Wednesday, 25 December 2013

[UPDATED] Sermon at Midnight Mass, George's Cathedral, Cape Town, December 25, 2013

Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14 and Luke 2:1-20

May I speak in the name of God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of endless Peace, whose authority grows continually in His world! Amen.

What a joy and privilege it is to be here and share this Christmas Eve service with you all! Thanks to the Dean and his staff, all who make our fellowship and worship in this Cathedral Church such a great occasion for peace and joy! Congratulations too, Mr Dean and Bonita, on your 29th wedding anniversary.

We join you in thanking God for the gift and sacrament of marriage and of family life, all the more so today, for tonight we ponder on the news of the holy family starting their family life with a child born in a manger.

Wow, what an end to the year – especially with regard to the passing on of Madiba our icon. Let us be silent for a while as we further acknowledge the 9th day since his burial in Qunu and especially as we lift Ma Graca Machel and Madiba’s broader family in our prayers. [Silence]

Let me continue, for in the midst of death we have life in Jesus Christ our Lord and believe that both the living and the dead are in his hands, and are comforted with these words.

So, a happy and blessed Christmas to all of you who are present in this service, for you too are part of the broader family of God through the birth of Jesus Christ, which we are celebrating tonight. To our regular cathedral family members – even if for some, “regular” means attending midnight Mass regularly every year – welcome, we appreciate your presence tonight.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, now Lord Rowan Williams, used to tell a story which I am paraphrasing – and which my wife says I have told you too many times. Rowan would say, if someone rushed hurriedly into this cathedral, and yelled “Shut the door, run for cover, or dash out," very few would remain seated.

Today’s Gospel passage speaks into this situation, to our fear of the unknown, or a fear of the known which we have kept closely guarded. The Lucan gospel announces boldly tonight: "Do not be afraid."

In modern IT language - which of course is not apt theological language, but as an archbishop in a family raising two teenagers at the moment, I can use colloquial language - God is declaring, through his billboard, or his App, for the the whole world to see and hear, "I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people” – not just some people.

God declares, in the company of his heavenly host that he has seen in our world religion being politicised and the persecution of Christians globally escalated;

He has smelt the rot and pain of inequality in our midst and the resultant humiliation and exclusion of many from the economic order in his world of plenty;

God declares that he has sensed our anxiety and fear, our shame and disgrace when we cannot afford a maternity ward and have to give birth in a shack or a taxi after being sent off home from a local clinic;

God puts his feelings on his sleeve and opens up his heart, and his heart is as heavy and broken as are ours by our personal struggles and the global systemic problems of this mortal life. God sends us his heavenly host to call us back from our straying away from what creation was intended to be; to unveil a road back home.

Throughout our lessons, the consistent theme for today is: I am intervening, I am not an aloof God who is untouchable, distant and unresponsive to your longing.

As the Psalmist says elsewhere in the Bible, God says to us, "I will unloose your bonds." Today's passage from Isaiah puts this declaration succinctly, God declares: I will break the bar across your shoulder, lift your burdens and cast off darkness and fear and illumine you with Christ our light!

Christmas can thus be understood as the birth of good news. It is appropriately celebrated when we proclaim, in words and action, this good news, that God who is love, has pitched his shack in our midst for all people and his creation.

God loved us so much that his son, Jesus Christ, is born of human flesh and blood and encounters the joys and also the angst of human life.

In entering this world of time and space, he holds before us a mirror so that we catch a glimpse of both the divine and a true and full humanity. His birth as one of us transforms and offers us an opportunity to be moulded into the image of his holiness.

That is why we have reason to celebrate this day, this good news, even if life has dealt us a blow in one way or the other in human terms.

God, in this birth that we are celebrating tonight, declares that we can never be alone in our anguish or want, nor will we be left to our own devices, to discriminate against or to lord over the other, until we are wiped off the face of this earth. He is Emmanuel. He is with us. He is the one to whom we sing throughout Advent, “O come, o come Emmanuel!” and frees us from all that keeps us in captivity. In Christmas it is as if he says, "I am he! I am cometh!"

How should we respond to this Revelation, to this good news? Luke's passage from today gives us a way: the heavenly host responded to the news by breaking into worship and praise, saying (Luke 2:12 ff), “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!" The shepherds too in (Luke 2:20) “returned, glorifying and praising God..."

Our faith response to this good news of great joy should thus be to worship God, as we are doing right now, with awe, joy and reverence. In fact our ACSA vision statement has as one of its priorities “transformative worship”.

Yes, our faith response should be to worship God and use liturgies, hymns and prayers that transcend our everyday-ness into a realm in which God in Jesus Christ, through the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit, reigns and utters the words, “Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of your liberation.”

The shepherds in our Gospel passage (Luke 2:17), we are told, "Made known (proclaimed) what they had been told and seen, about this child.”

We too are urged to proclaim anew and afresh, in our time and context for all to hear, this good news, this loving and saving act of God in Jesus Christ. This good news cannot be for private consumption only. We need to go out and tell, as we sing occasionally in this cathedral at the top of our voices, the good news that God's kingdom has come!!!

So first, let us in unison create melody as we sing to God, joining the beautiful voices of our choir and the organ accompaniment - as well as those who have worshipped here and are now at rest, and indeed the heavenly host, angels and shepherds - in thanksgiving and praise.

We cannot end here in this safe worship space, we can always start here, old or young, healthy or sickly, poor or rich, and by word as in the letter to Titus, we should also clothe ourselves with all that is more loving and peace-giving towards humanity and the whole of creation. We should, as I have said in the secular media, "peel off those scales in our lives that are old, cynical, tired and negative," and even fearful, and be ready to be light-bearers in God's broken but hopeful world.

In our Gospel reading tonight, the shepherds never sought permission from Emperor Augustus or Governor Quirinius to tell the good news, nor should we in times such as these. The shepherds became new persons, transformed and touched by the news and sight of Jesus Christ.

We too are constantly touched by the mystery of his birth each time we eat his bread and drink his cup until he manifests himself again. So like the shepherds, let this transformative encounter with Jesus Christ in Word, Worship and Sacrament, "compel you to go out and tell the good news."

Go and proclaim the demands for peace with justice and uphold these demands in your lives and community; go and proclaim in loving service the demands for equality, fairness and dignity for all, where the “emperors and governors” in church or state, in business or labour, are corrupt and abusing their power instead of serving God in his people.

As those whose plight God has seen and heard, and also as those fed by the body and blood of our Lord and Saviour, as those who are hearers of the good news tonight, and as those who are empowered for witness and service, we are sent to go and ask God's transformative questions and demand answers for God's sake in his created world.

What shall we ask?

Ask, who is benefitting from the new conflict in South Sudan, from the discord in the Central African Republic, from the killings of Syria, the bombings in Egypt, the xenophobic violence inflicted on economic refugees in our country and continent?

Ask deeper and piercing questions, without fear: about the extent and level of poverty, militarisation and corruption – for when you encounter Jesus Christ, the Comforter, Prince of Peace, the liberator who transforms us, you can never be superficial, nor be the same again.

My message to you is our gift on this special birthday, that we are all being sent to go out then and plead for the cause of the poor, of those without proper sanitation, of those learning in mud schools, the cause of the abused and those affected and infected by HIV and AIDS; for those suffering the pain and humiliation of economic inequality, or those exploited by economic practices. We have to ask, who are the investors and shareholders in exploitative companies, especially in the extractive industries, following the Marikana massacre?

Do not be afraid, for the zeal of the Lord will do this. Good news indeed! You are not alone and so go out, proclaim this celebration of God's utter and unreserved self-giving, the divine Word, mysteriously both human and divine, as the Word transforms your fears and makes you ready to be his salt and light in the here and now.

This birthday gift is a God who transforms us by his presence in our midst and calls us to imitate his holiness.

So let me end by going back to where I started:

Do not be afraid, for the zeal of the Lord will do this; it will enable you to speak for those like the holy family upon whom we are pondering tonight; for those who have no homes, those whose tin and plastic shacks have burnt down today in Valhalla Park, Cape Town, or those who have failed to pay their mortgage instalments and whose only homes the banks have repossessed.

May renewed courage be your gift and special grace this Christmas.

May you yearn earnestly for justice and peace, holiness of life and joy, as you bring his light to this created world.

Finally, may His conception, birth, life, teaching, passion, death, resurrection and ascension transform you and us this day and for evermore.

Amen

+Thabo Cape Town

This text has been updated since first published to reflect the sermon as preached, with minor changes for readability in written form.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Anglicans in Southern Africa Express Concern at Civil Strife in South Sudan

A letter to the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan:

My dear Archbishop Deng

I have read with a heavy heart the news of the outbreaks of fighting in your dearly beloved country, the newest country in the world, and of the appalling loss of life among your people.

It is only recently at our synods that you addressed the people of Southern Africa within the Anglican family and those gathered at my home in Bishopscourt, warning us of the possibility of looming conflict. You urged us to pray and to use whatever diplomatic means we have to ensure peace prevails in your country. You invited us to join the retreat for your peace and reconciliation team, but unfortunately we could not attend. Our Province took a synodical resolution to work with your Province and this we are committed to.

I write today, the Sunday before Christmas, to wish you God's strength and to encourage you as you lead your people at this time, and also to assure you of our prayers for an end to this new conflict. We know too well in South Africa that when conflict assumes ethnic dimensions, it takes on the nature of a ticking bomb which, if it explodes, can wipe huge numbers of God's people off the face of the earth. We have seen ethnic conflict descend into genocide south of your country, where our colleague, Bernard, in Burundi has had to minister in similar situations. We hope that after years of war, your country and people will step back from the brink at this time, mindful of the immense suffering that war has already wrought over the last half century.

We pray for a quick and permanent ceasefire, and that South Sudan will be given an opportunity to grow and to use its God-given oil and other resources for the common good, and not for the benefit of those in power as they seek to manipulate others for their own gain.

May the joy and certainty offered to us at Christmas by the advent of the Prince of Peace surround you and your people even as we strive for an end to war and conflict.

God bless you and your people

+Thabo Cape Town

Photo: Displaced people in the grounds of the Episcopal Cathedral in Juba, South Sudan. (Andrew Green/IRIN)

Friday, 20 December 2013

‘Ad Laos’ – To the People of God - December 2013

My dear People of God

A blessed and joyful Christmas to you all! I am writing this letter in Advent, mindful that most of you will read it now, some of you around Christmas and some, perhaps, after Epiphany. My message will attempt to straddle these seasons in our church’s calendar.

Advent and Christmas, and Epiphany to some extent, are opportune times to look back, and also to look forward – to Christ’s first coming, as a precious and vulnerable baby, and to his coming again, as saviour and liberator, when God’s glory shall be manifested and all his purposes fulfilled.

Of course, there is the “here and now”, coupled with looking back and looking forward in order to complete the “gestalt”. How are we then to respond to Emmanuel – God with us (now), to God’s gift of himself in our earthly pilgrimage?

The celebration of Christmas offers part of an answer to his holy longing – for Christmas is not about wasteful consumerism. It is an echoing of God’s declaration that he loves us so much, our fallibility, warts and all, that he willingly sacrifices himself for us; he forgives our failings, heals our despairing souls, comforts us in our grief, and ushers fresh hope, Jesus Christ, the hope of Glory (Col 1:27).

Christmas then is God’s billboard that declares that we are never alone – God in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit knows what it is to be human, to laugh, to dream, to hurt, to be disappointed, to be betrayed, to be tended to, to be scolded by parents and even to face murder. God the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us and helps us grow in faith, love and peace. Past every milestone until we find rest in our heavenly home, he carries us in the palm of his hand.

As we ponder on the mystery of this vulnerable Christ-child, the incarnate Son of God, let our hearts be touched and transformed by the love of children, and also by the plight of those who suffer: women in abusive relationships, those who suffer as a result of xenophobia and those who are refugees because of war. Let our love and our deep yearning for peace, especially for those in Syria and South Sudan, lead us to commit to action to do all that we can to bring an end to militarisation.

I want to thank God for the outpouring of love and condolences from across our Anglican Communion after the death of Nelson Mandela. I was humbled to receive messages of love and support from the Archbishop of Canterbury, individual parishioners, many bishops and primates from around the Anglican Communion. Your love, prayers and messages of support showed how caring we as Anglicans are and that when one is ailing, we all feel the pain together. Thank you on behalf of ACSA and the Mandela family. (See on my blog the prayers that I shared with the nation and at the Valedictory Service that I led with his family in Mr Mandela’s home just before the public funeral service.)

Looking forward, I commend the Lenten Bible Studies produced by Prof Gerald West, which will be posted both on our Province’s website and on my blog. It is my hope that every diocese and parish will use these Bible studies in 2014, allowing God to speak to us afresh as a Province through these scriptures.

Congratulations to Prof Barney Pityana and the staff and Council of the College of the Transfiguration (Cott) for successfully registering Cott as a Private Higher Education Institution in terms of South Africa’s Higher Education Act of 1997, and for the accreditation of its Diploma in Theology. This is the greatest good news of my archiepiscopacy so far, for which I give thanks to God.

As we ponder this Christmas on the awesome and precious gift of God himself, may the love of God overflow in you and in all those you love; may this love transform all that is unloving in us, in our community and the world over – even as we bring God’s peace to reign in all.

May you have a blessed Christmas as you also find your deepest wants and needs are met in Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate.

Yours in the service of Christ,

+Thabo Cape Town

Lenten Bible Studies for 2014 - by Professor Gerald West

In my Ad Laos for December, I commend the Lenten Bible Studies produced by Professor Gerald West to every diocese and parish for Lent 2014.

I hope they will allow God to speak to us afresh as a Province through these scriptures.

Our Provincial Synod 2010 approved the Vision, Mission and Priorites which are the focus of the studies, and Synod 2013 further endorsed them.

A Vision and Mission for our Church
A Bible Study series for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA)
Compiled and facilitated by Prof Gerald West
shaped by the Bible Study Group of
the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity, Pietermaritzburg


If you have any difficulty downloading this PDF document from Google Docs, it will also be posted on the Province's website.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Valedictory Service for President Mandela at Qunu Homestead


The following is the liturgy used by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at Madiba's home for a service conducted before his remains were handed over to the military for the public funeral at Qunu on Sunday December 15, 2013.


Silence

The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end,
They are new every morning.

The Kyrie (isiXhosa)

Nkosi, senzele inceba.
Kristu, senzele inceba.
Nkosi, senzele inceba.

The Lord's Prayer

Collect for the Day

Almighty God, neither death, nor life can separate us from your love: with the whole company of the redeemed is heaven and earth; we praise and magnify your glorious Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, blessed for ever.

Matthew 5: 3-10

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be children of God
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

Homily

Madiba is dead.

Bathembu, Mr President and Deputy and all gathered in this centre of Madiba's home, the Gospel passage we have just heard assures us that “you are there” when you mourn, for God will comfort you. So I ask God's comfort and strength upon you all as you grieve the death of Madiba even as we gather for this family valedictory service to celebrate this remarkable man.

Many profound tributes have been paid to this outstanding man, who dedicated his life to the service of humanity, the cause of justice and care of creation.

Using today's gospel passage, he thirsted and hungered for righteousness and he is now fulfilled.

BaThembu, Masimkhulule, (Let us release him) to the merciful keeping of God – let us forgive each other where we have erred, or where the nation and world have erred.

Masimkhulule, by pursuing all that makes for peace. Let us never forget the price that he and his friends paid for peace and to get South Africa and the world to be where we are.

He remains a symbol of blessedness, hope, peace, admiration, wisdom, love and goodness. How do we or will we measure up to these qualities?

Ma Graca, Bathembu and all gathered here, may God fill you with his warmth and consolation, may he hold you together and sow love in you. May he strengthen you to grieve and mourn Madiba.

God bless you Ma Machel, Ma Winnie and all gathered here as we move to the final service for Madiba's burial. God bless South Africa and Africa. Amen.

Prayers

Let us now pray before the military takes over.

We give thanks for those who nurtured Madiba, including his father, his mother, the people of Mvezo, and the people of this community of Qunu, including the boys and girls with whom he ran through this beautiful countryside;

We give thanks for those who helped form him in his early days in Johannesburg, for his mentor, Walter Sisulu, and Albertina, for OR Tambo and Adelaide, for the attorneys who gave him his first job in the law, and those who studied with him, such as George Bizos, going on to become lifelong friends.

We give thanks for those, not all of whom shared his politics, who supported him and the cause of liberation while he was on trial and then incarcerated on Robben Island and in Pollsmoor.

The list, Lord, is too long to name all the names, but in a representative capacity we give thanks for:

• The chaplains from the churches who visited him and those with him in prison,

• The chaplains and clergy present here and not who prayed for the family and Madiba throughout his life,

• The lawyers, such as Arthur Chaskalson, Issy Maisels and Duma Nokwe, who defended the leaders of his generation,

• Those such as Helen Suzman and Jacques Moreillon of the International Committee of the Red Cross,who campaigned to ameliorate conditions for him and his fellow prisoners,

• The artists, such as Nadine Gordimer, Hugh Masekela, Caiphas Simenya, Letta Mbulu, Jonas Gwangwa and others, who used their international reputations to support him and our struggle,

• The church leaders who held the torch high while our leaders were imprisoned; people such as Trevor Huddleston, Beyers Naude, Stanley Mogoba and Archbishop Desmond Tutu,

• His friends from the Rivonia trial to his last days, such as Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni and Denis Goldberg,

• For those who cared for him in his last years: the medical professionals, the bodyguards, the drivers, the household staff and the staff of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, from Jakes Gerwel to his dedicated assistant Zelda le Grange;

• Those in the planning committee for this mourning and funeral service, family members, government and others unknown to us, you know them, Lord.

• For all the members of his family, who loved and cared for him, for his spouses, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren: for his first wife, Evelyn; for Winnie - whose defiance constituted an anti-apartheid struggle all of its own; and for Graca, who brought him happiness in his last years and kept faithful vigil to the end.

Finally,

O lord, support us all the day long of this troubled life, until the shadows lengthen,
And the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over,
And our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us safe lodging, a holy rest,
And peace at the last, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We now hand over to the military, Bathembu, in the peace of Christ.

Amen


Friday, 13 December 2013

Prayer at the Memorial Service for Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Johannesburg, 10 December 2013

Let us pray.

Masithandaze.

Are rapeleng.

Laat ons bid.


Creator God, Lord of Life and Love

You hold the whole universe in your hands and

Yet you also number the hairs on all our heads

You know the fates of the nations, and

The hopes and fears of each individual.


On this day of Madiba’s memorial service

We pray for the peace of the world –

for peace without and for peace within.


Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace,

May your Shalom touch every place of conflict, division, brokenness or fear,

May it fill our communities, families and lives.


From the horrors and turmoil of nations in conflict,

to the fractured relationships and

violence of too many homes, bring your reconciling love.


We pray for South Africa in particular on this Memorial Day.

Help us to draw on the best lessons of our past and

build on the firm foundations, that by your grace, Madiba laid for us.


Give us courage to hold fast to his values, to follow the example of his praxis and to share them with the world.


We lift our hearts, with gratitude for your loving care that you have called Madiba home, to his eternal post, where pain and suffering are no more.


We commend his soul to your merciful keeping and his family to your continuous love,


As we pray:


Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world, in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you.

Go home Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God’s people.

We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper.

We now turn to you, Lord, in this hour of darkness, sadness, pain and death, in tears and mourning,

We wail, yet we believe that you will console us, that you will give us the strength to hold in our hearts and minds, and the courage to enact in our lives, the values Madiba fought and stood for.

We turn to you, Lord, and entrust Madiba‘s soul to your eternal rest and loving arms as he re-joins the Madiba clan, his comrades and all the faithful departed.

We pray particularly for his closest and dearest, for Ma Gra├ža Machel, for his children, grandchildren and all his relatives; may you surround them with your loving arms, your fatherly embrace and comfort.

At this dark time of mourning, at this perfect time when you have called him to rest and a perfect end, accept his soul and number him among the company of the redeemed in Heaven.

Console and comfort his family, South Africa, Africa and the world.

May his long walk to freedom be enjoyed and realised in our time by all of us.

MAY HE REST IN PEACE AND RISE IN GLORY!

Amen

+Thabo Cape Town

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Celebrating Madiba’s legacy and its lasting impact around the globe

An excerpt from a homily delivered by the Most Revd. Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, at Holy Cross Church, Nyanga, Cape Town on the Day of Prayer and Reflection for Nelson Mandela on Sunday the 8th December 2013.

On the international stage, the name Nelson Mandela is synonymous with the universal struggle for human rights, freedom and the fight for democracy, issues that resonate just as strongly today as they did when he himself walked free from prison 23 years ago. Today, this Nobel Peace laureate is revered around the world as an inspirational symbol of peace and forgiveness. He acts as a powerful and continuing reminder that individuals do have the power to make change happen in the world, no matter how mighty the obstacles might be. The vision of hope I am talking about from the Romans and Isaiah’s passage read today.

So, how do we celebrate Madiba’s lasting legacy to the world? To some, he is one of the world’s most revered statesmen, who has inspired generations of global citizens through his leadership in the struggle to replace the apartheid regime of South Africa with a multi-racial democracy. This legacy will undoubtedly be one of continuing inspiration. To many, Nelson Mandela is regarded as the greatest statesman in the world. His political leadership steered South Africa through the most difficult time in its history, all the while never succumbing to political pressure, never compromising his ideals or principles, and never pandering to the world’s media. He will go down in history as one of the world’s greatest leaders because of the impact he had, not just on the lives of South Africans, but on the lives of countless people around the world; he has made an irreversible difference to the global fight for democracy and human rights – or put differently the values of the Kingdom or radical hospitality that today’s bible lessons say we must usher in during our time, in the likeness of Christ for God’s glory and for the good of his people and creation.

Since leaving public office, Nelson Mandela has continued to be an inspirational advocate and champion for peace and social justice, both in South Africa and around the world, inspiring change where conflict and human rights abuses still exist. His establishment of highly respected and influential organizations such as the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Elders, an independent group of public figures committed to addressing global problems and easing human suffering, continue to make a difference. Perhaps one of his greatest legacies to both South Africa and the world is his vocal advocacy of AIDS awareness. As far back as 2002, Mandela became a highly vocal campaigner for AIDS awareness and treatment programmes in the country, confronting a culture where the epidemic had for many years been fuelled by a combination of stigma and ignorance. On a personal level, the impact of HIV/Aids was deeply felt as the disease later claimed the life of his son Makgatho in 2005, just as it did the lives of thousands of South African citizens during that period. His inspirational and passionate voice on the subject of AIDS awareness, contributed to the change in attitudes and behaviours being experienced today in the country as South Africa sets its sights on working for an AIDS-free generation.

Over the years, Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the betterment of the world and humanity as a whole has been recognised through the highest accolades, awards and recognition being bestowed upon him, the legacy of which continues today. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on behalf of his country and his people, sharing the 1993 prize with F.W. de Klerk, the last president of the apartheid era who worked with Mandela to end the scourge of apartheid. He was the recipient of the prestigious U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Order of Canada, becoming the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen. Nelson Mandela is also the last person to have been awarded the rare Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union, and the Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John and the Order of Merit, awarded to him by Britain’s Elizabeth II. There are many more prestigious awards that would take too much to mention during this service – we are grateful to God that the human family saw it fit to these honours bestow upon this son of our soil, Madiba.

Perhaps his greatest legacy can be summed up as the continual inspiration he has provided – as the one leader who has worked tirelessly to make change happen by appealing to people’s common humanity, and by leading by example – to many other leaders around the world who are still trying to achieve such change in their own political and social environments. Past US President, Bill Clinton, has said of the impact Madiba has had on him personally over the years: “More than any human being, Madiba has been the great inspiration for the life I lead and the work I do, especially in the area of HIV/AIDS... In return for everything Madiba has taught us, we each owe it to him to support his work and legacy by doing and living our own as best we can... throughout our entire lives."

The current US President, Barack Obama, recognises the impact that Nelson Mandela has had on the world, calling him as an inspiration who has given everything to his people. Speaking on Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July last year, he said: “Madiba continues to be a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation. On behalf of the people of the United States, we congratulate Nelson Mandela, and honor his vision for a better world”.

Ultimately, Mandela’s legacy exemplifies wisdom, strength and grace in the face of adversity and great challenge, and demonstrates to all citizens of the world that there is a viable path to follow towards achieving justice, reconciliation and democracy, and that change can happen through individual and collective acts of service. Through his example, he has set the standard for service to country and mankind worldwide, whether we are individual citizens, cabinet ministers or presidents, and continues to call on us all to better serve our fellow human beings and contribute to the betterment of our communities.

Today, Madiba is thought of as Father or Tata to all South Africans but, to the rest of the world, he is undoubtedly thought of as one of the outstanding heroes of the last century, alongside other inspirational global leaders such as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Each of these individuals was committed to the global struggle for human dignity, equality and democracy, and Madiba still remains a beacon of hope and an inspiration for those around the world who are still fighting for their freedom and for justice. As we look back and learn from Nelson Mandela’s own long walk to freedom and reflect on his life-long dedication to instilling the values of Ubuntu, integrity and learning, his legacy is an inspiring one. It will continue to inspire generations of people to come who themselves want to change the world and make it a better place in which all citizens can live and thrive.

May Madiba’s soul rest in peace. May his nearest and dearest be comforted and consoled and may we continue where he has left, the LORD being our helper.

And may this account of this fallible one man, not a saint but a hopeful and whole person, loving person and dare I say a holy man, inspire us to serve God in others and God’s creation till we too are called to God’s rest and are given a perfect end.


Friday, 6 December 2013

A Prayer for Madiba

Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world, in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you.

Go home Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God’s people.

We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper.

We now turn to you, Lord, in this hour of darkness, sadness, pain and death, in tears and mourning,

We wail, yet we believe that you will console us, that you will give us the strength to hold in our hearts and minds, and the courage to enact in our lives, the values Madiba fought and stood for.

We turn to you, Lord, and entrust Madiba’s soul to your eternal rest and loving arms as he rejoins the Madiba clan, his comrades and all the faithful departed.

We pray particularly for his closest and dearest, for Ma Graca Machel, for his children, grandchildren and all his relatives; may you surround them with your loving arms, your fatherly embrace and comfort.

At this dark time of mourning, at this perfect time when you have called him to rest and a perfect end, accept his soul and number him among the company of the redeemed in Heaven.

Console and comfort his family, South Africa and the world.

May his long walk to freedom be enjoyed and realised in our time by all of us.

MAY HE REST IN PEACE AND RISE IN GLORY!

Amen

* Thabo Cape Town

Monday, 2 December 2013

A Letter to Mozambique and Angola

December 1, 2013

Dear People of the Dioceses of Lebombo, Niassa and Angola,

On behalf of the whole Province, I want to express our sorrow and shock at the accident involving LAM Mozambique Airlines flight no. TM470 and the deaths of all those on board.

We send our condolences to the bereaved and our prayers to you all. We hope that the investigation now under way will establish why the accident happened - although knowing the cause will not bring loved ones back, it is important to know the cause so that remedial action can be taken in future to prevent a repeat.

God bless you and your nations at this time of mourning,

+Thabo Cape Town