Friday, April 27, 2012

Leadership - Further Update

The latest news is that the broadcast is likely to be on Sunday at 9.30pm, with repeats on Monday: 10h30, Tuesday:22h30, Wednesday: 12h30, Thursday: 09h30, and Friday:23h30. We will just have to wait and see!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Leadership - Revised Broadcast Details

We have just heard this afternoon, that this episode of 'Judge for Yourself' (see prevous post) is now only going to be shown on ETVNews, ie DSTV 403, at 9pm on Sunday. When we find out if / when it will also be on ETV, this information will be posted on the blog.

Leadership - Judge for Yourself, ETV, 29 April, 18.30

Archbishop Thabo Magkoba will be appearing on ETV’s ‘Judge for Yourself’ programme, this coming Sunday, 29 April, at 18.30. The focus of the programme, hosted by Judge Dennis Davis, is Leadership, and he will participate alongside Minister Trevor Manuel and the organisational change expert, Louise van Rhyn.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Prayers and Assistance Urged for Sudan and South Sudan

The following statement was issued on 25 April 2012

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, has urged support for the Archbishop of Sudan’s appeal for peace, as tensions rise between Sudan and South Sudan. Encouraging prayer and material assistance from his church, he also calls for the international community, through the various channels open to it, to take steps to promote an immediate cessation of hostilities and encourage progress in establishing a just and lasting settlement.

Writing to the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), Dr Makgoba said,

‘Dear Brothers in Christ, I commend to your urgent prayers, and those of our whole church, the appeal from Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak, for peace, as tensions and violence mount between Sudan and South Sudan (see the Anglican Communion News Service release below). We pray for wisdom to prevail, so that full blown war may be averted, and a just and lasting settlement become more fully established between the two countries. We ask God to lead the two Presidents to continue pursuing peace, despite the challenges, and for the whole international community, including through such bodies as the African Union and United Nations, to take all appropriate steps to support and promote this process.

‘Let us also encourage giving what material support we are able to provide, towards those suffering as a result of this unrest and conflict. This can be given to Archbishop Daniel through the ACSA bank account.’

‘Yours in the Service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town’

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman on 021-763-1320 (office hours)


Banking Details:

Standard Bank;
Cape Town Branch No 020 009;
Account No 07 056 2423;
Account Name: ACSA - Provincial Trusts’ Board
Reference: Sudan

Anglican Communion News Service Release: Archbishop of Sudan appeals for peace as tensions rise between neighbouring countries

April 24, 2012 - ACNS: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/4/24/ACNS5092

By Anglican Alliance staff

The Anglican archbishop who was instrumental in delivering peace to Sudan has raised the spectre of full-blown war and appealed for restraint from the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan.
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak, leader of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, urged the two presidents to pursue peace in spite of the difficulties following the major clashes threatening the fragile peace that churches helped to broker in 2005.
In a statement released Monday, he wrote that he was deeply concerned that the conflict between the two countries has escalated close to full blown war. The current civil war began in 1983 and is one of the longest running conflicts in the world, costing nearly two million lives.
After a long history of violence and war since independence, a second major conflict broke out in 1983 between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the Government of Sudan.
Archbishop Daniel’s statement comes at a low moment in the peace process. The signatories of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the agreement which provided the path for the countries to separate last year, have lost momentum to follow through with their commitments.
Archbishop Daniel urged presidents Salva Kiir Mayardit and Omar Al Bashir not to lose the great amount of goodwill from their peoples shown during the process that led to the independence of South Sudan. He appealed to the people of both countries to refuse to be incited to return to war by their leaderships.
‘We should learn from the 55 years of war not to return to it so hastily. The blood of those who fought for peace should not have been poured in vain. We call on all sides to exercise restraint and pursue peace at all costs. God is on the side of those who seek peace.’
Unusually this week, as tensions both side of the border have reached a high, there have been attacks against Christian churches in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. Christians and Muslims across the usually tolerant city have joined together in condemning the violence.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Service for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

Below are the sermon and blessing from the Service of Thanksgiving to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, held in St Alban's Cathedral, Pretoria, on 17 April 2012, in the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

The Sermon

1 Timothy 2:1-6

May I speak in the name of God, who desires for us a quiet and peaceable life, lived in all godliness and dignity.

Your Royal Highness, Vice-Admiral Laurence, Excellencies, honoured guests, Cathedral Chapter and Choir, Choirs of Pretoria Girls’ and Pretoria Boys’ High Schools, brothers and sisters in Christ, friends, it is a great privilege to reflect on today’s joyful celebrations of the Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, not only as Queen of England, but also as head of the Commonwealth.

When South Africa finally achieved democracy in 1994, re-joining the Commonwealth was one of our new government’s first priorities. The old South Africa was, of course, among its founders. Indeed, the Afrikaner statesman, Jan Smuts, was among the first to propose such a network of nations, with historic ties to the British Crown.

Yet some asked in 1994 – and some continue to ask – why, after our long struggle for freedom, we should want to link ourselves to this body, with – let us be honest – roots in both colonialism and our own traumatic past. But today’s South Africans, more than most people, know that none of us need remain victims of our past. And at Eastertide, most of all, we affirm that no situation is beyond redemptive transformation, new life, and fruitful growth.

Today’s Commonwealth is vastly different from that envisaged by its founders. Its modern identity – reflected in the Singapore Declaration of 1971 – is a voluntary association of nations who believe that ‘international peace and order are essential to the security and prosperity of mankind’. It is committed to individual liberty, human rights and good governance, upheld by the rule of law within effectively functioning democracies. All this, of course, lies at the heart of the new South African Constitution.

It also lies at the heart of God’s desires for human society – as you read for us, Your Royal Highness. This is the ‘quiet and peaceable life’, lived ‘in all godliness and dignity’, so we might come to ‘knowledge of the truth’. Knowing God’s truth relates not only to our eternal destiny, but is also found in tangibly experiencing the liberty and abundant life promised by Christ Jesus – ‘the one mediator between God and humanity’ – in every area of human existence.

This good news, Christ’s gospel, should touch our souls, certainly; but also our hearts, minds and physical well-being, here and now: as individuals, and in our societies, nations and political systems. As I see it, this ranges from the abolition of material poverty, through to the freedom of speech of individuals and media. It also entails the provision of neutral secular space in which all faiths and none may be freely followed; as everyone enjoys tangible opportunity and encouragement to aspire to the greatest good of all.

When we live like this, says St Paul, ‘it is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.’ Therefore all in authority should expect citizens to hold them to such ideals, even as we also undertake to pray for God’s help – that leaders might have wisdom to know the right path to pursue, and the strength and courage to follow it.

In this, we also look to God, in Jesus Christ, for a true understanding of right leadership. As Holy Week and Easter remind us, it is the leadership of service, the readiness to dedicate his whole life to the responsibilities entrusted to him. We pray that the good example of the Queen – whose life has been so marked by these characteristics, and who says so clearly that she tries to follow Christ’s example – … we pray that her example may be emulated throughout the Commonwealth and beyond: in servant leadership, dedicated to the well-being of nations and peoples, especially those in greatest need.

The Commonwealth is a remarkable body, not least in the diversity of its members. This is both challenge and strength. I am reminded of the Scriptural image of the Body of Christ. St Paul writes of the great diversity – even at times, mutual incomprehension – that there is between seeing eyes and hearing ears, between hands and feet. But all hold together in Christ. Enriched by one another’s presence, they are able to do far more together than they could apart. This is something that a similar international association, the Anglican Communion, would do well to remember!

It is also our hope for the Commonwealth, united through the largely gospel-shaped principles outlined in the Singapore Declaration. We look especially to Britain, to be a servant leader within, and beyond, the Commonwealth – helping us all breathe vibrant life into the principles we share, and further peace with justice throughout the world. Yet South Africa, alongside other members, must also make our contribution to the Commonwealth’s work – of which education is one priority area, very close to my heart. Another is the environment. It is perhaps a happy coincidence that the main Diamond Jubilee celebrations fall on World Environment Day – both point us to faithful stewardship of whatever responsibilities are entrusted to us.

Today we celebrate a long life of faithful stewardship. Indeed, it was more than sixty years ago, when, in 1947, the young Princess Elizabeth first addressed the Commonwealth. And it was here in South Africa – in Cape Town to be exact – where she spoke these famous words: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.’

And so, with great joy in our hearts, we thank the ‘God of Grace’ of whom we earlier sang, for his ‘glorious faithfulness’, and for hers; that as Queen, she has been enabled to fulfil her promise, to such a great degree. We offer her our heartfelt congratulations, and our prayers: both our prayers of thanksgiving for this life of dedicated service; and our intercessions that she may continue to walk in the blessed ways of the Lord in all that still lies ahead. And may, as we also sang, our Great Redeemer continue to guide each one of us, and may we all, throughout our lives, ever give him our songs and our praises.

Amen.

The Blessing

God the Father,
for the coming of whose kingdom we pray,
grant his wisdom and guidance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second,
and to all in authority;

God the Son,
who is the Prince of Peace,
grant all people a quiet and peaceable life,
of godliness and dignity;

God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens our inner being by his power,
grant us the surpassing knowledge of his truth,
and the immeasurable fullness of his love;

Go forth into the world in peace, be of good courage,
fight the good fight of faith, that you may finish your course with joy;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always. Amen




Monday, April 16, 2012

To the Laos - To the People of God, Easter 2012

Alleluia! Christ is risen! We are risen! Alleluia!

Dear People of God

I wish you a blessed and joyful Easter! Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has taken away the sins of the world – by his death he has destroyed death, and by his rising he has restored us to eternal life. And so we are delivered from the bondage of sin and the fear of death, into the glorious liberty of the Children of God. Alleluia, indeed!

May God our Father, who, by his Spirit, raised his Son from death, grant us grace to walk with him in his risen life. May we all be people who demonstrate what it is to receive the redemptive power of the resurrection, working within every aspect of our lives. To show in practice God’s on-going work of healing and wholeness, of shaping us in increasing Christ-likeness, is one of the most effective ways of sharing the gospel with the world around. All of us, as individuals, and in our church communities, should be places where the risen Christ is seen to be alive, so others may encounter him. It is not enough for us to preach the resurrection to others – we should also enjoy the fullness of all that Christ has won for us in our own lives and relationships!

We also pray for the fullness of the resurrection to be experienced throughout our world – in Syria, and across the Middle East; and in Mali, in Sudan and South Sudan, in Zimbabwe, and in all the troubled places of our continent. We pray for this also in every country of our Province, especially in situations of material poverty and all other forms of impoverishment (for example, in the provision of education, health services, water and sanitation), where there is injustice and unfairness (including in political structures and/or their implementation), and wherever truth (such as through media freedom) and abundant life are constrained instead of being encouraged to flourish.

Renewed life and hope are God’s ‘theme tune’ for life within our congregations, our churches, our dioceses – calling us joyfully and confidently onwards, through whatever challenges we face. Renewed life and hope are also God’s desire and promise to the world-wide Anglican Communion.

As you may know, the Church of England has voted not to adopt the Anglican Covenant that has been sent to all the Member Churches of the Communion for consideration. This does not mean that the Covenant lapses. Nor does not mean an end to the fundamental underlying questions which the Covenant is intended to address. We still need to ask ourselves: who do we believe ourselves called to be by God, and what does it mean to speak of an Anglican ‘Communion’ – rather than, say, a ‘Federation’ or other form of association. A ‘Communion’ is so much more – a true family of churches, within the body of Christ, as so many of us have experienced, for example, through exchanges with link Dioceses. We feel a closeness through recognising our ‘family resemblance’, even when we are from very different parts of the world, and the frequently used language of ‘bonds of affection’ resonates clearly.

But how can we order our international institutional life, and the relationships between Provinces, in ways that reflect this experience, and our theological understanding of the unity with diversity that is found in belonging together as members of the body of Christ, as Scripture describes? Provinces have always been legally independent (reflecting their separate Constitutions and Canons); while the ‘Instruments of Communion’ have only been advisory, rightly respecting Provinces’ status under canon law. But such legal independence can allow, and even promote comfortableness with, a separateness that has not always been sufficiently balanced by more organic and spiritual interrelationships. We have wrestled over decades with how to get this balance right, for example, in commitments to ‘Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ’ made at the 1963 Toronto Congress. The Communion said then ‘our unity in Christ, expressed in our full communion, is the most profound bond among us, in all our political and racial and cultural diversity’, and therefore ‘our need is … to understand how God has led us, through the sometimes painful history of our time, to see the gifts of freedom and communion in their great terms, and to live up to them.’ The Congress warned ‘if we are not responsible stewards of what Christ has given us, we will lose even what we have.’

My great concern is that the poor handling of disagreements on human sexuality is evidence that we have not learnt the lessons of that time, and have not been ‘responsible’. We have been content to drift apart in our Provinces, on the basis of legal separateness, so that when differences arose we had lost our ability to connect and work through them in love together. If we are serious about living as a global ‘Communion’, we must address this. I still believe that the Covenant offers us an excellent framework for doing so, if we are prepared to work for it to achieve its full potential. Perhaps some of us must take a lead in exploring how it can reach its promise, on behalf of others who are unable to take that step at present. Seven Provinces have already affirmed the Covenant, and we took the first step to do so at the last Provincial Synod. I very much hope we shall ratify this decision next year.

Yet we should not do so lightly, but in full awareness that we are committing ourselves to live in mutual interdependence – even as we uphold non-interference in one another’s affairs. I have written more about the Covenant in two long letters which you can read on line at http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/2012/01/necessary-covenant.html and http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/2012/03/anglican-covenant-letter-to-archbishop.html. I know some dioceses have discussed the Covenant. If you have not, please do take time to look at it, and do forward any comments you have to the Provincial Executive Officer, at peo@anglicanchurchsa.org.za.

Meanwhile, I hope you have seen my tribute to Dr Rowan Williams, who stands down at the end of the year. We have been inordinately privileged to have had such an able theologian and deeply spiritual thinker, as Archbishop of Canterbury. (See http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/2012/03/archbishoip-of-canterbury.html). The Anglican Communion Office is inviting all Anglicans around the world to share their view on the priorities for the ministry of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, through their website at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/communion/abc/comments.cfm. Most of all please pray for all involved in the appointment process.

Yours in the Service of Christ, crucified and raised for our redemption,

+Thabo Cape Town

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nedbank Chair's Right to Criticise Government

The following press release was issued on 15 April 2012

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has defended the right of business leader Reuel Khoza to criticise the government and has called for the controversy over his views to be transformed into a thorough debate on South Africa's economic policies.

He also said in a statement that the suggestion by ANC General Secretary Gwede Mantashe that Nedbank could lose government business over the criticism was "very worrying," adding: "This is a free and democratic society, where all of us, including business, have the right to criticise government and the governing party without being punished for it. I say, don't tackle the man, tackle the ball."

The full text of Archbishop Makgoba's statement follows:

Nedbank Chairperson Reuel Khoza has taken a brave stand in expressing some of the critical ethical and moral challenges facing South Africa today. As a citizen of a constitutional democracy, he is well within his rights to have raised his concerns, just as government ministers and the General Secretary of the ANC are within their rights to have responded robustly.

However, General Secretary Gwede Mantashe's statement in the New Age, that "One of the issues that must be discussed in earnest is whether banking with an institution that sees government as foolish and insane makes any sense," is very worrying.

This is a free and democratic society, where all of us, including business, have the right to criticise government and the governing party without being punished for it. I say, don't tackle the man: tackle the ball.

Business in South Africa has as much right as any of us, and indeed a responsibility, to play its role in achieving social cohesion through constructive engagement.

However, the ANC and contributors to the debate such as Minister Blade Nzimande also raise important issues which must not be lost amid the controversy. What is the ideal economic policy for South Africa, and why is this debate generating such anger? We need a broad open debate.

All of us need to seize this opportunity to raise our concerns, and together build a new consensus on economic policy. Let South Africans talk freely – no one should be afraid to express their opinions.

Archbishop Makgoba may be contacted on 071 362 8510.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman on 021-763-1320 (office hours)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Message to the Archbishop of the Sudan on the Latest Violence

The following press release was issued on 12 April 2012.

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town sends Message to the Archbishop of Sudan on Latest Violence

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town has written to the Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, expressing the support of his church in the light of increasing tension and violence between Sudan and South Sudan. Writing in Easter Week, Dr Makgoba highlights his ‘reflections on what it means to be each other’s neighbours in living out the renewed hope of Eastertide’. He assures Dr Deng of prayers for a successful outcome to negotiations, delivering a settlement between Sudan and South Sudan ‘which will bring lasting peace with justice to both nations and all who live within their borders’ and also offers prayers for those killed, bereaved, injured or otherwise harmed by the violence.

The full text of the letter follows below.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman on 021-763-1320 (office hours)


Letter to the Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan

My Dear Brother in Christ,

The good news of Easter, and my own reflections on what it means to be each other’s neighbours in living out the renewed hope of Eastertide, compel me to write to you, to assure you of our continued support and prayers for you and the people of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and indeed all the people of the Sudan and South Sudan, especially in the light of news of increasing tension and violence.

You are much on our hearts and on our minds, as we see the media reports, and so we pray that efforts to resume negotiations and achieve a peaceful resolution may be successful, and that both nations may establish true justice and peace for all.

As we pray for your country and faithful Christians there, we also think and pray beyond our household of faith and pray for the souls of all the departed, and for all who are injured, bereaved, or harmed in any way by the renewed conflicts. We also pray for implementation of a real peace between the two countries and the successful outcome of negotiations.

May Sudan and South Sudan come to a settlement which will bring lasting peace with justice to both nations and all who live within their borders. And in this, may you and your church be blessed, and be a blessing to others in sharing the sure and certain hope that Jesus Christ has won for us all.

Yours in the service of Christ, crucified and raised to new life for the redemption of the world,

+Thabo Cape Town





Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Vigil at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town

The following sermon was preached at the Easter Vigil Service at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, on 7 April 2012.

Romans 6:3-11; Mark 16:1-8


Alleluia, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Sisters and Brothers in Christ, may all the fullness of Easter resurrection life be yours!

I was reflecting earlier that this is my fifth Easter with you, and I realise that I am more than well settled, because I am now finding that the sort of questions I get from journalists at this time of year are beginning to sound all too familiar.

So, for example, I’ve had one journalist asking what my Easter message would be to MTN, given the accusations that they are undermining South Africa’s values, in their relationships in Iran; and another asked me what I thought of the Red Bull advert; and then there was the question about ‘halaal’ hot cross buns – where, perhaps a little flippantly, I answered that Christians should take this as encouragement to share them with their Muslim neighbours!

And then came the Sunday Times, asking for my response to the news that Pastor Ray McCauley’s Rhema Church is planting a congregation at Silverstar Casino on the West Rand. Well, I hope they carry that part of my answer in which I say that the Holy Spirit leads God’s people to proclaim the gospel anywhere and everywhere, and so if the Holy Spirit has led Rhema to open a church at the casino, well, I hope they won’t gamble, but I also hope they will persevere in preaching the good news of Jesus Christ as I’m sure people there need to hear it!

For this is our Easter good news: Jesus, who was crucified, has been raised! And we who have been united with his death in baptism, are united within him also in his risen life! Yet what does it mean for you to be united with him in his risen life? What does it mean for me, and in my responding to the sort of questions I’ve just outlined?

The gospel of St Mark, probably the oldest account we have in Scripture, tells us of how the women learnt that Jesus had been raised; a whole new way of life has begun – but it does not tell us what happened next. There is a lesson here for us. We know Jesus has been raised, and so we have been raised too. Yet it is for us to find out what this resurrection means for us, here and now.

The young man points us in the right direction. He says to the women at the tomb ‘He is going ahead of you.’ Jesus leads us on, on whatever life’s journey has in store for us. All of us must be ready to be led onwards in our spiritual pilgrimage. Some of us will do that through actual physical pilgrimages, for example to the Holy Land. Perhaps coming to the Cathedral tonight is a step on your journey of faith.

Outer journeying is often accompanied by inner journeying. It may just be to a quiet day with the Centre of Christian Spirituality, or for a weekend away. Some go on longer retreats. Perhaps earlier this week you walked the ‘Stations of the city’ in the company of others – from other churches, even from other faiths. Companions on the journey are often important in helping us seek the face of God – as the two disciples found on the road to Emmaus, when they realised that it was Jesus with whom they had walked.

Our gospel reading reminds us that Easter has come to us all – and yet we are also called forwards, into new life, by Jesus who goes ahead of us. What might this mean for you, together, as the Cathedral family. You too are at a point where a whole new way of life has begun. It is less than a year since I installed your Dean, and here is he now with a completely fresh clergy team. A new way of life has begun for the Cathedral and its people – but, like the first disciples, we too are still finding out what this will mean for us.

Some of you may know the group development model described as ‘Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing’. This lays out helpfully the sort of stages that people go through, when some new chapter is begun. Let me explain. First comes ‘forming’ – when a new reality is created, with all its exciting hopes and expectations! People get to know one another, but are all still on best behaviour as we start to consider the challenges ahead from our new perspectives!

And there are certainly plenty of challenges – not least, the roof! But there are also questions about what it means to be at the heart of the city, at a time of so many political and socio-economic changes. And what of our role in the Diocese, the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, and within the world-wide Anglican Communion, where we have so many friends, such strong ties – and yet where there are also many changes happening. We must not forget what is perhaps the primary calling – as a Christian community, which must be nurtured in its life of worship, witness and service.

You may have noticed that I am using the words ‘we’ and ‘our’ rather a lot! For I too have a spiritual home here – not only on festivals, but also often at the 8am Sunday service, when, if I am not busy elsewhere, it is a joy to slide quietly into my seat, and be fed through being part of this family of God. And therefore it is my commitment to help you in discovering and living out God’s vision for your lives. So I share with you, in this process of wrestling with the questions of the Cathedral’s new calling.

And alongside all these challenges come the other questions, of what new beginnings come with this new Dean, to whom God has given many different gifts, different experiences and skills, a different personality and character, to his predecessor – and the same is true of the full time clergy team.

There is much promise of newness of life – but such change can be very unsettling, once the honeymoon period is over. And so then comes the storming! All the different ideas about who we are and what we should be doing come into the open, where they compete for consideration. This needs to happen, if we are to go forwards. At best it is constructive brainstorming – but sometimes it can be more tempestuous, as it stirs up unspoken assumptions, and forces us to look more radically at who we are and where we should be going.

Yet we should not be afraid. As the young man at the tomb said to the women, ‘Do not be alarmed.’ For the risen Christ may well be deliberately leading us on a more profound journey of reflection and discovery than we had anticipated. We can be confident that – by his grace, and holy trust, tolerance and patience growing among us – God will help us take on this deeper task of discernment, and find his way forward for us together.

As we seek the face of God himself, we will come to see in him a shared vision and common goals, and so develop shared understandings of how we should pursue these. This is called the ‘norming’ stage. We establish a ‘new norm’, a common view of our vocation and how we will give expression to it, within our walls and in engagement with the community around.

And the better we can establish such a new norm, the better we are likely then to do in ‘performing’ – in actually achieving this vision – in living it out in fruitful lives. For we know that our ultimate calling, in following Jesus, is to abide in him and ‘bear the fruit that will last’.

Yet following Jesus can be demanding – for, as he tells us, this means taking up our crosses. As we go forward, there may be aspects of our old life that we have to leave behind: which we have, so to speak, to put to death. When this happens, we should not be surprised to find ourselves grieving. This is natural. But God comforts those who bring their griefs to him – as Jesus promised in the beatitudes. The sorrow of Good Friday gives way to the joy of Easter. And the joy of Easter flows through us to the world – it is the basis of our ‘performing’, bearing fruit wherever we are called.

So let us share in reflecting on how to make the Easter message tangible within and beyond these walls. Please pray with and for me too, as I consider how to share the good news that Christ is risen in concrete ways some of the areas to which I am called. Easter people, like the Old Testament prophets, are to be a prophetic and consistent voice in our land: a voice of prayer to God, and of conscience to our leaders. We are both to intercede, and to demand justice and mercy for all. Informal settlements are especially on my heart – from Khayelitsha’s water and sanitation needs, to the people of Langa, or Kennedy Road near Durban, following devastating fires last month, last week. Therefore let us pray, and work, for proper housing, safety, sanitation and water for everyone, as part of the abundant life which the Risen Jesus Christ offers.

So, finally, dear people of God of St George’s Cathedral – may all the fullness of Christ’s resurrection life be yours! And do not be alarmed, if new life is unsettling. Know that the risen Christ is going ahead of you – and as you follow him, you will find that all he has told you, all his promises, are true.

Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chrism Eucharist and Renewal of Clergy Vows

The following sermon was preached at the Chrism Eucharist with the Renewal of Clergy Vows, at St Thomas' Church, Rondebosch, on 5 April 2012.

Isaiah 61:1-9; Revelation 1:4b-8; Luke 4:16-21

May I speak in the name of the living God, who is, and was and is to come. Amen.

[Expressions of thanks to all who share in the work of the Diocese, and to all who helped in the preparation of this service.]

Once again we hear those familiar words, from Old and New Testaments: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Jesus Christ, so that he might fulfil his calling. And we believe that the Spirit of the Lord comes upon us, so we, in our turn, too may fulfil our own God-given vocation.

God’s Spirit comes upon all Christians – dwelling within each one of us, as signified in our baptism. And we pray for God’s Spirit to come in a particular way upon those called to ordained ministry. But we also believe God’s Spirit comes upon the body of Christ, so that together, we, his church, may also fulfil our God-given calling.

It is easy to forget this, in our individualistic society. But today is a good day to consider this, as we come together specifically in the Eucharistic fellowship of the Diocese, in the koinonia of communion, in which we are inevitably bound with one another through together being ‘in Christ’. Looking back, and looking ahead, as my fifth year here begins, I am confident of the work of the Holy Spirit among us – indwelling our structures, our processes, our institutional life.

I reflected on some of this at Diocesan Standing Committee – how we have moved forward with a sense of doing ‘service delivery with the gospel’ within our churches, within our city, especially through the life that God’s Spirit is breathing into Chapter 20 of the Diocesan Acts, with its provisions for various task teams. We have made huge progress with the Social Development Forum. We are taking important steps forward with music and liturgy; and with corporate governance practices – King III, the Audit Committee, and the Remuneration Committee. We are now seeking out skilled individuals to serve on these, and on the Stewardship Giving Committee. And though we are budgeting for a deficit in running costs this year, this does not undermine the bigger picture which is that our overall Diocesan finances are actually in a very good place. Through all of these, and through the ‘Renew Africa Season’ that will begin later this year, we are strengthening our capacity for renewal and growth.

And so we see the Spirit’s work among us, not only in what we see as the obviously ‘spiritual’ - being rooted in Scripture and in prayer – but also across the whole breadth of the life of faith, the life of ‘worship, witness and service’. This calls us to be faithful stewards of our resources – and I don’t just mean the environment, though that is vital, but in the ordering of our time, our working lives, our critical engagement with society. We must use all these resources well, so that we can strive towards our God-given potential, to fulfil our God-given vocation of preaching redemption from sin and death, and demonstrating God’s limitless loving care for God’s people, and God’s creation.

God’s Spirit is upon us, calling us forward, often into untrodden territory. God’s Spirit challenges us to use old tools to dig deep and find newness of life. God’s Spirit is pressing us to have a prophetic ministry – perhaps declaring the gospel in new areas.

For myself, I had not expected when I came to Cape Town to spend so much time on questions of water and sanitation – which has led some to call me ‘the toilets Archbishop’! Yet I am sure that Jesus, who was not afraid to embrace unclean lepers, would not have held back when seeing people in such need; with their safety and dignity compromised by the lack of these basic constitutional provisions.

And I did not expect to spend so much time with the Press Freedom Commission (and I am happy to say we have now sent our report for editing and printing; and I hope you will read it when it is published). The same is true of opposing the Protection of State Information Bill. Yet Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – and so how can we allow the suppression of the truth, which will only undermine the ability of our society to live in ways that promote abundant life for all?

Within the Church, as both ACSA and our Diocese move from vision and planning to implementation, I find myself called to spend more time and energy on fund-raising. I also find I need to do more reflecting and acting on how faith relates to money and wider economic questions – which, I have to say, is an area I generally prefer to leave to others!

To be a Christian, to place ourselves in the hands of the living God, to be open to his Spirit coming upon us, is a risky business! It is to lay ourselves open to being taken outside our comfort zones. This is as true of us as congregations and Diocese, as it is of us as individuals. And it is as true of our outer lives as it is of our inner spiritual journeys.

There is no part of our lives – together, or as individuals – in which God’s Spirit will not interfere! He interferes for our own good, and for the good of those to whom he sends us! Therefore, today, we recommit ourselves to live dangerously, following wherever God’s Spirit leads!

This requires us, in our busy schedules, in the turmoil of changing society, to make space and time to be open to the Spirit coming upon us; to listen to that still, small voice; and to be ready to respond when we hear the call ‘follow me’. There should be no tension between preaching the good news of eternal life and the coming of God’s kingdom; and the living out of the kingdom’s eternal values, such as justice and mercy – in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

Sometimes, I know, I get the balance of life wrong – in my spirituality, and in how I direct my time and energies. And when I get it wrong, I feel it. Imbalance in my spiritual equilibrium tells me; unease in my body tells me – and my staff and my family tell me too, often in more explicit ways!!

But the answer is not to draw back, and attempt to live a safe life on the surface. There we are too much at the mercy of being tossed about on the ups and downs of the waves caused by the fickle changing winds in today’s turbulent world. Instead, we need deeper sea anchors – that reach down into the bottomless depths of God’s flowing Spirit – depths where we perhaps cannot see clearly, but where we feel the certainty of God’s presence, steadily engaging us.

St Augustine said that the presence and knowledge of God is ‘both sought in order that it may be found more sweetly, and found in order that it may be sought more eagerly’. The more we find him, the more we yearn for him, and the more we seek him – this is surely the pattern of our lives. For, as St Augustine also said, if we think we have understood God, then what we have understood is not God – for God is always taking us beyond ourselves, and beyond our capacity to pin him down.

We need to remember this, for sometimes it can be dangerous to say ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’ – for it can tempt us to believe that we have somehow ‘arrived’. Yet becoming a Christian, or being ordained, is not an arrival – it is a beginning!

So, on the one hand, all Christians are to follow Jesus Christ, empowered by the same Spirit, in bringing good news wherever there is impoverishment; in proclaiming release to all who are held captive, imprisoned, trapped and confined; in declaring the recovery of sight to the blind, and so forth. But on the other hand, we also still need to keep hearing this good news, in finding release, in having our blindness healed, and so on.

Indeed, I have been personally challenged by this realisation, in pondering what it means to do ‘service delivery with the gospel’ at the level of parish / pastoral charge and local community; and of individuals within parishes / pastoral charges and local communities. If we want individuals and communities to know and experience for themselves what such promises mean, it is not enough for us just to declare them. We too must model what it means to receive the gospel, and go on receiving it in ever greater fullness.

Do we, as clergy, as Christian leaders, show our people what it means to acknowledge our own poverty and receive God’s good news? Do we demonstrate in our own lives God’s release, God’s liberty, from what holds us back, from what oppresses or traps or constrains us? Do we live allowing our own blind spots to be touched, and have our eyes opened to new ways of seeing? Do we show that we are prepared to be taken outside our comfort zones – in our inner life, and in our outer life – following God’s calling, however disconcerting? And do we help the communities within our local churches demonstrate what it means to receive the good news of the gospel – so that we can be a model for the wider communities around us to receive this good news?

I suspect it is sometimes far easier to preach these things to others, than to receive them ourselves! But if we are not open to receive, how can we expect others also to receive?

Perhaps this Triduum, the challenge for us who are preaching and teaching is to listen for ourselves to the word we believe God is giving us to share with others! Perhaps in the next few days we need to reflect more not on how we can bring this good news to others, but more on where we need to receive it ourselves. For we know that there is no limit to the redemptive work that God desires to do among his people – until everything in heaven and earth is reconciled to God by the blood of the cross (Col 1:20).

So this year, let our lives not only reflect what it means to communicate the continuing work of Christ’s passion, his death and resurrection – but also what it means to receive that continuing work within our own lives: as clergy, as Christians, as congregations, and as a Diocese. In the coming days, we shall, with great solemnity and great joy, commemorate the glorious story of our redemption through Christ’s death and resurrection.

My prayer for us all is that our lives may be places where the unfolding of this glorious story, this holy mystery, may be truly visible.

So may we be those, of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke in the last verse of our first reading: ‘All who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.’ And may we bless others, by showing them how they too may receive God’s blessing. A holy and blessed Easter to you all. Amen



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fire in Kennedy Road

The following press release was issued on 4 April 2012.

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba has sent his condolences and the assurance of his continued support to the people of the Kennedy Road settlement after a tragic fire swept through their community on Tuesday.

The Archbishop conveyed the message through a letter to the Rt Revd Rubin Phillip, Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Natal. He said in a statement:

"We are deeply saddened in Holy Week to learn of the fire which has ravaged the little which the people and community still possessed. I understand that it is estimated that at least 1000 people are now homeless.

"I know of the journey of the people of Kennedy Road: of their struggle for descent housing, for dignity and respect and the realisation of their constitutional rights. As we weep with them at this time, we continue to support their call for dignity and justice, and we appeal to our leaders and to the general population to help provide people with proper houses, and to improve the provision clean water and decent sanitation.

"May the message of Easter bring consolation to the community and a resolve to continue their fight for better housing, sanitation and water, as well as for safety."

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Wendy Kelderman on 021- 763-1320 (office hours)