Tuesday, 13 July 2010

To the Laos - To The People of God, July 2010

Dear People of God

Well, the World Cup is finally over! Spain has won, in a thrilling final, and the celebrations will, I am sure, continue for a long time.

We also have cause for continuing celebration. The first tournament on African soil was a resounding success, from almost every perspective, even if Bafana Bafana, and then the Black Stars of Ghana, did not progress as far as we had hoped. It was the a vivid affirmation of all that is best in our societies – people of every background uniting in love of the ‘beautiful game’; and proof, if it be needed, that with focus, commitment, hard work and perseverance, we can achieve whatever we set our hearts and minds to do!

So let me encourage you, especially if you feel a little ‘down’ that it is over, to spend a few moments reflecting on all that you found best in the tournament – and thank God. St Paul says ‘whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’ (Phil 4:8). And so we should, whether because we overcame all the sceptics’ predictions and so have given a huge boost to potential increases in tourism and investment and economic upliftment; or because crime fell; or because for those of us in South Africa in particular there truly was a glorious sense of the whole nation coming together. We can sustain and build on all these to develop healthy societies for all our people. (I commend the Keep Flying the Flag campaign, as a visible sign of holding on to all we have achieved. See www.keepflying.co.za.)

There is also a challenge here – particularly to politicians and government services. If South Africa can deliver on the World Cup, the largest sporting event apart from the Olympics (and we may be bidding for that, next!), then really, any government ought to be able to deliver on health, education, housing, water and sanitation, and the other needs of its people. All it takes is focus, commitment, hard work and perseverance. Of course, we know that there are steep, high, mountains to climb in some sectors – but we should all be optimistic, because we now know what can be done, if we truly want to do it, and keep working at it.

Did you know that Danny Jordaan and his team first began planning for South Africa to bid for the World Cup 16 years ago, in 1994? I mention this, because we can be encouraged to think big, and think long term, in our planning. This is of course what we are doing in our ‘Vision 2020’ process at Provincial Synod at the end of September. Do keep our Synod preparations in your prayers.

But I also want individuals – young people in particular – to dare to think big, and think long term. Especially dare to think ‘on your knees’, asking God how he wants you to use your life so you can make the biggest possible God-shaped difference in the world! Helping build God’s kingdom, pursuing a life of eternal significance, is a far more profound measure of success than seeking money or status. Not everyone can be rich or famous, but everyone can become God’s valuable instrument. For some this may mean becoming teachers, nurses, doctors; or upholding the highest ethical values in some commercial walk of life. If you marry and have children, it certainly means being the best spouse, the best parent, you can be. And for some it will mean saying ‘Yes’ to God’s call to some form of full time Christian service – even the precious vocation of ordained ministry.

We should encourage all our young people to listen to God’s calling on their lives, and consider the possibility of ordination. This was one of the themes of the Anglican Students’ Fellowship Conference in Lesotho last month. It was my great joy to join them there. I’m also looking forward to the Annual Consultation of Diocesan Youth Councils in Swaziland in September. ‘Protection and Nurture of Children and Young People’ is one of the eight priority areas of our Vision, not only within the life of faith, but also through promoting their safety and well-being across wider society. We are also deliberately ensuring we take account of the perspective of young people in tackling our other priority areas, across everything from liturgical renewal to leadership development, health, and the environment.

The needs of young people have been in my mind in other ways recently. Last month I participated in the hand-over to the Governing Body and Department of Education of Mzamowethu pre-primary school, in Mzam’omhle township, which had been built with the support of St Martin’s in Gonubie. We congratulate the community on this achievement! And last week, I joined the launch of an initiative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Institute, and Equal Education (of which I am a patron) to promote reading and fully functioning libraries in all the public schools of South Africa, as a tribute to Madiba on his birthday. I hope all your churches have received my message encouraging you to become collection points for books that can be donated to local schools. If you haven’t seen it, you will find it on my blog at http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/.

If you have internet access, you can follow my latest news by ‘subscribing’ at the bottom of the web page. Then you will get an email whenever anything is posted, to keep you up to date. You can see there that I have had a busy few months, even though I have tried to be on holiday during July! I was privileged to give an address at a UN Africa Consultation on the Status of Jerusalem earlier this month – and was able to speak up for our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters, whose voice is so often unheard. Do keep them in mind, as you ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ (Ps 122:6). Last month I addressed the annual USPG conference about ‘Mission Realities for Southern African Anglicans’ and spoke about how our hugely diverse Province holds together ‘in Christ’, finding our unity ‘at the foot of the cross’. Do pray that the Anglican Communion may hold fast to Jesus as Lord and Saviour, as the source of both unity and truth. You can read the full texts of my speeches on the blog or the ACSA website.

This month, please pray especially for the Diocese of Mbhashe that will be inaugurated on 16 July; and for Archdeacon Daniel Kgomosotho and his family, as he is consecrated the new Bishop of Mpumalanga, on 24 July.

Yours in the Service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

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