Sunday, 30 March 2008

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba - Installation at St George's Cathedral on 30th March 2008

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba - Installation at St George's Cathedral on 30th March 2008

Installation and Rededication Service of Thabo, Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

30 March 2008

Sekgo sa Metse

John 20:19-31

Let us pray: Loving Lord, you have made of one blood all the peoples of
the earth and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far
off and those who are near: grant that people everywhere may seek after
you and find you, bring the nations into your fold, pour out your Spirit
upon all flesh and hasten the coming of your kingdom, through Jesus
Christ our Lord.

Greetings to you all, in the name of the risen Christ, Amen.

It is an honour, a privilege, and very humbling to stand here today. I
thank you, the people of the Diocese of Cape Town and of the Anglican
Church of Southern Africa, for allowing God in Jesus Christ to call me
to lead and serve you. Thank you that you are partners with me in the
gospel, as we seek afresh to discover what is it to be the body of
Christ in our time, and who God is in Jesus Christ, for us here and now.

As I prepared for today, I chose the Sepedi phrase ג€œSekgo sa Metseג€ as
my theme. Simply put, sekgo is a vessel and metse is water. Yet the two
also have deeper meaning, just as living water, the Holy Spirit, does in
Johnג€™s gospel. Sekgo sa Metse not only provides drink for the thirsty;
it also transforms various ingredients into sustaining nourishment; and
having done so, it provides thlabego, the yeast, which catalyses the
next meal to come.

In todayג€™s gospel passage, dramatised so powerfully, we heard how the
disciples were sent to be channels of peace, channels of the breath ג€“
the Spirit ג€“ of God and of his forgiveness. Christ said to them ג€œPeace
be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.ג€ In
the same way, we, the baptized, the new body of Christ, are called
through the Spirit of God to be channels or vessels, sekgo, of that same
peace and forgiveness which we have received.

Christian thinkers from the liberation theologian Gustavo Guti�©rrez to
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, insist that gratitude must be
our first response to all we receive from God in Christ. So before
saying more about how we are called to be channels of peace and
forgiveness, I must record my own gratitude to those used by God to make
today possible.

Gratitude

The list is endless. First of all, my special thanks go to Lungi; to
Nyakallo and Paballo; and to Kedibone, my mother, for their love and
critical support. They join me in thanking all of you for being here today.

Dean Rowan Smith, thank you for welcoming me into your Cathedral, and
installing me in my new spiritual home. Thank you to all your staff,
especially the Revd Bruce Jenneker and the team who prepared this
wonderful service. Thank you to David Orr, the Director of Music, the
musicians and choirs ג€“ who are from not only the Cathedral, but also the
Dioceses of Saldanha Bay and False Bay. A special thank you to the Erub
childrenג€™s choir. To Bishop David Beetge, friend, and Dean and
Vicar-General of the Province, and to Diocesan Vicars-General Bishop
Garth and Canon Suzanne Peterson, now succeeded by Dean Andrew Hunter:
thank you for ably leading the Province, this Diocese, and the Diocese
of Grahamstown in the last six months. Bishop Garth, I particularly look
forward to working with you under the new structural arrangements of the
Diocese of Cape Town. Rob Rogerson, together with Canon Nangula
Kathindi, Gail Allen, Nobuntu Mageza, Maggy Clarke, Tony Hillier, the
Revd Sarah Rowland Jones and Mpho Ndebele deserve particular thanks for
a vast amount of hard work and organization. To all of these, and
everyone else who has helped make today possible, let us give a round of
applause.

I also want to thank our distinguished guests for joining us today. I am
grateful for this support from the Presidency, the Province and the City
of Cape Town; from MPs, members of Cabinet and other representatives of
national, regional and local government; from heads of educational
institutions; representatives of religious orders, and of the six
nations that comprise the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, as well as
funders and benefactors. I particularly thank those who have travelled
long distances to be here, and I know there are many of you. Let me just
mention his Grace the Archbishop of York representing the Archbishop of
Canterbury; his Grace the Archbishop of the Indian Ocean and Chairman of
the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa; Bishop Scarfe, representing
the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and Canon Kearon
representing the Anglican Consultative Council. I am grateful too for
the presence of ecumenical partners and leaders from other faith
communities. Di Oliver, the Venerable Erica Murray and Professor Njabulo
Ndebele, friends and family, thank you for your encouragement and
support. And last, but by no means least, I thank the Bishops, clergy
and people of this Diocese and of this Province. Thank you for the
enormous privilege you are bestowing upon me today.

Special gratitude goes to my predecessors, the bishops and archbishops
of Cape Town who laboured in love through challenging circumstances.
Their solid apostolic foundation, a foundation on which I pledge to
continue building, has enabled Godג€™s people to participate in restoring
this painfully broken and bruised world to Godג€™s loving embrace of
justice and reconciliation. I am conscious that we follow the journeying
pilgrims of the last 160 years of the Anglican Church of Southern
Africa, as we embark together on a new chapter in the life of the church
within our rapidly changing world.

Called and Sent

Jesusג€™ message to us today is the same as that to his disciples on the
first Easter Day. This, to paraphrase the evangelistג€™s words, is what he
says to them:

Peace be with you. As the loving God has sent me, even so I, Jesus his
Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, am sending you ג€“ the baptised, the
body of Christ, the Church, bearing your own scars as I bear mine ג€“
sending you on our behalf, in our name, to continue the ministry of
calling all of creation back home, back to peace with justice, and of
bringing freedom and hope to those trapped by fear and death.

Jesusג€™ greeting is both an invitation and a summons. It demands a
response from all who claim to follow him. There are three points to note.

First, in a situation characterised by despondency, hopelessness,
bewilderment, death, destruction, locked doors and fear, Jesus ushers in
peace, the shalom peace of God.

Second, he offers the marginalized and fearful Sekgo sa Metse, living
water, as he breathes in Godג€™s new, creative and life-giving Holy
Spirit. He transforms their feeling of inadequacy and self doubt.

Third, he commissions them to forgive sins: that is, to loose the
death-dealing bonds of sin, fear, anger, hatred, and all that corrupts
humanity; to heal those damaged by these ills; and to reconcile Godג€™s
people to God and to each other.

Godג€™s Model for Godג€™s Church

These three interrelated threads ג€“ shalom peace, the empowering of the
Spirit, and reconciling forgiveness ג€“ illustrate the nature and saving
acts of our Triune God. They also provide a template for the identity
and vocation of the new body of Christ, the Church. They help us regain
our confidence, which is not arrogance, for pursuing Godג€™s mission in
the world. Our mission is the mission of Jesus, and we are to learn to
do things his way, as we see him at work in the world to which he both
calls and sends us.

The Moderator of the World Council of Churches said to the global
Assembly in 2006, that ג€œA self-sufficient and inward-looking church
cannot survive in radically changing societies. Only a church that is
liberated from self-captivity, which is a church in creative dialogue
with its environment, a church courageously facing the problems of its
times, a church with the people and for the people, can become a living
source of Godג€™s empowering and transforming grace.ג€

He is right. The world is full of change and challenge, and we cannot
take refuge in ג€œmy church, my parish, my pew.ג€ From local community
issues to questions about the global environment and our own carbon
footprints, Christ calls us to join his Spirit-led mission of peace and
reconciliation, of empowering and transforming grace.

This is what I pledge myself to pursue today. I believe myself called to
be Sekgo sa Metse: a vessel for peace with justice and reconciliation,
and for cultivating a ג€œyeastג€ for healing the bruised, crushed and
broken in Godג€™s world.

Yet I do not think it is a call only for me. In describing the calling
of a bishop, the Prayer Book says ג€œYou will not do this on your own.ג€
Bishops are to work with other bishops ג€“ and also with priests, deacons,
and laity, as, and I quote again, we ג€œlead Godג€™s people in their mission
to the worldג€. Godג€™s mission is the mission of all the baptized. It is
the life of worship, witness and service to which we commit ourselves in
confirmation. The whole Church of God, regardless of denominational
boundaries, and, dare I add, those of other faiths and none, are
summoned to this work of Godג€™s healing action and reconciling love.

This is why the service today is called a service of Installation and
Rededication. I am inviting all of you to join me in rededicating
ourselves to be Sekgo sa Metse, Spirit-filled channels of peace with
justice, and yeast for forgiveness and reconciliation, in whatever ways
God calls us in this new chapter of our lives.

What might this mean for us?

Peace for the World

First, Jesus brought peace to those paralysed with fear behind locked
doors. The world around knows such fear ג€“ from Zimbabwe to Darfur, from
Iraq to Tibet. Yet from one end of Scripture to the other, God speaks
this same message: ג€œDo not fear.ג€ As Paul writes to Timothy ג€œGod did not
give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of
self-disciplineג€ (2 Tim1:7).

So we dare to participate in the mission of God to the world, even as we
recognise this is always a risky business. We are to usher in peace, and
actively bring to bear the healing presence of the crucified and
resurrected Christ across all the nations of our Province. He has a
message of shalom wholeness wherever there is conflict, fear, crime,
ill-health, violence ג€“ especially against women and children ג€“ HIV and
AIDS, landlessness, unemployment, under-development, poor educational
provision, maternal deaths, impoverishment or any other burden of
brokenness or oppression.

And we dare to participate as we are ג€“ aware of our own inadequacies,
frailties and weaknesses ג€“ because Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit of God
into us, the living water that flows through all the baptized. This is
the second important characteristic of Godג€™s channels of mission.

The Breath of God, the Spirit of New Life

The Lambeth Conference of 1968 declared: ג€œBaptism is not so much the
rite of a moment as the principle of a life-time.ג€ All the baptized are
constantly called and sent to live in the risen life of the crucified
Christ, and to share it with Godג€™s world. It is to this that we
rededicate ourselves today. We have to be ready to breathe new life
wherever Godג€™s children, in the church and beyond its walls, have given
up hope, or live in conflict, darkness and fear.

As you may know, I have been part of the Design Group preparing for the
gathering of Anglican Bishops at the Lambeth Conference in July. It is
my earnest prayer that our time together will rekindle this same
life-giving spirit and bring a renewed confidence in Christ and his
Spirit of reconciliation and renewal. I share my predecessorsג€™ yearning
to breathe peace, healing and wholeness into the painful divisions of
our beloved Anglican Communion. I will never tire of pointing out, as
our own diverse Synod of Bishops has affirmed, that those fundamentals
of faith that unite us far outweigh all that divides us. Perhaps the
Communion needs to know Christג€™s breath in our own locked and
fear-filled rooms.

This leads me to my third point.

Forgiveness

Archbishop Tutu, sitting over there, says forgiveness and reconciliation
go hand in hand, and that true forgiveness deals with the past and makes
the future possible. In other words, forgiveness is an act of faith in
the future. The risen Christ, who still bore his crucifixion scars,
acknowledges the scars we bear, and brings healing and restoration out
of, not in spite of, our woundedness. Today Jesus invites us not to hide
our scars, nor the scars of his church and his world, but to bring them
into his restorative embrace, so that, as we are loosed from our bonds,
healing and reconciliation may flow in us and through us.

We must be Sekgo sa Metse wherever old divisions of the past or new
inequalities of the present rear their heads ג€“ whether of race, or
wealth, or status, or power; whether in politics, or sport, or on
university campuses, or even within our churches. Archbishop Clayton
once said ג€œThe Church, the body of Christ, has a prophetic duty to stand
for righteousness. She must do so... It is not her duty to be popular.
It is her duty to speak the truth.ג€ In this way, we bear a moral duty to
ensure that the past does not destroy the future. This is as true of our
spiritual lives as it is of the political and economic and social lives
of our nations. All these need to experience Godג€™s redemptive Spirit, to
become part of his transforming and liberating vision for a just and
reconciled world.

In conclusion

There is so much more I could say about the vision I believe God is
setting before us. It is a vision we must seek through rootedness in
Christ Jesus, and ever-deepening engagement with Scripture and
Sacraments; through the discipline of daily prayer and Bible-reading.

It is a vision that will touch every area of our lives. Let me share
where it is already touching mine:

It is a vision of the restoration of dignity of each person, created by
God and precious in Godג€™s sight.

It is a vision of growing parish youth ministries, strengthened
ecumenical ministry in tertiary education and Anglican schools helping
address the skills shortages of our communities.

It is flourishing theological education, including through our
residential college in Grahamstown and the Anglican House of Studies in
Pietermaritzburg.

It is confident, competent, well-remunerated clergy, energising all
Godג€™s people in mission.

It is parishes as centres of peace and safety, offering shelter and
nurture the vulnerable, especially children and youth: whether parishes
in Cape Town, across South Africa, in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique,
Namibia and Swaziland, or in St Helena and Tristan da Cunha.

It is churches working in partnership with governments and civil society
to breathe hope and transformation into every aspect of our communities
and common life.

It is an Africa without conflict, and without the unjust structures that
fuel injustice; an Africa where the Anglican Church of Southern Africa
plays its full role within the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa,
the All Africa Conference of Churches and religious leadersג€™ forums,
while conscious of the world wide Communionג€™s need for unity.

It is a global community of justice and generosity, of economic fairness
and special care for the poorest, that urgently tackles unsustainable
growth in demand for oil, energy and other resources.

It is a world prepared to hear the words ג€œPeace be with you.ג€

People of God, dare to share this vision with me. Take the risk of
answering Jesusג€™ invitation to be called, and to be sent. Donג€™t be
afraid to be Sekgo sa Metse. He who calls us will strengthen and empower
us to fulfil the tasks to which he calls us.

Let us pray: May the God of Peace make you complete in everything good
so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in
his sight, though Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever.
Amen.

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