Friday 26 December 2014

Listen to Archbishop Thabo's sermon for Christmas

This year you can listen to and download the sermon preached by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at midnight Mass at St. George's Cathedral.

You can also click here for the SABC Television news report on YouTube, or scroll down for the full text of the sermon.

Thursday 25 December 2014

Television news report: St. George's Cathedral Midnight Mass - Christmas 2014

A news report by SA Broadcasting Corporation's television news, December 25. The full text of the sermon appears in the next post below:

The SABC's online text report:

Makgoba preaches against inequalities

Thursday 25 December 2014 07:30


Anglican Arch Bishop Thabo Makgoba says South Africa has become a society that has not only inherited massive inequalities, but also accepts the continuation of inequalities.

Makgoba was preaching during a Midnight Mass at the St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town which ended at 12.30am.

He used his annual Christmas sermon to highlight what he calls a new struggle in South Africa.

According to Makgoba, “We have become a mere driven society which accepts and perpetuates the cruel weight of massive inequality we have inherited.”

He adds that South African society accepts economic inequality, service delivery inequality, healthcare inequality, education inequality and most seriously, the inequality of opportunities.

Makgoba further says South Africa has become a country that has forgotten to become courageous. He told the congregation that South Africans can only become anti-corrupt if they are pro-courage.

In Makgoba's words,"Courage is like fire, it was courage which ignited the old struggle and kept it burning until we emerged from the darkness of apartheid."

He adds: “Courage enables us to set ourselves, our community and our nation on fire and it is the light of courage that we need to rekindle this Christmas. The South Africa that I have lived in, in the last years, has forgotten to be courageous.

"We have allowed ourselves to live in and accept a society that is punished, penalised and severely disciplined for being courageous."

Welcome the Season of Light by Becoming a Society of Long Spoons

A sermon for Christmas 2014, St George's Cathedral, Cape Town:

Luke 2:1-20

May I speak in the name of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen

A couple of days after my birthday earlier this month, our children drove me up Signal Hill. As usual there were a lot of people up there and, as the children wandered around the hill, I stood watching the sea. It was dusk, the sea was calm and it seemed to be enveloping us. As I looked out, the intermittent flashing of the Robben Island lighthouse could not be missed, and I could not resist the temptation to recall that the island from which that tiny light was flashing was where Madiba and his compatriots languished in darkness for years. Yet this is where the hope of our country was ignited. And as the sun set and it grew darker, the tiny light became even more visible than before.

Our Gospel reading evokes an image of how in the midst of crowds readying themselves for the Roman census, the light of the world, the hope of the world, Jesus is born. God becomes vulnerable, human to illumine our world. God is to be “numbered” or counted, unknown to those who will take the census. We now know the barriers that these lights broke, the tiny light flashing from the island but reaching the top of Signal Hill, and the light and hope born in a stable reflecting God's glory.

And that is where I would like to begin tonight, by welcoming the hope that Christmas brings. The American poet Maya Angelou, who died this past year, once wrote a description of love on her Facebook page which we can appropriate as a perfect metaphor for the advent of the Christ child in our world. Substituting the word “Christmas” for the word “love”, we can read it like this: “Christmas recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” And hope, as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu once said, “is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

But hope, as the South African theologian, Denise Ackermann, says, “is not that blithe sense that all will end well (or alles sal regkom) because human progress is guaranteed.” To say as Christians that we must live in hope does not imply that we should sit by passively and indulge in wishful thinking for that which has no prospect of being realized to come about. As Denise Ackermann says, “The way I hope should be the way I live. To live out my hope is to try to make that which I hope for come about – sooner rather than later.” It is “a lived reality in the life of faith, here and now.” It is “never to surrender our power to imagine a better world”. Hope confronts wrong and the abuse of power; it is risky and requires patience and endurance.

In our national life, it’s been a difficult year for South Africa. Many times in our daily lives we seem to have been living in a country whose leaders, despite the emancipation of democracy, do not look after the needs of their people.  Much of the time those leaders don't seem to have a vision, or any sense of destiny – or even a practical plan they are truly committed to implementing. In what I call the “old” struggle – the struggle for democracy – it was the ability of our leaders to see “the light” ahead that drove them. Nowadays, the new generation of leaders seems to govern without any sense of being guided by that light, or for that matter any light at all. In fact, I get confused by the darkness that our leaders bring as the sun rises every morning.

But did Madiba ever lose a sense of hope in the way I have just described it? Did Robert Sobukwe lose hope? Did Oliver Tambo lose hope? Did Steve Biko? Or Beyers Naude, or Trevor Huddleston? Did my ancestor, Kgoši Mamphoku Makgoba, who was killed while resisting settler incursions on our land, lose hope? We can look and learn from the lives of all of our anti-apartheid heroes and say none of them ever, ever lost hope.

But there is another characteristic they shared that is particularly powerful in converting hope to reality, and that is courage. Courage is like fire. It was courage which ignited the old struggle and kept it burning until we emerged from the darkness of apartheid. Courage enables us to set ourselves, our community and our nation on fire. And it's the light of courage that we need to rekindle this Christmas.

The South Africa that I have been living in these last years has forgotten how to be courageous. We have allowed ourselves to live in and accept a society that is punished, penalized and severely disciplined for being courageous. I had the privilege of being asked by Mama Graça Machel over the last few years of Madiba's life to visit them every now and then in Bishopscourt, in Houghton and in Qunu, and to pray with them. My time with him reminded me of so many of the lessons which he tried to share with us, but none was more important than that encapsulated in these words, which have inspired so many:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

He also reminded me that it also takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. So with his wisdom as guidance, I want to share with you some thoughts for the holidays on this Christmas Eve.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.” And I might add, courage. Courage and light can break the cycle of poverty, crime and the growing underclass of young people ill equipped to be productive citizens. Only light will enable to us to be repulsed enough by what we see around us to say, “My children and grandchildren deserve better.”  Only by being pro-courage can we really be anti-corruption. We truly begin living when we say, “Enough is enough and I want more for my family, my community and my country!” It's at that moment that we step up and take responsibility for not only ourselves but for our country's destiny. It's at that moment that, as I have been saying recently, that we stop being a country of “me” and become a country of “we”.

Our purpose on earth is for all of us to become part of something bigger than ourselves. But we are not living as if we believe that. We become so discouraged about the injustices we see everywhere that we give up and say, “That’s their problem.” We have become a “me”-driven society which accepts and perpetuates the cruel weight of the massive inequalities we have inherited; a “me” society which accepts economic inequality, the service delivery inequality, the healthcare inequality, the education inequality and most seriously, the inequality of opportunity.

At this time of the year, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, how do we channel the joyousness, the spirit of feeling connected with one another into a spirit of reflection which empowers us to focus not on the “me” but rather on the “we”- the body of Christ?  How can we use the model of this month's behaviours, attitudes and convictions to define how we live the other 11 months of the year?

The fundamental question being asked of us in South Africa today is: What is the difference between an open-hearted, giving society and an open-handed, taking society? I’d like to ask the question a little differently: What is the difference between an open-hearted life where we see ourselves part of a greater collective community (which I will call heaven on earth) and an open-handed life in which we accept social income without accepting the responsibility for our decisions (which I will describe as hell)?

The answer lies in the Parable of the Long Spoons. It is said that both in heaven and in hell, people are forced to eat with long spoons. In hell, people starve because they are unable to lift food to their mouths using such unwieldy cutlery. But in heaven, each person takes the long spoon and feeds another across the table. And that's how in heaven God ensures, through the actions of those there with him, that everyone has plenty to eat.

In the end, the message is that we should feed, respect and care for each other, both in a practical and collective sense. That is what a genuine community of communities does. Because that is what we are: a community of communities, the baptised – the body of Christ as Paul says. Another word for it is a nation; a “we” society. This is our challenge if we are to channel the joy of this birth as recorded in Luke’s gospel, into the joy of a lifetime.

Many feel that for our nation to have survived under apartheid and to have been reborn was a once-in-a-lifetime miracle. I used to believe that. But not anymore. Our achievements have been gained through struggle, guided by hope and following the light. In our faith, that light is Jesus, who at this time breaks into our lives and gives us courage to break all barriers.

So this Christmas let us commit ourselves to a new struggle; a new struggle for a new generation; a struggle to end the economic inequities and related consumerism, to end the inequalities of service delivery, health care and education – but most of all a struggle to bring about equality of opportunity. Human progress is never guaranteed unless there is struggle. Every step we take towards the goal of ending inequality requires sacrifice, requires suffering, and most of all requires struggle. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. The good news is, as Christians we struggle with a firm hope, that Christ our light and our hope, has already triumphed and broken all barriers.

So whether “in this Roman census”, you are recorded as being 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 years old, the question is, do you have the courage to take up this challenge? Are you ready to define your children's destinies? Then, metaphorically speaking, light up your lamps and become bearers of hope this Christmas season.

God bless you, your family and South Africa, and may you have a blessed Christmas.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Archbishop Thabo's Reflection on the Fourth Sunday in Advent

The final reflection on Advent 2014.

Readings: 2 Samuel 7: 1-11 & 16; Romans 16: 25-27; The Song of Mary (Magnificat); Luke 1: 26-38

Monday 15 December 2014

Call to prayer on year's mind of Madiba's burial

As we commemorate the day we brought Madiba's body to its final resting place, we continue to pray for both his immediate family and those in the broader human family who were inspired by the example of his self-sacrifice in the pursuit of human freedom and his values of hope and reconciliation in building a better world.

May we strive to fashion our responses to pain and inequality with courage and determination to change these, even as Christ our Lord.

+Thabo Cape Town 

Thursday 11 December 2014

Listen to Archbishop Thabo's reflection on the Third Sunday in Advent

Gospel reading: John 1: 6-8, 19-28 (text below)

John 1:

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ 21 And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ 22 Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ 23 He said,
‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord” ’,
as the prophet Isaiah said.

24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ 26 John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Monday 8 December 2014

Archbishop Makgoba on the deaths of Pierre Korkie and Luke Somers

Sad and shocked at the death of Pierre Korkie, we in the Anglican Church send our condolences to his wife, Yolande, and their family.

As we mourn his death and that of Luke Somers, we call on all nations involved to expose those who maintain the extremism of groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. We need to ask who benefits from their terror tactics and what is missing in our efforts to end such hostage-taking and killing. And we need also to address the grievances which fuel such extremism.

May the hope of Advent prevail and surround the world.

+Thabo Cape Town

Thursday 4 December 2014

Listen to Archbishop Thabo's reflection on the Second Sunday in Advent

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's reflection on Advent II.

Readings: Isaiah 40: 1-11; Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3: 8-15a; Mark 1:1-8

To the Laos – To the People of God, Christmas 2014

Dear People of God

We have an exciting innovation from Bishopscourt this Advent, in which I am sharing with you, the laos (or laity), reflections on the Advent readings which you can listen to online or by podcast. This is a fascinating process, and for the first Sunday in Advent, I reflected on the fact that in spite of the challenges we have in our different walks of life, God has a plan for each of us. We dare not despair. We need to face some of those principalities, some of the things that wear us down, with that strong sense of hope conveyed by the literal meaning of the word “advent”, which is “arrival”. Ultimately, the Son of the living God through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ does triumph over all.

I have recently returned from a busy and inspirational pastoral visit to the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, where I saw in various ways what God is up to in the diocese. (I recommend that you look at the special issue of their newsletter, iindaba.) What impressed me was to see how Port Elizabeth – like many dioceses, but I am referring here specifically here to Port Elizabeth – is wrestling with the implications of what God is up to in their part of the country. They are working ecumenically with other churches and with the city to make the Nelson Mandela Metro a place where God is really found, in spite of the many problems they share in common with the rest of South Africa. I was especially touched by the hope I encountered among HIV positive people at the House of Resurrection Children’s Home, a haven for children who have been affected in some way by HIV and Aids or abandoned.

Back in Cape Town, I was intrigued by a visit to The Warehouse – an outreach ministry of St. John’s Parish in Wynberg – for an exhibition focussing on art, poetry and stories around the theology of water and sanitation. It really demonstrated strongly the need for us to be visible, particularly among those who are living without running water or proper sanitation. The exhibition may have concentrated on the Western Cape, but when I go to Angola, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia I see that the same deficiencies are prevalent across Southern Africa. And we know the related ills that arise from the problem, among them illnesses and women and girl children being raped while fetching water.

I am writing this as we observe our 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence and following the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. I want to echo the message of Tearfund, Anglican Alliance, Hope Africa and our Province that we should encourage everyone not to be silent but to speak out when women and children are being abused, and I encourage all our churches to work actively to create safe spaces for victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking.

I was particularly moved by one of the events I attended this year, when I heard the story of a girl, Nadia, who is a survivor of human trafficking. She was abducted from her home at the age of 14. By the age of 16, she had had two children as a result of the abuse she suffered. As she told her story and read a “survivor’s poem” we were all reduced to tears. Her story was painful in itself but what was more piercing was when she said:

“Please do me a favour – smile with me. Because your smile and your hope and your determination make me stronger. If you collapse and cry with me, you make my wounds too deep.”

And so Nadia’s story will remain with me as I continue to reflect on the Incarnate Christ in our lives, and His redemptive love, shared by Nadia, who has all the reason in the world to be angry but who challenged us to smile with her. I think that is in Nadia that our Christmas message lies this year: that despite being raped, exiled, abducted, trafficked and abused, the Christ Child emerges and offers us that hope which supersedes all human understanding.

My prayer this Advent and Christmas is that we will look at some of the seemingly hopeless situations in our world, for example situations that marginalize the other or destroy the environment. We might focus on water and sanitation as highlighted by The Warehouse in Wynberg, or by the international conference that I’ve just attended in India on the need for global intervention on the same issue; or on women and girl children who are abused in families or live in areas where toilets and water are far from their homes. Let’s think on these things, then choose just one and offer it to God in prayer this Christmas, asking the Christ Child to surround us with his peace and justice as we take action to eliminate the problem.

By the time most of you read this, we will have commemorated the first anniversary of the death of Madiba and again celebrated his life. May his belief and determination that individual or collective acts of goodwill actually do bring about change, inspire us to work for peace and justice in our time. For this is also the Gospel imperative.

May you have a blessed Christmas !

God bless you,
+Thabo Cape Town

Friday 28 November 2014

Listen now! Archbishop Thabo's first online Advent reflection

The first of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's reflections on Advent.

Readings: Isaiah 64:1–9; Ps 80:1–7, 17–19; 1 Cor 1:3–9; Mark 13:24-37

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Archbishop to deliver "online" Advent reflections on the web

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is to "broadcast" a series of Advent reflections over the internet in the pilot programme of a planned audio ministry for the Church.

The reflections will be available online on his blog, and through church websites, from one or two days before each Sunday in Advent.

"Communication is part and parcel of the glue which binds the Church together," he said when announcing the pilot.

"We have bishops, theologians and others in the Church who have gifts in audio ministry which until now have not been used properly because of the limited opportunities on radio.

"But now the internet makes it feasible to make material available 'on-demand' easily and cheaply using technology which is accessible to all.

"I hope that as we develop our communication strategies in the Province and the dioceses, we can integrate audio ministry into an integrated range of initiatives, from the Provincial website and the new online 'Southern Anglican' to the E-Reader project based at Bishopscourt."

You can listen to the Advent reflections online on Soundcloud, or download them to listen to later by clicking on the Download button.

Click on the Play button below to hear the Archbishop sketch his vision for the new ministry.

Show Solidarity with Families of Victims of Lagos Building Collapse

Response to the repatriation of bodies from Lagos on November 16: 
We are grateful that the bodies of many of those who died in the collapse of a guesthouse in Lagos have been repatriated. Please continue to pray for the families until all are back and buried.

All of those who died belong to communities of which we are a part - especially those from worshipping Christian communities. So as well as praying for them, please offer a caring and supportive presence to anyone affected and let us show our solidarity by attending services if they are held in our part of the country.
+Thabo Cape Town

Thursday 13 November 2014

Archbishop Makgoba calls for prayer for return of bodies from Lagos

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has called for prayers for the successful repatriation of the bodies of South Africans who died in the Lagos building collapse two months ago.

He was responding to the announcement by the Minister in the Presidency, Mr Jeff Radebe, that the bodies will be returned this weekend "if everything goes well."

The Archbishop said:

"I appeal for special prayers for the families who have died, who have had to wait far too long for this moment.

"We pray Godspeed for the families as they receive the remains of their loved ones and thank the South African Government for all they have done to resolve the problems in Lagos which prevented repatriation earlier."

Archbishop Makgoba also re-issued this prayer for people of faith to use until the bodies are returned.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Archbishop sends condolences to families of sports heroes; calls for destruction of illegal guns

The text of a statement issued by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba on Sunday:

(South African soccer chief Danny Jordaan is reported to have told a memorial service for Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa - who was killed in a robbery, Olympic athlete Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and boxer Phindile Mwelase that "we must take those guns to the furnace and build a statue for Senzo Meyiwa.”)

Thousands of Christians and people of other faiths are praying today for the families of our sports heroes. Our heartfelt condolences go out to them.

Their deaths could not have come at a worse time for our nation, coming as they do while dozens of other families endure an agonising wait for the bodies of their loved ones to be repatriated from Lagos after the church guest house collapse. We hope that happens soon now.

I support Danny Jordaan fully in his call for a drive against illegal weapons. We need a major intervention to curb violence and the use of guns in South Africa.

We should beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning-hooks by collecting illegal guns across the country, melting them down in furnaces, and turning them into objects which stand for peace.

Monday 27 October 2014

South Africa's New Struggle - Beyers Naude Memorial Lecture

A keynote address by the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, as part of the Beyers Naude Memorial Lecture Series at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University:

Vice-Chancellor, staff, students, members of the Kagiso Trust, members of the university community and of the wider Nelson Mandela Bay community: Good evening!

I am thrilled and honoured to be among you to give a lecture named for Beyers Naude, or “Oom Bey” as we knew him in the church community, in the framework of your current university theme of “promoting critical consciousness”. I have entitled my lecture tonight “South Africa's New Struggle,” and it is the example and inspiration of Beyers Naude which has emboldened me to address you on this topic.

Why do I say that? Let me start by telling you a little bit about Beyers Naude. Oom Bey was born into a staunchly Afrikaner Nationalist household. In fact his name spoke to the strength of this heritage. He wrote in his autobiography, “My Land van Hoop” (My Land of Hope), of how, if his parents had followed Afrikaner tradition, they would have named him after his maternal grandfather. But he was born soon after many Nationalists rebelled against the government at the outbreak of World War I in 1914 when the new Union government ordered them to fight against the Germans in what is now Namibia. One of those who died during that rebellion was General Christiaan Frederick Beyers, a famous Boer fighter and a former comrade-in-arms of Oom Bey's father. As a result, instead of being named after his grandfather, Beyers was named Christiaan Frederick Beyers Naude. His father later became a founding member and the first president of the Afrikaner Broederbond, and Beyers wrote of his enormous pride in becoming a member of that secret society in 1940 after he followed his father into the ministry of the white Dutch Reformed Church.

When the Sharpeville Massacre happened in 1960, Beyers was thus deeply immersed in the Afrikaner Nationalist community. But Sharpeville unleashed a series of developments in the churches which led to them repudiating apartheid and eventually to him resigning both from the Broederbond and his ministry, forcing him to step down from high office in his church. In a famous sermon preached to his congregation of Aasvoëlkop near Johannesburg in 1963, he used as his text the passage from the Acts of the Apostles (5:29), in which Peter and the apostles told the authorities at the temple in Jerusalem: “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” Beyers, faced with an ultimatum to decide between the Christian Institute — an anti-apartheid group which he had formed — and his position in the Dutch Reformed Church, told his congregation that his choice was between obedience to his faith and obeying church authority. If he unconditionally obeyed the church, he said, “I would save face but I would lose my soul.”

Beyers went on to face 20 years of harassment and attack by apartheid and its supporters. After the killing of Steve Biko in 1977, Beyers, a number of his co-workers and the Christian Institute itself were banned on Black Wednesday, October 19. But perhaps most important, he was cast out of his community, ostracised and vilified by his own people. The reason that I emphasise this is that although Beyers would have been the first to say that he escaped the intensity of the persecution visited upon black activists and fighters against apartheid, he experienced a unique kind of suffering — that of the rejection of the people among whom he had grown up and was living. He was not living in a community which was suffering together and therefore of like mind in deciding to act together. He had to turn around and confront his own people for the suffering they were causing others. So the quality in Beyers Naude that I want to highlight as exemplary tonight is his courage in speaking out against wrong when it was being perpetrated by people from within his own community.

In South Africa, we have made enormous strides in the last 20 years. We have a wonderful Constitution which not only protects our rights but says we are entitled to expect everything else which we count as achievements since our political liberation: the provision of housing, sanitation, water and electricity. We have hundreds and thousands of new houses and many new clinics. We really showed the world what we are capable of when we hosted the 2010 World Cup: the new stadiums, the upgraded airports and the improved roads. In areas where we have replaced mud schools, the new schools are first class.

Yet we all know that we are not where we should be, and that we face huge and growing obstacles to getting there. Our nation is surviving, but not thriving. Despite having perhaps the best constitution in Africa, the principles of democracy are being challenged every day. Despite two decades of progress, we have to acknowledge that there is widespread consensus that for the most part, our country is still not healthy, inequality is everywhere and there is an almost toxic pollution of public confidence and trust. The levels of inequality in our society are shocking. There are huge differences between the development of the wealthy parts of our cities and that nearly everywhere else. We live with massive disparities of income, largely based on race but increasingly based on whether you have made it into the middle class. Black economic empowerment in many instances is contributing to inequality rather than closing the gap between rich and poor. We are failing in our efforts to eliminate the desperate conditions in which many of our people live, creating potential for an explosion of anger if we do not move fast. The Department of Human Settlements reported last year that we still have a backlog of about 2.1-million houses. Even if people have houses, about 2.5 million of them don't have proper toilets. My children are embarrassed because I call myself the “toilet archbishop”, so determined am I to campaign for adequate sanitation for our people.

How did we get here? And where do we go from here?

First, let us acknowledge that the Church has failed to act with the courage that Beyers Naude showed, and to speak out when we have seen our political leaders failing. We have tried to work within our democracy by engaging with its institutions and following paths laid down for consultation and dialogue. That has been the right thing to do — but not at the cost of losing our prophetic voice. Beyers Naude, despite joining the first ANC delegation to meet the apartheid government in 1990, was clear that the churches needed to keep our prophetic voice. He said in 1996:

“People tend to say that now that we have a new government, now that we have a new Constitution, now that we have solved our political problems, for the time being, there is no prophetic role for the Church at the moment. I think [Beyers went on to say, that] such a perception is a very serious mistake.”

We have committed the mistake that Beyers warned us against. We have too often silenced ourselves by practising quiet diplomacy with those in authority, flattered by access to power and ready too quickly to acquiesce when we hear how difficult their task is. In the apartheid era, courage enabled students to ignore bullets and guns and to risk their lives to work for the ideal caring, compassionate society we dreamed of. But courage is fast dissipating in our society, fear seems to be enveloping all of us and if courageous voices don't speak out, there is no one to provide our ruling elite with a moral compass.

When our political leaders realised that they could not meet their well-intentioned promises, when they realized the assumptions which they had used to formulate a national vision had changed, they failed to be transparent and honest and to tell us that. Instead of treating us as adults, they began throwing blame around, pointing fingers and perpetuating fear. Fear has become the dominant emotional driver on many of our country's stages. Fear keeps us focussed on the past and worried about the future. Fear stifles our thinking and actions. Fear creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. Every day we see talented people, leaders in all walks of life who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.

We have to bring to an end the failure of white South Africans to speak their minds, because when they keep silent for fear of being branded racists, they fail to contribute to solving our problems. We have to bring to an end the failure of black South Africans to speak their minds, because when they keep quiet for fear that white racists will exploit differences between blacks, they too fail to help solve our problems. Our future lies in our ability to rise above all of this. Haven't we languished down in the trough of despair and fear for too long already? It's been said: “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”7

The most egregious threat to our democracy today is the insidious cancer of corruption. An alarming number of people are venturing down a path that promises short-term financial gain, embracing opportunities to enrich themselves and their families at the expense of their community and our nation. I cannot say it any more simply than that corruption is anti-democracy.

The late Neville Alexander put it this way in a book published last year, where he said that “our real concerns are the palpable signs of social breakdown all around us: the ever more blatant examples of greed and corruption involving public figures, who are expected to be the role models for youth…. the smug dishonesty, indiscipline and slothfulness of those who are paid to render services; the lack of respect for life- preserving rules.” He added, “in short, the mayhem and apparently suicidal chaos that ordinary people experience in their daily lives.”

Let's get some myths about corruption out of the way.

My Roman Catholic counterpart in Cape Town, Archbishop Stephen Brislin, has pointed out that corruption is not something new in South Africa; it is not something that has emerged only after our liberation. In a contribution to a booklet called Interfaith Reflections on the Fight Against Corruption, he notes that, and I quote, “the colonial past and our apartheid past were both highly corrupt systems.” He also points out that corruption is not only an issue affecting governments and politics. He writes: “[T]his is clearly untrue, as corruption can and does affect every level of society — business, corporations, NGOs and indeed churches themselves.” So, while all of must be concerned about corruption, no institution can be holier-than-thou about it.

Next, I am really puzzled by what President Zuma and his lawyers are reported to have argued in representations to the National Prosecuting Authority some years ago. According to City Press, which has seen an NPA analysis dealing with Mr Zuma's reasoning as to why he should not be charged:

“One of the reasons President... Zuma believed criminal charges against him relating to the arms deal should be dropped was because corruption is only a crime in a 'Western paradigm'. And even if it was a crime, [Mr] Zuma’s lawyers apparently argued, it was a crime where there are ‘no victims’.”

If this is the case, we have to ask what values — whether they be cultural, constitutional or faith-based values — the President and his lawyers used to come to that conclusion. Contrast what is reported to be their thinking with the following statement identifying who suffers from corruption:

“[Corruption] means that the state pays a higher price than it should, which takes money away from education or health care for the poor. Or it means the state accepts a poorer quality hospital or road or housing unit, which endangers the welfare of the population and particularly the poorest citizens who so often rely on that hospital or house. It is as simple as that.”

That statement was made by Mr Zuma's Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel, in a contribution to the same booklet I referred to a few moments ago. The title of Mr Patel's article is: “Fighting Corruption is a Fight For Social Justice.” I couldn't have put it better myself.

And what can they be talking about if they are saying corruption is a Western paradigm? Presumably, this means that cracking down on corruption is somehow a Western phenomenon which is not appropriate in Africa. Actually, I think it's the other way around. Corruption is a two-way street, a two-way transaction. For corruption to happen, you have to have a corrupter, someone willing to pay the bribe, and what I will call a “corruptee”, someone willing to take a bribe. For Africans, over the 50 or 60 years since liberation, the Western paradigm — if indeed there can be said to be one — is one in which Westerners have been the corrupters, and African elites the corruptees.

Let's turn away from talk of Western paradigms, and look for an African paradigm. We need go no further than a declaration adopted by Africa's heads of state and government at a summit in Maputo in 2003. Its title is AFRICAN UNION CONVENTION ON PREVENTING AND COMBATING CORRUPTION.

In the Preamble to the Convention, the African leaders of government say, and again I quote, that they are “concerned about the negative effects of corruption and impunity on the political, economic, social and cultural stability of African States and its devastating effects on the economic and social development of the African peoples.” Clearly, they agree with Minister Patel. (As an aside, might I ask our President: Does he?)

In Article Three of the Convention, signatory states say they will abide by the following principles: 
  • “Respect for democratic principles and institutions, popular participation, the rule of law and good governance.
  •  “Respect for human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.  
  • “Transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs.
  • “Promotion of social justice to ensure balanced socio-economic development,” and finally:
  • “Condemnation and rejection of acts of corruption, related offences and impunity.”

The Convention goes on to describe in detail the acts of corruption to which it applies, which I won't read here, but in case you are interested I will append the text to the copy of this speech on my blog, as well as a link to the Convention.

Corruption is paralysing progress across South Africa today. We all know about the high-profile cases which dominate the headlines, whether they concern Nkandla or provincial departments here in the Eastern Cape. But for every one of those cases, there are many more — I am sure it is thousands across the country — which go unreported. The moral compasses guiding our leaders and public servants are misaligned.

Corruption contaminates, pollutes and degrades our Constitution. In behavioural terms, if you are pro-democracy, you must also be anti-corruption. If you behave corruptly or make a corrupt decision, you are opening the door to losing the fight for democracy. I was once told by an elder that we each have two wolves in our lives, representing our conscience. We have one wolf on our left shoulder and one on our right. Each of them whispers into an ear. And the wolf that we feed is the one that survives.

I believe in the separation of Church and State. But we have forgotten the bond between our religion and democracy. We in the churches have been surprised by suggestions from politicians in recent years that we should refrain from commenting on political issues. Leaders of the liberation movements had no problem when the Church was involved in politics in the apartheid era. But now that those leaders are in power, some of them are using the same language as the leaders of the apartheid government. I believe that Church and State have a dual responsibility in which we must each play our role, and religion plays a pivotal role in stabilizing and strengthening our democracy.

Why and how critical is religion is to the functioning of democracy? The reason democracy works is not because the government is designed to oversee everything everyone does, or ensure that every need is met. Democracy works because most people most of the time choose voluntarily to obey the law and therefore to work within structures and parameters designed to ensure that we find consensus and agreed mechanisms for making decisions. In my life I have been blessed to travel across Africa and also visit many democracies around the world, and I have made one key observation: those who attend church, synagogue, mosque, temple regularly, and are taught by religious leaders whom they respect and who teach values-based decision making, overwhelming voluntarily follow a deeply personal set of values and also all of their countries' constitutions, rules and laws.

They operate on a very simple principle: decisions based on sound values are good decisions, and good decisions have good consequences. Decisions based on bad or non-existent values are bad decisions and produce bad consequences. Or to put it very simply: people know that even if the police don't catch them, God will catch them. So their fundamental values become: be honest in everything you do; respect other people's property; celebrate the differences in people; and never take something from someone else that is not yours or that you have not earned. It's what I might call values-based religion. Without values-based religion as a foundation, no society can work. Democracy will not work. If CEOs don't follow values-based honesty, business will fail to achieve its critical role in society. The government can try to police everyone, but it's hard and there is no way to police honesty.

Too many organizations are trying to push religion out of the country's focus and public eye. Faith bodies are the very institutions that protect our civil rights. If religion loses its authority over the lives of South Africans, what will happen to our democracy? Where are the institutions that will teach the next generation that they must voluntarily obey the law because it's always the right time to do what's right? If you take away religion, you cannot hire enough police!

We can do better in South Africa. We must do better. And we will do better if we ask ourselves, our family, our neighbours and our country: What are our values? Why are they neglected in public life? We need to rediscover the core values of our struggle and then we must live by those values. Our political leaders must start to focus on making value-based decisions.

But it's not only up to the politicians and the faith community: the whole of society, not least those of you in the educational and academic community, must play our part in bringing about what I have previously called a “Renaissance of Trust and Responsibility”. The former Truth and Reconciliation commissioner Alex Boraine suggests that civil society played a key role under apartheid, and that under what he refers to as a “failing state”, civil society remains equally important. In assessing what has gone wrong with South Africa's transformation process, Renier Koegelenberg, the Stellenbosch expert on religion and community development, argues similarly that the responsibility lies with all of us — government, business, trade unions, citizens and civil society — and the sooner the governing elite realizes this, the better the prognosis for South Africa.

In fact, the government’s own “National Development Plan 2030” acknowledges the importance of all South Africans working together, stating that “South Africa needs leaders that work together. To successfully implement the NDP, the ountry needs partnerships across society working towards a common purpose.”

As we enter the third decade of our democracy, we must reflect on what we can learn from our country's “great struggle” of the last century and ask: Are we not again confronting the reality that we can achieve equality only if we embark on a second “great struggle”, the “New Struggle” of my lecture title?

In some ways, we stand where we stood 20, 30 and 40 years ago. Many of us seem to operate in separate spheres, held apart from one another in the silos in which lived and worked before 1994. Or where we have tried to break out of the old patterns, we have made wrong decisions, or failed to take decisions at all, and hence the pervasive inequality persists. Despite the changes, despite the talk, despite the policies we advocate, disadvantaged South Africans and Southern Africans are still suffering from inequality.

Our families and children still experience inequality in education; our communities are victimised by the inequality in health care; women are increasingly abused because of the inequalities which plague their lives; every day we read about pervasive inequality in service delivery; and there is inequality in addressing the unemployed and underemployed.

But in my opinion, the greatest, most serious inequality is the inequality of opportunity. And it is here that we can see the interrelationship between all of the other inequalities. Access to opportunities is an important predictor of future outcomes. Access to quality basic services such as education, health care, essential service delivery infrastructure (like water, sanitation and electricity) and early childhood development provides an individual, irrespective of background, the opportunity to advance and reach his or her unique human potential.

What did Madiba spend his entire life fighting for? Fundamentally, one word: equality. Isn't it time that we again rise up together as a nation, as a community of communities, to ask, “Is this the best we can do?” and then to reply, resoundingly: “NO”.

We can do better. We will do better. We must do better to give our children a chance. So, where, why and how does the New Struggle begin?

It starts by agreeing that that it begins with the rational and emotional acceptance that after 20 years of democracy, we need to regain our moral compass. We need, as I said when I led a march on Parliament earlier this year, to turn ourselves inside out and expose our sense of moral consciousness to the sun. The sun, the light, is God's disinfectant and will help us cleanse ourselves. It will help us become morally disinfected so that we can recapture the dream we had when Nelson Mandela was inaugurated 20 years ago.

The New Struggle requires that you, who in my mind and heart represent millions of honest, hard-working, South Africans, must come together to realise the potential of this blessed country. It takes integrity to acknowledge we can do better, but it takes courage actually to do better. It takes courage to follow the example of Beyers Naude, and to say to our comrades in our first Great Struggle: your faulty moral compasses are leading us astray.

The power of a country lies in the capacity which relationships generate. Positive or negative national energy is determined by the quality of relationships and the respect in which those relationships are held. Those who relate through coercion, or in disregard of others, create negative energy. Those who are open to others, and who see others in their fullness, create positive energy. Positive energy will frame the answer to the question, “What kind of nation do we want to be?"

The New Struggle is about one word with two letters: “WE".

What do I mean by that? Let's start by asking ourselves: do we live in a “me” country or a “we” country? For most of us the answer is that we unfortunately live in a “me” society. Over the past two decades, we have lost many of our traditional values, and our culture now tends to organise itself around and reward the “me". In our consumer culture, “we” isn't popular. We are slipping away from the values of ubuntu.

In a “me” society, we ask: what are “my” and my family's and friends' needs and aspirations, not what are “our” needs and aspirations as a society. To take an example from this Province: If the astounding allegation is indeed true, that the topmost leaders of a city — leaders from a party once led by Nelson Mandela — diverted money meant for arrangements for his funeral to their friends and for their own personal gain, does that reflect a “we” society or a “me” society?

A “me” country is an “I-centered” country, characterised by cultures that are high on fear and low on trust.  People don’t feel or believe they can speak honestly and contribute ideas and opinions freely. Organizations, ministries, departments preach team-work but many “team members” and “team leaders” operate as lone wolves. As a result, we suffer from the high cost of low trust.

In “me"-based societies, leaders, elected officials, those who operate at provincial, city or township level feel they have to protect their territory. As a result, these “leaders” are perceived as ineffectual or autocratic and self-protection is the dominant feeling. Anxiety, frustration and resentment are the common emotions found in “me"-centred societies like ours.

For South Africa to flourish, we need to move from “me” to “we”, asking not what I can do, but what we can do, together, to meet not my needs or those of my immediate circle, but our needs, and to work for the common good. “We"-focussed societies bring out the best in their citizens. “We"-centred leaders are characterised by caring, courage and vision. Environments that foster “we"-centred behaviours encourage diversity of thought and expression of feeling. They encourage risk-taking and tolerate “failure.” “We” cultures support sharing. They are dedicated to fairness and the achievement of the full potential within everyone. They open opportunity,

And, I might add, a “we” society does not stop at the borders of our country. We are a global community and can't separate ourselves from the world's ills while we focus on ours. So we might say that the recent war in Gaza, as well as the conflict in what is called the “Holy Basin” of Jerusalem, benefits the “me” in that situation and not the people as a whole. That part of the world too needs what I am calling for in South Africa — a renaissance of courage and trust.

As religious leaders, as believers, as business leaders, as union leaders, as public servants, as civil society leaders, as government leaders, as neighbours, as a democratic, constitutional, values-based society, we have to work to replace “me” with “we” in our thinking for South Africa and our world to prosper and triumph. We must decide that “we” can do better. We need a national dialogue to recover and reach consensus on our values and we need to hold our leaders — all our leaders, in whatever sphere — to them. We need to teach those values to our children or inequality will continue to be pervasive in our society.

For South Africa to grow and fulfil her potential, for all of us to grow and fulfil our potential:-

“We” must replace “me”;
"We” must rise up and say, “We” can do better!
"We” must step up and say, “We” must do better!
"We” must lead and show, “We” will do better!"


Article 4 of the AU corruption Convention:
Scope of Application

1.  This Convention is applicable to the following acts of corruption and related offences:

(a) the solicitation or acceptance, directly or indirectly, by a public official or any other person, of any goods of monetary value, or other benefit, such as a gift, favour, promise or advantage for himself or herself or for another person or entity, in exchange for any act or omission in the performance of his or her public functions;

(b) the offering or granting, directly or indirectly, to a public official or any other person, of any goods of monetary value, or other benefit, such as a gift, favour, promise or advantage for himself or herself or for another person or entity, in exchange for any act or omission in the performance of his or her public functions;

(c) any act or omission in the discharge of his or her duties by a public official or any other person for the purpose of illicitly obtaining benefits for himself or herself or for a third party;

(d)  the diversion by a public official or any other person, for purposes unrelated to those for which they were intended, for his or her own benefit or that of a third party, of any property belonging to the State or its agencies, to an independent agency, or to an individual, that such official has received by virtue of his or her position 

(e) the offering or giving, promising, solicitation or acceptance, directly or indirectly, of any undue advantage to or by any person who directs or works for, in any capacity, a private sector entity, for himself or herself or for anyone else, for him or her to act, or refrain from acting, in breach of his or her duties;

(f) the offering, giving, solicitation or acceptance directly or indirectly, or promising of any undue advantage to or by any person who asserts or confirms that he or she is able to exert any improper influence over the decision making of any person performing functions in the public or private sector in consideration thereof, whether the undue advantage is for himself or herself or for anyone else, as well as the request, receipt or the acceptance of the offer or the promise of such an advantage, in consideration of that influence, whether or not the influence is exerted or whether or not the supposed influence leads to the intended result;

(g) illicit enrichment;

(h) the use or concealment of proceeds derived from any of the acts referred to in this Article; and

(i) participation as a principal, co-principal, agent, instigator, accomplice or accessory after the fact, or on any other manner in the commission or attempted commission of, in any collaboration or conspiracy to commit, any of the acts referred to in this article.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Address to the Annual Prizegiving of Herschel School

Address to the Annual Prizegiving of Herschel Girls School, Cape Town, October 15, 2014:

Good evening, girls!  Good evening, parents! And good evening to the whole school community: girls, parents, teachers, headmaster, other members of staff, and members of Council.  Thank you Mr West and Council for inviting me to speak tonight, it is an honour indeed.

It's such a joy to be here again for a formal school occasion. Congratulations to you all for your achievements in the past year, individually and collectively: to the prize-winners of course, to the soon-to-be matriculants whose time here is coming to an end, but also to every single one of you.  For each one of you is a winner, because each one of you is equally part of this community of achievement, of this body that is Herschel School. And you remember how St. Paul describes a body in his First Letter to the Corinthians? He says "the body does not consist of one member but of many" and that every single member belongs to the body, and that, to quote him again, “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”

In similar vein, your achievements are not only yours' but they are the achievements of everyone who has supported you over the past year. So, in recognition of that, why don't you the girls, applaud them? First, let's applaud your teachers and the staff and governing body of the school who support them. And now, let's applaud your parents, your grandparents, other members of your family and the cloud of witnesses – your great-grandparents and ancestors – who are looking down on us today!

In the past year, we have seen women and girls in the news in a range of ways that I can't remember seeing before. We have seen stories of pain and despair which are testimony to the ways in which our society continues to disrespect and abuse women, but we have also seen stories of strength and moral courage in which they have demonstrated their resilience and their capacity to triumph over adversity. Let's look at just three examples.

The first is the story of Reeva Steenkamp and our response to her killing. Now I know that Judge Masipa's finding means that we cannot say with a certainty that is beyond reasonable doubt that Reeva's death was a manifestation of how women are abused in South Africa. We need to respect the finding of an experienced judge, who listened to all the evidence, that Oscar Pistorius's explanation of what happened that night might reasonably possibly have been true. But at the very least, we can say that the case, and the arguments around what happened, have put the issue of domestic abuse front and centre on the country's agenda. And that is a good thing, because if you speak to clergy in our communities – who by the nature of our ministry are privileged to hear people's confidences – they will tell you that domestic abuse, and especially the abuse of women and children by men, is one of the greatest of the hidden evils of our society, and that it happens in both poor and wealthy communities.

The second example is the abduction, six months ago last night, of more than 200 girls from the town of Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria by members of the Boko Haram group. That event may seem far removed from South Africa, and in many ways it is, but the growth of movements of extremist thugs – I won't dignify them by calling them religious because the ideas they propagate are a perversion of religion....  the phenomenon of extremist thuggery is something that as global citizens we must oppose everywhere. And the phenomenon is not confined to Nigeria or West Africa; it is emerging among disparate, uncoordinated groups in East Africa, North Africa and the Middle East as well, and it poses a challenge which we dare not underestimate.

Those of you who are history students will know that this year marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. Margaret MacMillan, a Canadian who is the warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford, says that one of the reasons we stumbled into that war, and that so many people died in it, was that our forebears miscalculated the significance of changes in the nature of warfare. Applying those lessons to our situation today, she gives us this sobering warning:

“A comparable mistake in our own time is the assumption that because of our advanced technology, we can deliver quick, focused and overpowering military actions… drones and cruise missiles… carpet bombing and armoured divisions – resulting in conflicts that will be short and limited in their impact, and victories that will be decisive.” 

But she notes that far from seeing easy victories, we are seeing wars with no clear outcomes involving what she calls “a shifting coalition of local warlords, religious warriors and other interested parties” across countries and continents.

The third example to which I want to refer tonight is – you will be thankful to hear – an inspiring one and that is the story of Thuli Madonsela. Isn't it wonderful to listen to her on television laying down the law, not loudly and bombastically as men often do, but in soft, gentle tones?  They say that President Theodore Roosevelt of America, a man's man if ever there was one, used to say that a leader should "speak softly and carry a big stick," and even our beloved Madiba was won’t to instinctively respond to certain situations by reaching for his big stick. But I think we can coin a new phrase about Thuli and say: "She speaks softly and carries the Constitution."

It has struck me recently that one of the major obstacles to solving our problems in South Africa is that we have become a “me” society instead of a “we” society. We ask too often, what are “my” needs and aspirations, not what are “our” needs and aspirations. For South Africa to flourish, we need to move from “me” to “we”, asking not what I can do, but what we can do, together, to meet not my needs, but our needs, and to work for the common good.

How do we, then, as the body of Herschel, demonstrate our refusal to succumb to fear or to become inured to suffering? How do we use our collective capacity for good, our privileges, our inherent love and goodness, to challenge violence, whether domestic, individualised or collective, and corruption? How do we use our innovation, creativity, and even our essay-writing skills, to highlight the problems of our day? How do we demonstrate the values of Herschel?  Let me briefly suggest a few places we might start.

Let us commit to addressing the cancer of domestic abuse within our society, helping those who suffer to overcome the paralysis induced by shame and often by their continued love for the perpetrator, and to act to protect themselves.

Let us continue to express our outrage at the holding hostage of the Chibok girls, and let's commit to remove the conditions in our country and beyond which are conducive to the growth of extremism. If we do business with Nigeria or other countries in Africa, let us not collude with the misallocation of resources in those countries.

In South Africa, let us acknowledge that our failure to end the desperate conditions in which many of our people live can create the conditions for an explosion, and let us join efforts started by those including Prof George Ellis and former mayor Gordon Oliver to face up to the crisis. The Department of Human Settlements reported last year that we still have a backlog of about 2.1-million houses. Even if people have houses, about 2.5 million of them don't have proper toilets. My daughter gets embarrassed when I call myself the "toilet archbishop", but I am compelled to campaign on this issue: a report from the Water Research Commission says only one in three households in Khayelitsha have yard and in-house water and sanitation facilities. About seven in 10 depend largely on communal taps or "stand pipes" for water and have inadequate or no access to sanitation. In parts of the Free State, the Northern Cape and even here in the Western Cape, many people still have to use buckets to remove human waste from their homes.

Let us also join Thuli Madonsela in fighting corruption, rigorously evaluating the energy deal with Russia lest we slap our children and grandchildren with huge bills to pay in their adulthood.

Let us also work for ecological justice, starting with recycling our domestic waste at home.

Let me end on a note of celebration of you and your achievements, and on a note of challenge very specific to Herschel. We have a wonderful school. The quality of your education is attested to by tonight's prizes and your impressive history of outstanding matric results. On behalf of the Diocese and my own behalf, congratulations!

But, as Jesus says in St. Luke's Gospel: "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required." At the Western Province Prep School's Centenary Celebration earlier this year, I challenged them to adopt an equity policy and to establish bursaries to attract more black students and more black teachers. Tonight I want to take this opportunity to make the same call on you.

You are a first-class, Christian, value-based school of excellence. I appeal to you to extend the fine work you already do so that it reaches even further into our communities, giving the opportunities we enjoy to even more students, whether from privileged backgrounds or not. Join our church and our Anglican Board of Education in addressing South Africa's educational challenges. Join us in repudiating cynicism, fear and the feeling of being overwhelmed by our country's problems, and help us in our determination to bring about change.

I ask of you, to go into your resources, dig deep into these, and establish an endowment for recruiting more black teachers and bursaries for more black learners. Mr West and Council, that is my plea and more specific a challenge to the school community

Thank you, congratulations again, and God bless you!

+Thabo Makgoba

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Prayer for those bereaved by the tragedy in Lagos

All Anglicans, Christians, people of faith and of none, are asked to use this prayer until the bodies of all those who died in Lagos have been repatriated for burial at home:

Lord God, creator of all life,

We come before you filled with hope but distressed by the plight of the traumatised families of those who died in the church guesthouse in Lagos.

We offer our intercession and supplications for a swift end to diplomatic difficulties; for completion of the unduly prolonged process of identifying and repatriating bodies.

We ceaselessly intercede for the bereaved, and assure them that even at this time of trauma, as Jesus says:  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”.  

Lord, we are created in your image, may your dignity and the dignity of the dead be respected in this process.

Finally, Lord, we ask that each South African and all your people pray for an end to this agony for the families, and to commit to call for its end.

For Jesus Christ's sake,


Tuesday 7 October 2014

To the Laos – To the People of God, October 2014

Dear People of God

I have just come out of my writing sabbatical, which I greatly valued, and hope to share its fruits with you all through a publication in the coming months. I returned from sabbatical into Synod of Bishops – which issued a statement on its concerns – and the annual meeting of Provincial  Standing  Committee (PSC), in which we discussed and passed a number of useful resolutions. Among the presentations and group discussion was the issue of the biblical and theological underpinnings of sustainability, and we also set up a small committee to explore the feasibility of buying land and building our own ACSA conference centre.

PSC affirmed the principles for establishing a new award in the Province, the Archbishop's Award to recognize all who serve humanity and creation along the Mican principles of peace with justice, and who seek reconciliation. There were also reports and resolutions on such matters as the environment, with a report on “eco-parishes”, the phenomenon of young people leaving our church, and the problems we are having with South Africa's Home Affairs department. You can find reports on these on the Provincial website. Next year, our church will host a meeting of the Communion's "Eco-Bishops' Initiative", which will gather bishops from around the world to discuss the environment.

This was a robust and less rushed meeting of PSC, which is the highest deliberative body of our Province between Provincial Synods, and the quality of our discussion and debate was outstanding. I hope the church will be enriched by its outcomes and that our canons will also be revised appropriately to express the growth and development shown at Synod.

We bade farewell to Bishop David Bannerman of the Highveld, who retires at the end of this year, to Bishop Nathaniel Nakwatumbah of Namibia, who is retiring next year, and to Prof Barney Pityana, who will retire from the College of the Transfiguration before the next meeting of PSC. We also welcomed warmly Dr Vicentia Kgabe as Prof Pityana's successor.

Two outside speakers, South Africa's Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, and scenario planner Clem Sunter addressed PSC. They both called on the church to learn to “do church” in a democracy and to learn to identify the “flags” signalling issues which may be challenging the us and calling for action at this time.

After PSC, a group of bishops travelled to Maputo for the consecration of Bishop Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo. It was a great day of celebration and worship – the first consecration in the diocese in almost 34 years. The service, in a packed basketball stadium, took about five hours and was lively and enjoyable. President Armando Guebuza addressed the congregation, as did Bishop Dinis Sengulane.

At the Synod of Bishops, we had agreed that about eight of us should join Bishop Adam Taaso of Lesotho for an ecumenical service for lawyers committed to peace, organised in response to the recent alleged coup attempt and political conflict in that country. So after Maputo I spent an evening in Johannesburg, then proceeded to Maseru. I paid a courtesy call on King Letsie III and met with Bishop Taaso and a few other people to gain a clearer perspective on the issues. At the service the next day, the Cathedral was packed with people, including His Majesty the King, Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso, members of the Senate and various political leaders.

I preached on the topic of peace with justice, and argued that truth, respect, reconciliation and forgiveness are non-negotiable elements for peace. I urged all to play their part in ensuring peace with justice and pursuing all that makes for lasting peace. I prayed and spoke of the need to engage in dialogue and to learn from the example of Moshoeshoe I, who built the Basotho nation. I also affirmed the role of South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) team appointed to facilitate a settlement, and prayed that their efforts would yield what the Basotho longed for. However, I said it was up to each and every Mosotho to work for what makes for peace. The King also addressed the nation, urging peace, and we all lit peace candles and prayed for peace, rain and the flourishing of all.

Thanks be to God that the next day, the SADC team seemed to have made headway and it was announced that there was an agreement to reopen Parliament – which has been suspended since June – and to hold early elections next year. We need to give thanks for an early resolution to the crisis, but we must now pray for peaceful and credible elections.

In South Africa, we deeply regret the government's refusal to allow the Dalai Lama into the country to join the Nobel Laureates' conference, forcing the organisers to cancel the conference and causing embarrassment to our country.

Further afield, we urge politicians to resolve the diplomatic tensions over the collapse in Lagos of the Synagogue Church of All Nations guesthouse to carry out to conclusion the identification of the possibly decomposing bodies of those who died. We continue to pray for their families even as we urge the closure of this horrible and sad chapter. On the world stage, even where there is peace it seems to be fragile, and we need to intensify our efforts to ensure peace with justice.

By the time you read this, I will have visited the Parish of St Francis in Simonstown, in the Diocese of False Bay, which this year celebrates 200 years of Anglican ministry in the town. We congratulate the parish on two centuries of faithful worship and service. May it grow in strength as it continues to witness to Christ in our time.

Please pray for the wider Church, especially where it is already divided or is in the process of being divided. Pray for sanity and God's intervention, especially in the situation where a former priest of this Province in False Bay wants to form his own denomination and thus lacerate and confuse the body of Christ.

May the church heal its divisions and live out the vision of Christ, that we be one as he and the Father are one. As Psalm 133 says:

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!"

God bless you

+Thabo Cape Town

Sunday 5 October 2014

Bio-diversity -- And 200 Years of Ministry in Simonstown

Homily at the Patronal Festival And Bicentennial Celebrations at St Francis Of Assisi, Simonstown, 5 October 2014:

Theme: Bio-Diversity

Genesis 1:24-31; Psalm 150 (Sung); Rev 5: 1-14; Gospel: St Luke: 12:42-48
I greet you all in the name of God who is Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer. Amen.
Let me start first by congratulating you for attaining a great milestone in the history of our Province: 200 years of faithful service, worship and witness in this place. We give thanks to God and I think we need to applaud this milestone. I acknowledge the presence of my predecessor, Archbishop Njongo, as I give thanks to the parish and Father Bob for inviting me to come and share this day with you today. I miss Fr Bob because whilst he was chaplain at Herschel, my daughter used to invite me to his sermons. She would say, “Dad, you always preach, come and listen to my chaplain preach at school”. So I would attend these inspiring and profound sermons by Bob.
Yours is a story of faithfulness and courage, and God’s faithfulness and care for you as a parish and people. I might be “preaching to the choir” but as you all know, patronal festivals or feasts of title are “nostalgic” occasions. You recall things gone past, how you are faring now and postulate the end with joy or fear – or you don’t even want to think about what the end will be like. These raise deep theological questions of how to live with the knowledge of God’s revelation, his incarnation in the here and now and what your or our end will be and how we should live whilst we are on “borrowed” time in this life. How should we respond to God’s revelation in creation? Could there be another way of looking at this?
The anthem sung by the choir just before the gradual hymn was particularly moving and made me reflect more deeply on the things I feel nostalgic about. And the elements brought to the front as symbols of bio-diversity were also helpful in reminding me of your patron saint, Francis. Francis and bio-diversity and care for the “outliers” or marginalised are synonymous. As you seek to imitate Christ and live up to the example of your patron saint, Francis, and in your frailty or strength or in whatever state you find yourself, how should you respond to God’s revelation in creation?
I have been asked to reflect on bio-diversity, as your patronal festival falls within the season of creation. Bio-diversity boils down to relationships. Two weeks ago, at Provincial Standing Committee, we were reminded of the reality of climate change as part of our relationship with the environment. Some may dispute this reality. But as one who calls Makgobaskloof home, I do notice the changes that make it far different from the way it was when I grew up there. The Letaba River is sometimes is too low or too full, the Ga Makgoba settlement is too dry and barren and full of resettled people.
At PSC, we were reminded of frightening and sobering statistics showing that 60% of the ecosystem on which we depend for life is now degraded beyond the point of repair: our water supplies and air are polluted and unsafe, and our bird life, animals, fish and forests are suffering. We see rising food prices and we are told that Southern Africa is warming at twice the global average. We may doubt the details of these statistics but we can’t ignore the warnings because we don’t agree scientifically.
One of the Anglican Communion marks of mission urges us to “strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” How do we do that, in the face of what I have painted?
To my children’s consternation, I have become known as “the toilet archbishop” because of my constant call that the poorest of the poor should be provided with proper water and sanitation. The cost to the fiscus of not doing so is much more than that of doing so, because of the consequences that ripple through to the health and other budgets. Hence I want to call on you, over and above what you do for social outreach, to join me in highlighting the plight of those without proper water and sanitation. Share your skills and research in devising solutions to this basic need. Order your intercessions to pray for an end to the plight of those who live without proper sanitation. Become known as the “the toilet parish” because of your concern and determination to resolve water and sanitation challenges in our country. Your patron saint would probably have identified with this call, this cause, and not with large houses, many garages and big and many cars.
How should we respond to the word read, proclaimed, prayed and said, to the sacrament shared, and to God‘s faithfulness to this parish over the last 200 years? The Psalmist in Psalm 150 sung and the heavenly host in the passage from Revelation read today urge us to respond by praise and worship, “Worthy is the Lamb”. You have done that well this morning. But how do we exude this life of worship and praise both inside this parochial space and outside, where we live and move and encounter our diverse contexts?
As John Suggit, who is seated in the pews this morning, is sometime quoted as saying, let’s get our theology correct. We can’t end the Genesis passage read by Sir Rupert Bromley with subduing and dominating the earth (Genesis 1:24-31). We need also to care for it. We can’t worry about the soul only in the company of the heavenly host in the vision read from Revelation and not worry about our body and mind and those of our neighbours (in the broadest sense ). We can’t afford the dualism that is sometimes preached and that has become prevalent and encourages escapism. Our lives, like that of St Francis, are lives full of hope. Hope, as John Suggit and Denise Ackermann describe it, is ”getting our hands dirty and effecting the change we desire because we believe God is with us and is already changing our lot”. Again Suggit is quoted as saying to his homiletics students (I hope it is correct!) that if you can’t say it in three sentences, don’t bother to say it. So to comply with this expectation, all I have said boils to two key theological aspirations: What is liberation (redemption) and how should we live in the here-and-now as people nurtured by the word of God?
We do these amongst other virtues by renewing our relationship with one another as neighbours and as God‘s children; we care for one another; we listen, hear and live the word of God in the world and with all God’s creation as the psalmist did, in praise and honour to God who cares for all of us, like God does even for the sparrow.
We are so grateful to God for this, our Church’s oldest parish. It has felt special for me to take part in this service. May you grow as a parish and continue in God’s strength. May each one of you continue to live in hope. Be like your patron saint, Francis – be hope-filled as you prosper in the things of God. Amen.
+Thabo Makgoba

Friday 26 September 2014

Statement from the Synod of Bishops meeting at Benoni in the Diocese of the Highveld, 21-24 September 2014

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)

To God be the glory:

The Synod of Bishops met for its bi-annual meeting at the Lakes Hotel and Conference Centre, Benoni. Bishop David Bannerman, in his farewell speech to the Synod, aptly described the spirit of this gathering and the past fellowship of the Synod of Bishops as “a place of grace”.  We experienced this sense and God’s redemption as we gathered daily, immersed in worship and prayer and being fed through the Word and Sacraments.  The homilies at the Eucharist each morning, which sought to remind the Synod of our identity in Christ and our vocation as Shepherds in the midst of the ethical challenges of the day were delivered by Bishops Ndwandwe, Wamukoya and Marajh. Steeped in prayer, worship and reflection on Scripture, we were able in love and frankness to confront the pastoral challenges that we are currently experiencing in the Province. 

    We evaluated the minimum canonical qualifications required for ordination. Prof Barney Pityana of the College of the Transfiguration and the Revd Craig Dunsmuir of the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) College provided vital input in this regard and Bishop Peter Lee facilitated this session. 

    Advocate Ronnie Bracks, the Provincial Deputy Registrar, gave an animated presentation on the need for good governance.  John Brand, a South African mediation expert, gave a presentation on mediation and the need to use it as the first resort rather than using mission money on litigation.

    We agreed to establish the Archbishop’s Award for Peace with Justice, in which we will acknowledge people who live and contribute in their communities to the virtues espoused in Micah 6:8:    

    He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
       and what does the Lord require of you
    but to do justice, and to love kindness,
       and to walk humbly with your God?

    We also celebrated the news of Bishop Nathaniel Nakwatumbah being recognised with the Namibian Award for Building Democracy, “First Class”, for building democracy in Namibia.  We bade farewell to Bishop David Bannerman, who retires at the end of 2014.  We will miss his deep, quiet spirituality.  We wish him well in his retirement. 

    We also congratulated Bishop Martin Breytenbach and the Revd Trevor Pearce, as well as the group of volunteers who organised the recent Anglicans Ablaze Conference.  The group from the Diocese of Johannesburg and staff at Bishopscourt were also thanked for their part in organising the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Mrs Welby.  Mrs Lungi Makgoba was acknowledged and thanked for her hospitality when the Archbishop visited our Province.

    Earlier this year, each bishop was given Fr Michael Lapsley’s book, Redeeming the Past, to read.  We spent some time reflecting on the book and how it touched us, helping to deal with our own hurt and pain, either currently or in the past, and to expose these to the loving embrace of Jesus.  This sharing enabled the bishops not to be only cerebral, but “to do” theology through their own personal experiences.

    We prayed for the Mozambique Peace Accord and coming elections as well as the situation in Lesotho.  A number of the bishops, including the Archbishop, will visit Lesotho to offer solidarity with and prayers for Bishop Adam Taaso and the people of Lesotho.  Please hold the bishops in prayer during the visit to Lesotho, scheduled for 1st October 2014.

    The Synod of Bishops expressed its appreciation to Bishop Peter Lee for his leadership of the Anglican Board of Education and the development in this portfolio.  He was acknowledged also for his pivotal role as Chair of the Provincial Trusts Board Management Committee as he hands over the reins to Bishop Brian Marajh.

    Theological Education and the Liturgical Renewal for Transformative Worship initiative remain top priorities for the Synod of Bishops.  We received with joy the news of the appointment of the Ven Dr Vicentia Kgabe as the first woman Rector of the College of the Transfiguration (COTT). We also congratulated Bishop Raphael Hess for the 2013 Theological Education Sunday effort which raised almost R1 million.  In 2015, Theological Education Sunday will be on the 23rd of August.

    A Leadership Conference is planned from 27th-30th October at St Philomena, Durban.  We invite all who are interested in reflecting and planning for leadership development in our Province to attend or contact Fr Duncan Mbonyana at COTT.

    We want to say to all God’s people in the Province, in the midst of the challenges and issues of this mortal life, “Hold onto the Resurrection hope and may the grace of God be revealed through you, wherever you may be.”

    After formally dissolving the Episcopal Synod, the Archbishop burst into song:

    “To God be the glory, great things he has done, so loved he the world that he gave us his Son”.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Archbishop's Message to Confirmation Candidates at Anglican Schools

A sermon preached at a Combined Confirmation for Anglican Schools at Bishops Memorial Chapel, Cape Town, 7 September 2014:

Readings: 1 Kings 2:1-4

When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn. Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Mark 7:1-23

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)— then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

May I speak in the name of God, who calls us all to a life of worship, witness and service.  Amen.

I acknowledge the presence of all the heads of schools and chaplains here this morning. A special thanks to Mr Guy Pearson, head of Bishops, and the chaplain, the Revd Terry Wilkie, for hosting us. It is as always a joy for me to come to Bishops for confirmations.

May I welcome you all here today – most especially all who are being confirmed today; but also to parents and guardians; families and friends; as well as educators, learners and the wider communities of these three great Anglican schools, Bishops, Herschel, St Cyprian’s and St George’s Grammar.  It is a joy to have you all here.

This week on the 1st September, Anglicans in Southern Africa celebrated the life and ministry of Robert Gray – the first Bishop of Cape Town. As I follow in his footsteps I continually thank God for the great foundations he laid, in so many areas of life, and from which we continue to benefit. When he arrived in Cape Town in 1848, he set himself three tasks: to preach the gospel, build churches, and plant clergy. Well, he did all these, and far more besides.

Education was one of his great priorities – with both Bishops and St Cyprian’s owing their establishment to him, and Herschel and St George's Grammar following in the same strong tradition of Anglican commitment to excellence in education. So we thank God for Bishop Robert Gray and for the lessons we learn from his life of witness.

To all of you who are to be confirmed today, I encourage you to let your confirmation be the foundation of your future as you journey in life and follow in the traditions laid by Bishop Robert Gray. One can imply such a foundation to be a lifestyle of worship, witness and service as God invites us to embark on the journey of life.

Confirmation is a rite of passage on our Christian journey and it is like receiving a passport, so you are ready for travel, ready for adventure! You are responding, saying, ‘Yes, I am ready for the path ahead – and my allegiance is to God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.’

Confirmation is not the end of a process – it doesn’t mean that you have "arrived"; that you have somehow become "fully a Christian" and can now put your feet up and relax and wait for heaven! Not at all!

From today onwards, you are making your choice to follow God’s way which is the best way for yourselves. Take responsibility for your own life, for your choices about how you will live, what you will do and where your life will take you. We are on a journey of discovery, trying to explore:  What do I want to do with life?  Who am I really?  How shall I become that person?

Tap into the yearning that God has placed deep inside of you:  a yearning to live an authentic life, a meaningful life; a desire to "be real", to be "connected".

Our first reading is about the advice King David – very old, about to die – gave to his son Solomon, on how to live well. "Follow God’s commands, obey him, and you will prosper in all you do," he said. Following God, and the prosperity God offers, are a far less superficial, a far more profound way of living. This is what our Gospel reading is all about. Jesus taught that it is what is inside us which makes us who we really are. Our attitudes, our thoughts, our dreams, our imagination – these are what shape our words, our actions, and the sort of person we become.

One may ask the question. Now how do we get it right? What if we make the wrong choices?
We are to be in regular Christian training which will help us live a life of worship, witness and service, to which you pledge yourselves today.

Worship means coming regularly to chapel or Church:

  • to learn about God’s amazing love, and experience it for yourself;  
  • to hear Scripture read and explained, so you can grow in knowledge of God and of how to live the Christian life 
  • to encounter the holy mystery of God’s presence; and be fed, and strengthened, in the deepest core of your being, by receiving the body and blood of Christ.

This also means regularly reading your Bible for yourself – preferably daily. Regular prayer is keeping in touch with God, by speaking to him about all that we are doing in our lives; and being open to learn from him.

It is also good to spend a little time each day, just being quiet before God. If we just calm down, and wait, and tell him we are listening, often an idea will come into our heads – often a solution to a problem or sense of encouragement – and because it connects so deeply with us, we learn to recognise this is God’s way of speaking to us.

We need God’s guidance so that we can live the lives of witness and service. A witness is someone who gives evidence about what they have seen, about what they know. Our lives – through our words, actions, and attitudes – should give evidence that we follow the most wonderful and amazing God of love, who created the whole universe, and who cares for us more than we can ever imagine, and who wants to lead us to be the best we can be!

The closer we come to God, the more clearly our lives will reflect him, as true witnesses. Service is about demonstrating God’s love and care in very practical ways. Some of us are called to do this through ordination and special ministries. But actually, all of us are called to serve others, in every part of life – by being loving and honest and generous-hearted, in all our dealings with other people.

This is true of our relationships in the home; in relationships in the church, the neighbourhood and the community. It should also be true of our work relationships – being honest, fair, and trustworthy, with our colleagues and with those with whom we do business, as well as with our employees. There is no room for corruption, and no room for cutting corners, or cheating in any way.

And all of us can strive to bring greater social justice: we can throw our weight behind initiatives that promote fairness and the good of all.  Perhaps we are called to do something particular – and I know your schools have various programmes through which you can develop community involvement.

In Dr. Sylvia Rimm's book See Jane Win, which reports on research on the success of over 1,000 women, she says:

"Expect the best from all children, including post-high school education.
- Encourage the exhilaration of taking risk...    
- Learn from the success of others.
- Don’t let birth order get in the way of giving our daughters leadership opportunities and responsibilities.                                              
- Spread the wealth resources you have.
- Set a good example.”

Mark Shuttleworth is the first African to travel to space and he is from Diocesan College. Jonathan Shapiro, the South African cartoonist is from St George’s Grammar. These are but some of the successful people of our schools who have made a difference.

Around the world, let's be conscious of the situations in which others live. There are the continuing senseless killing and violence in Gaza. There are tensions in the Ukraine. We continue to say ‘Bring back our girls’ kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria. And with the Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, let us pray for God’s blessing and healing of those afflicted by Ebola, which has killed almost 2,000 people in Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Also, in the year when we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, we need to find innovations and new applications to stop war in the future.

As you contemplate God's call to you, the key question is: What one action inspired by one value, constitutional and biblical, will you pursue to make your world safe and equal after your confirmation? I pledge to be a disruptive leader as I advocate for a renaissance of trust in order to build a just and equal world. What about you?

Pray that God will help us discover what his particular call is to each one of us, as we take time to walk closely with him and listen to what he has in store for us. Like sport and study and music and everything else worthwhile, it takes effort to get to do that effortlessly.

Our second reading tells us something of what that effort looks like. It tells us to develop good habits that shape our imaginations, attitudes, thoughts, dreams – it tells us to set our hearts and minds on the good things of God. Then they become foundational for us – like a soldier’s armour and equipment, says St Paul. Or we might say like the tools in a toolbox; like the ingredients for the recipes from which our lives feed and we feed others; or like the software on which we run, like God’s ‘apps’ for living.

Base your lives on truth, on love, on faith, on trust – and do it with prayer and reading the Bible.
Get into the habit of having a conversation with God about all you do – it is better than talking to yourself inside your head!

Focus on the good stuff.  That’s God’s message.If we let problems shape our lives, we will always be dragged down. If we focus on all that is best, it will shape our lives. So find time in your life to converse with God.

Dear confirmation candidates, may God give you the gifts of the Holy Spirit as I lay my hands upon you. May you walk before God in faithfulness with all your heart and with all their soul, as you keep on journeying.

May you grow in faith and in the love of God, as you obey his commandments to be faithful servants within his church and in his world, the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen!