The Dean & Vicar General of Natal, Ndabezinhle Sibisi
remain positive, hopeful and to pray regularly for all dimensions of our community 
 
stay at home and observe social distance and do your part in keeping our nation safe

I wish to start by extending my warmest thanks to all who have been encouraging, helpful, informative and generally loving to me and my family during this difficult time. My joint task as Dean and Vicar-General was intimidating in itself, but it has certainly been intensified and dramatized by world events and your prayers, sermon, reflections and communication have encouraged and enabled us to keep our rootedness in God, the source of all grace, hope, love and certainty that good health will prevail.  
 
I would like to encourage you all to remain positive and hopeful and to pray regularly for all dimensions of our community. While we hope for good health ourselves, we cannot forget those less privileged than ourselves: the poor, the marginalized, and the homeless. May our Lord constantly point out ways that we can help those in greater distress than ourselves. There is very little that most of us can do about the worldwide agenda, but every small act of kindness, donations of food, and help for those in financial distress, providing basic necessities, and many other practical ministries, enable us to add our small unit of love to God's big cauldron of loving care that God has for humanity right now. God never wills these big catastrophes to happen - they happen! But we can be comforted by the fact that God suffers along with us in all things and calls us all to be co-workers with the Spirit in restoring health and well-being to all peoples. So please obey our President, stay at home and observe social distance and do your part in keeping our nation safe.

I would like to encourage you all to remain positive and hopeful and to pray regularly for all dimensions of our community. While we hope for good health ourselves, we cannot forget those less privileged than ourselves: the poor, the marginalized, and the homeless. May our Lord constantly point out ways that we can help those in greater distress than ourselves. There is very little that most of us can do about the worldwide agenda, but every small act of kindness, donations of food, and help for those in financial distress, providing basic necessities, and many other practical ministries, enable us to add our small unit of love to God's big cauldron of loving care that God has for humanity right now. God never wills these big catastrophes to happen - they happen! But we can be comforted by the fact that God suffers along with us in all things and calls us all to be co-workers with the Spirit in restoring health and well-being to all peoples. So please obey our President, stay at home and observe social distance and do your part in keeping our nation safe. 
 
I am saddened that Diocesan functions have been deferred, especially the Elective Assembly and the Diocesan Dialogue Conference, we await the Archbishops confirmation of our Diocesan Ordination in June. But you may remember the words of Gregory of Nyssa, the great Cappadocian Father of the 4th century who lived through difficult times. He was a theologian and thinker of great originality and said: "All holy desires, and if theyr are diminished by delays they were not holy in the first place." I pray that all of those involved in the current postponements are using this waiting time to pray, read and think and to grow in spiritual stature, a process that might have been inhabited without this pause to ponder. 
 
The role of the church at all times is to be neighbourly. Difficult circumstances offer an ernomous opportunity for the church to be this and much more. We are called, at present, to BE the church in many new ways. Distanced from our pews and buildings, how do we retain our community awareness, our liturgy, our outreach, our learning? May I encourage you to increase your daily prayer time, regularly to read both the scripture readings and other spiritual books, and to get together with your families to talk about the awe and wonder of being members of God's wider family. Make a 'spiritual communion' at least once a week (or preferably daily) using the prayers on page 516 of the APB. Use this time to study the APB in detail and learn from its rubics. Enjoy a growing awareness that life in the Spirit is something to be lived (not just listened to in sermons) with the heartbeat of Christ deep within us and far more powerful and unifying than building. I pray that we will bond together in deep prayerfulness and love during this time. And please, do not forget your financial pledges. The church still has commitments, like salaries and equipment, and its many outreach programmes that are dependent on the generosity of your givers. 
 
Be encouraged by the the knowledge that we are strong, since we do not have to go through it alone. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26ff: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 
 
Yours in Christ 
 
Ndabezinhle Sibisi 
The Dean/Vicar General 
Diocese of Natal 
17 April 2020