning let us constantly strive to seek out what is God's will and then let us practise God's will in our life. Let us live it. Being a true Christian, therein we can become a source of blessing to others, and the Lord can bless us. Our message for today’s divine service: let us show others that God loves them. That is practising love.
Our Bible word is taken from the Gospel of John chapter 13. And John chapter 13 commences with Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. And after He had washed the feet of His disciples, it progressed and moved on to a situation that arose with Judas. And eventually, Judas left them to go do what he needed to do. And after that had transpired, Jesus then spoke to His disciples. And He got them together and said to them that He was not going to be with them much longer. I must leave you. And where I am going, you cannot come with Me, but I want you to love one another. And that is His instruction to them to love one another. And it doesn't just say, love one another as it is expressed in our Bible word. He goes beyond that and tells them how they must do it. He says, as I have loved you. That's how you must love one another. And so He gives Himself as an example. And may that require a special focus from our side as from their side as the disciples. The love that Jesus speaks of here is not the love that we experience as human beings that's driven by feeling and emotion. We know how it is when the one or the other starts courting or developing a relationship with someone and you see that person, and all of a sudden, what happens? Maybe in reality it’s not the same, but one becomes weak at the knees. It's driven by feeling, by emotion, human love. The love that Jesus speaks of here is not human love. It's divine love. That which has its source in God. For God is love. This we know. And the love that God shows is for all mankind. For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son. That love was not based upon conditions. It was a pure love for all of mankind. And this love then became represented in Jesus Christ. And so, Jesus then brought His gospel. And through it told us as mankind, this is God's love, this is God's will for you and me. And then further than that, God did something else that's so beautiful and special. This divine love was given to you and me. The gift of the Holy Spirit lives within us, this divine love. And now Jesus says love one another but love the way I love you.
Now the question might arise in our heart, yes, Lord, I possess this divine love. It is this divine love that I must reveal and show to others. And that is the message for today, let us show others that God loves them. That means I must practise it. I must be that instrument of blessing in God's hands, that tool to show others God's love, to show others this divine love. How do we go about doing it? Jesus is our example. Jesus will always remain our example. Firstly, Jesus accepts us as we are, all of us. He accepts us as we are and expects us to practise this love because remember, this instruction Jesus gave to His disciples, to His own. And so, this instruction also filters to you and me, that we show this love in the congregation. That's where we show it. Charity begins at home. And this divine love as Jesus shows it in that He accepts us as we are, we are to accept others as they are. Sometimes it's difficult because of the fact that we have our likes and dislikes. We have been brought up in different areas and ways by our parents. We have been exposed to different societal norms and standards. And therefore, somebody who maybe has a tattoo could be seen as evil. No, we cannot accept that one. No. Jesus accepts us as we are. Let us also accept others as they are with all their faults, failings, shortcomings and weaknesses. With all their funny ways. Who's to say our ways are not funny? Yet God accepts us. That is divine love. It doesn't apply any specific standard of measurement. It is pure. It is holy. It is godly. And it is that what we want to show towards one another. That's firstly, how we can love one another.
Secondly, Jesus shared in the joy and the suffering of His own. He felt with the people. One just thinks of the widow of Nain. Here when Jesus was travelling, as they came into the city, there was a funeral procession. And this woman who had lost her only son wept bitterly. Jesus saw her pain. He felt her suffering. And what did He do? He reached out to her. He shared in that. One thinks of Lazarus. And when He got the news of Lazarus’ death, He felt that. He shared in the suffering. So too you and I, we need to share in the joys and in the sufferings of others. And sometimes it can also be difficult because of the simple fact there is jealousy, envy; those spirits that are evil that sometimes infiltrate our heart. When we see someone experiencing success, and they are filled with joy because of a new promotion, or because they change their single-story home into a double-story home. All of a sudden, they've got four cars parked in the driveway instead of two. What do we do? Do we share in their joy or are other feelings and emotions awoken in our hearts? That's not divine love. Let us share in their joy. Let us be happy with those who are successful. Paul expressed, I rejoice with those who rejoice, and I weep with those who weep. We want to feel with one another. We want to be empathetic with one another. This is what must define our actions and interactions with one another. That is what the Lord expects of us. So firstly, Jesus accepts us as we are. Secondly, He shares in the joys and the sorrows of His own.
Thirdly, Jesus offers practical help when it is needed. One thinks of the wedding feast in Cana when Jesus’ mother came to Him and said they ran out of wine and the feast was not yet finished. Jesus didn't turn around and say, well that's their problem. It was bad planning on their side. No. He saw the need and offered practical help. He turned the water into wine. He provided that. The feeding of the multitude. When the disciples came to Him and said the people have gotten to that point where they are hungry now, let us send them home. Or they could have said, they knew they were going to come and listen to You. They should have packed in additional food. It was bad planning on their side. No. He reached out and offered practical help. So too for you and me. We look at one another here in the congregation, those close, near and dear to us who go through difficult times. Words and prayers are not enough. We need to act. To be a Christian is to act. To show love is to act. It is a verb. It is a doing word. And to do that, it means yes, I need to get out of my comfort zone because we like to protect ourselves by living in a bubble. And when there is a need and the one or the other maybe needs financial assistance because maybe the one or the other has lost their job. We don't want to provide words and a lecture and say they should have planned better. They should have had an emergency fund set aside. No. Jesus didn't do that. Here I can help you. Here I can be of assistance. Here I can offer practical help with no conditions attached. No strings attached. When the one or other needs assistance maybe in terms of help with their children, maybe practical help in terms of needing a lift to the day hospital. Let me be able to get out of my comfort zone because sometimes we can be very selfish as human beings. And the Lord has blessed us and put us in a position where we are able to help. But we don't want to help and get involved. The Levite and the Priests didn't want to get involved when the Good Samaritan saw a need of the one who lay injured on the side of the road. Let us help. God has given us the means to do so. And then we want to turn around and say, no I'm sorry man. Normally we go out for dinner seven times a week, and if I'm going to help you, I will only be able to go out six times. Really? The other one doesn’t even have bread on their table. In the book of Ephesians, Apostle Paul expresses, become renewed in the spirit of your mind. Let us look at things differently, from a Godly perspective, from a Christian perspective, from a gospel perspective.
And then also, Jesus was the example in that He accepted us the way we are. He shared in our joys and sorrows. He offered practical help and assistance. Then also, He always sought the fellowship of His disciples. He wanted to be close to them. He wanted to eat with them. He wanted to pray with them. He wanted to praise with them. He enjoyed that fellowship. And that fellowship was evidence of His love for them. And so too you and I, we want to share in the fellowship of one another, to be together; the togetherness. The first Christians remained steadfast in the breaking of bread, in the Apostles’ doctrine, in prayer and in fellowship, to be with one another. How beautiful is it not when we come into the company of one another? Brothers and sisters in faith, that we can share joys with one another. That's an act of love. That we can pray together. That we can celebrate Holy Communion together. A beautiful act of love from our side. Sometimes it can also be so that when we go to the shopping centre and we see someone we know walking down aisle 5, and as we see them, what do we do? We turn and we go down aisle six. Why? Don't we want to have fellowship with one another. We need to get rid of that which creates distance. And in the process, it means I need to change the way I feel and the way I think. More of Thee and less of me.
And then lastly, the divine love was evident in Jesus Christ in that He forgave. He even forgave those who persecuted Him. He reached out to them, those who had done an injustice to Him, those who had hurt Him. He reached out to them. And He forgave them. May we also forgive. May we also forgive those who reach out. Sometimes it is so that maybe one or the other who has hurt us, caused us harm or disappointed us. And we will sit wherever we find ourselves and say, no they must come and apologize to me. No. Jesus reached out. May we do the same? Because we want to be worthy to enter God's kingdom. We want to become like Jesus. So let that ability and wonderful gift of being able to forgive, be what we constantly cultivate within our lives and in our relationship with one another, that here as a congregation, divine love can be experienced in that we accept everyone as they are. In that, we share the joy and the suffering of one another. In that, we offer practical help and assistance where it is needed. In that, we look forward to enjoying the fellowship with one another and of one another. In that, we are prepared to forgive and to be with one another and to help one another. May that be what defines us as Christians. Then we are practising the gospel. The gospel of Jesus is a gospel of divine love. And that we want to put into practice every day. And the Lord gives us opportunities every day to practise it in our life. May we embrace those opportunities. And then finally, our last thought, the greatest commandment of all, love God above all and your neighbour as yourself. By us displaying and cultivating this divine love within us changing, that when we interact with our fellow man that they can know the love of God because it flows from within us, and it touches their lives. God loves us all. God shows this love towards us every day of our lives. May we in turn show it to others and may that be what defines us always in our life. Amen.
Thoughts from District Elder Baron Gaskin
Please note that the sending of divine service transcripts will conclude with the divine service on 25 September 2022. As of Thanksgiving Day, a brief overview, together with the YouTube link of the central AVT divine services, will be shared on the home page of the NAC-SA website.