It was a joy to celebrate Easter together! We had a full weekend of celebrations, including a sunrise service! If you missed the Good Friday or Easter Sunday services you can catch up here.

This weekend we dive right into our second major teaching series for the year: God’s Household, where we will be journeying through the book of 1 Timothy.

It may not seem like it at first, but the book is a fantastic follow-on to Easter:

“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth”

1 Timothy 3:14-15

As with all our major teaching series, we will have additional resources to complement your journey through the book. Each week we will release daily devotions that will follow the passage preached on the weekend. You can find them here.

Some of our community groups will be following the series in their mid-week groups. If you would like to join a group contact Pastor Zwai.


The Scratchpad Podcast.

We are also excited to announce a new podcast that will launch with this series, called ‘The Scratchpad’. This will be a talk-show type of discussion on the Sunday message, which will include additional material and insights on the passage. It will also include an opportunity for you to ask questions related to the Sunday message! Each week you can submit your questions here.

There will also be additional teaching platforms in the series, particularly when we get to the tricky bits. These long-format discussions will also include opportunity for questions.


Sunday Services

As is now customary, we have both in-person and online worship services. We are very grateful for the increased capacity (250 people) at religious services at this time, which means more opportunity for you to reconnect with the ‘church of the living God’! If you haven’t yet come back to Church, now would be a great time!

Our services will remain at: 8:00am | 10:15am | 5:00pmPlease remember to book!


The emphasis of this book is on godly living in the social microcosms of our lives, fuelled by life in the Church, which is the ‘the household of God’.

We hope you will come to deeply know

“… he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen”

(1 Timothy 6:15-16)

With you in God’s Household,

Richard

Sunday 7 March

Hey Rosebank Union family!

We are up and running for the year, and excited about our plans as a Church over the next few months, despite being restricted in terms of gatherings.

As you will know the adjusted level 3 lockdown rules do not allow any religious gatherings until at least the middle of February, which means we are back to Churchonline for all our gatherings.

We will be continuing with our monthly prayer meetings as well as the First Mondays webinars, as well as some new opportunities for connecting online.

We encourage you to not miss the new-year opportunity to commit to connecting with the RUC community:

  • Every Sunday: Churchonline @ golive.ruc.org.za. Be of the simplest and best ways to feel a little more connected to Church is to join us for the livestream at 9:30 on a Sunday where you can engage through comments, chats and request prayer.
  • Community Groups meet on various days of the week, most of them still meeting on virtual platforms in lockdown. Contact our Discipleship pastor, Zwai Zulu, for a suitable group for you.
  • Wednesday 27 January: Monthly prayer meeting. Be sure to kick your year off in prayer by joining us for the day of prayer and fasting (Fasting information here), culminating in our Zoom prayer meeting at 19:00 (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81474261790)
  • Monday 1 Feb: First Mondays Webinar. We kick off our webinar series with a topic directly linked to our first sermon series. Also on golive.ruc.org.za at 19:00.

Speaking of sermons, we are very excited about our first sermon series for the year. 

It’s called Rule of Life: Habits to fortify and form your faith

Christians have been practising the concept of a ‘Rule of Life’ for centuries as a means of integrating spiritual disciplines (such as prayer, scripture) into daily rhythms of life.

What makes this concept relevant for us now is the fact that a Rule of Life is entirely contextual. The rhythms and habits that we develop are targeted specifically for the particular times we live in.

I think we all realise that these are unique times, with unique pressures and unique temptations. If we are serious about our spiritual growth then we need to be intentional about fortifying & forming our faith, through specially designed rhythms and habits.

Starting Sunday 24 January we will take six weeks to discuss six areas of life that are under unique pressure in 2021, and apply six spiritual habits that will fortify and form our faith no matter what happens this year! We don’t just want to survive 2021 but thrive!


I am looking forward to journeying through another year of ‘blessed uncertainty’ (as I am learning to call it!) with you, as we grow in:

  • Trusting God’s will of decree.
  • Embracing His will of desire.
  • Obeying into His will of direction.

Hoping to see you all soon (DV)

Richard

Dear RUC member,

This week the leadership of the Church have made the immensely difficult decision to cease the operation of our Hospitality Company, which will unfortunately result in the retrenchment of the hospitality staff.

This company has been at the heart of our events management and catering operation, hosting events for Church ministry, community organisations as well as external corporate events.

An operation of this scale has necessarily required its own contingent of staff, of which we currently have six full-time staff and two part-time staff. This contingent of staff manage events and catering on a spectrum from small church functions, the Street Cafe, right through to large corporate events.

Whilst our Church has been proud to offer a quality service across this spectrum, it has come at a cost.

In 2019 RUC subsidised the work of the Hospitality Company to the value of R124 000. Indeed the history of this operation indicates that the scale of activities is insufficient to cover the personnel and other costs. While external corporate event bookings do go a long way to covering costs, these external bookings will always be limited, due to the priority of competing internal ministry needs.

The cost is not only financial: the complexity of this kind of operation has made it very challenging for our staff. An inordinate amount of time has been spent with staff, Deacons and Church Council in trying to adequately manage this service.

We commend our hospitality staff for their perseverance and hard work in sustaining this operation despite its various challenges. Our decision to close the operation has no bearing on the work ethic of our staff. Our hospitality staff, from top to bottom, work long hours, seven days a week.

Ultimately though, the model is unsustainable, both from an economic and operational point of view.


This has been brought into blunt focus this year, due to the Coronavirus. As you are all aware there have not been any gatherings, whether religious or corporate, since March. As a result, the Hospitality Company has suffered a loss of over R600 000 to date.

There is little optimism that this will change for the remainder of 2020, which means that RUC could end up funding a loss of over R1 million by the end of the year.

At our Townhall Meeting on 1 July this year I spoke about the ‘Clarifying & Catalysing’ effect of the Coronavirus. It has become apparent that indeed this season has clarified for us as a Church leadership that we have to cease this operation and focus on our core ministries.


Whilst the mechanics of this decision are clear to us, the burden of the decision rests heavily on us as the beloved staff have served us so well over the years.

We are all so grateful to Yvette and her professional team for serving us so excellently, and representing a true spirit of hospitality to our Church and all the clients of the Hospitality Company.

The staff will of course be receiving appropriate remuneration as part of the separation package, but we would like to open a channel for you to donate towards an additional gift for this group. Should you wish to contribute towards a farewell gift you can make an EFT into our bank account with the reference ‘Hospitality’ (or by using the online donation form below)

I urge you all to be in prayer for these staff members. As a Church we are seeking to help find alternative employment for them, so please pray for these opportunities to open. If you have employment opportunities for them please contact us.

Regards

Richard van Lieshout


Donation to the Hospitality Staff

This Wednesday (29 July 2020), we are having our first monthly day of prayer and fasting, culminating in the combined online prayer meeting at 7:00pm on Zoom.

In this short video Pastor Richard explains what fasting is and how and why it is important for us to pray and fast.

See you on Zoom from 7-8pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81474261790
Meeting ID: 814 7426 1790

Dear Rosebank Union Church,

Next week Sunday we will be starting a new Teaching Series called ‘Coming Back Stronger’. It’s a series through the Old Testament book of Ezra, which we believe has particular relevance to our lives in these strange times.

This little-studied book of the Bible tells the story of the return from exile of the people of God, and how they sought to re-establish themselves in the land of Israel.

After seventy years of isolation God sovereignly orchestrated human events to allow the people to return, but even then the process was painfully slow- it took decades for the story to play out!

When I first heard this story it resonated so much with what I was experiencing during lockdown. Initially lockdown seemed like a temporary disruption, but it quickly became evident that this season of ‘exile’ would be a long one.

The good news is that eventually we too will return ‘home’, to a rhythm of life a lot more like the ‘normal’ we were used to. This Coronavirus season will end. But even then, the return journey may be painfully slow.

The significance of the story of Ezra is that whilst the period of isolation was long, and the return journey slow, God sovereignly used that time to shape the people in such a way that they would come back stronger. The book details people being shaped in resilience, purity, devotion to God’s word, worship and community.

It is our hope that as we journey through Ezra we will be shaped in the same way, ready to come back stronger, in our personal lives, families, community and as a Church.

When will we be meeting again?

Speaking of coming back as a Church, we have deliberately been taking our time to process the ruling allowing for religious gatherings of up to 50 people during Lockdown level three.

Whilst I was initially excited at the opportunity to be in gathered worship again, I quickly realised that our responsibility towards the health of our members, as well as our responsibility to the wider community, meant that we should wait and discern before making any attempt to return.

In some ways the decision to wait is made easier for a Church the size of RUC simply because there is no logistical way that we could fairly accommodate the approx 1000 people who attend a Sunday service.

Circumstances change so quickly these days that we feel it appropriate on a number of levels, to wait, and we ask for your patience and understanding in this.

Church Online Platform

This concession to religious communities also came at the same time as the launch of our new online Church platform (what we call ChurchAtHome 3.0), which we hoped would take us as far as we could go in terms of providing an opportunity for engagement with our Sunday services.

I have spoken much about the ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ interactions that we experience during gathered worship on a Sunday. At the beginning of lockdown the priority was to bring the ‘macro’ interactions online, such as worship, prayer and preaching.

Our priority in this latest iteration of ChurchAtHome is around engagement with the ‘micro’ interactions that take place during gathered worship, the weighty accumulation of all the little engagements you would experience on a Sunday.

The friendly hello from a parking volunteer, the nod of acknowledgement from a passer-by on their way into Church, the warm greeting at the door, the casual conversation in the pews waiting for the service to begin, the catch-up with friends over coffee after the service, the reassuring words of comfort or prayer before departing.

There’s no way we can replicate all of that online, but our new platform at least goes some way towards experiencing these interactions.

If you haven’t tried gathering around our live online services at 9:30 on a Sunday (8:30 for Kids Church) please give it a try, just log on here: golive.ruc.org.za.

What else is happening?

There are a few other ways that we are hoping to continue building our Church community during lockdown:

  • Prayer meetings: It has been so encouraging to me to see how the gathering for prayer has also become the primary fellowship platform for our Church. The best part for sure is the breakout room time, where people get to meet others, connect and pray.
  • ‘First Mondays’: a monthly webinar series dealing with practical topics related to life in this Coronavirus season. We kicked it off on 1 June with Dr Nat Schluter, who helped us think theologically and pastorally about the Coronavirus. If you haven’t yet watched it go visit our YouTube channel for the replay, it is well worth your time (and share it with others!). Next up in the series we have Jane Kratz, chair of Biblical Counselling Africa, who will speak on the topic of fear and anxiety in this season.
  • Fathom’ course: an online learning opportunity around the wider subject of the Gospel, on our brand new online learning portal. Click here for an overview of the course. It’s a four week course that you can do in your own time!

—-

One of the most moving moments in the book of Ezra occurs in chapter 3 (spoiler alert!):

All the people gave a loud shout as they praised the Lord when the temple of the Lord was established. Many of the priests, the Levites, and the leaders  – older people who had seen with their own eyes the former temple while it was still established – were weeping loudly, and many others raised their voice in a joyous shout. People were unable to tell the difference between he sound of joyous shouting and the sound of the people?s weeping, for the people were shouting so loudly that the sound was heard a long way off”

Ezra 3:12-13

I find that to be such a poignant picture of life at this time: a peculiar mixture of godly grief with faith-fueled hope. Most of the time they are so intermingled we can’t tell the difference between the two!

It certainly is creating the perfect conditions of heart, allowing us to be shaped by God so that we will come back stronger.

Waiting expectantly with you,

Richard