Saturday 11 April 2020

Archbishop's Holy Week News & Reflections – Holy Saturday

Nyaki, Karabo (Pabi), Mrs Lungi and ++Thabo Makgoba
Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

“Dad, have you been ‘zooming’ again today?” There you go, a new verb born out of lockdown.

For me Holy Saturday is typically much quieter than today was, a time when I am still full of the emotions and animation of Good Friday and its message. Usually we are laid back as a family and take a siesta from 3 till around 6 pm, then have dinner around 7 in preparation to go to St George’s Cathedral for the 10:30 Easter Vigil.

When our two were at Anglican schools, because of the frequency of services at school, they used to remind us at Easter that their friends were resting at their homes while they had to attend extra services. They humorously termed the vigils “forced services” because there was less negotiation about attendance than usual.

Today, we unconsciously missed this rhythm. At 3 pm the family rested, whilst I typed part of what I wanted to say in these reflections. Then, as a trustee of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) – an initiative to bring safe drinking water and sanitation to everyone around the world – I had an online Zoom video discussion with colleagues in Tanzania, India and Unicef in Nairobi. We reflected on what is happening in India’s and South Africa’s lockdowns, contrasted with Tanzania where coronavirus infections are low and there is no lockdown yet. We shared our experiences and commitment as an interfaith, ecumenical, continental and global group. COVID-19 is forcing us to recall the core value of solidarity and to be each other’s keepers – true neighbours.

At 4 pm, I had a meeting with SA Council of Churches leaders and economists. Of course the Greek roots of the words Theology and Economy are the same. We discussed and reflected on the human face of the economic lockdown. I was particularly struck by what they called “the gap” – a term for people who are neither covered by Unemployment Insurance nor qualify for a social grant.

After this engagement we looked at this Kairos moment we are living through and continued  reflecting on a post-COVID-19 theological vision and praxis. We have had similar discussions in the past, on our NGO and churches’ manifesto and on the SACC’s programme, “The South Africa we pray for”.

We have an SACC pastoral plan [PDF] for dealing with the current crisis, joining others in distributing food and maintaining hope. We looked at various scenarios including a “good” ending as well as one where people lack sufficient food, water and cash. We considered the liquidity of South Africa and how, in the light of the success of the Government’s Solidarity Fund so far, we can encourage giving and sharing on an ongoing basis. There is a formal paper from this meeting, I am just painting it in broad strokes and without breaking confidentiality before it is released.

Tonight, we will celebrate as a family an abridged Service of the Light, bless the fire and bless the Easter candle. I hope I can still chant the Exultet.

Last week I asked the youth to join a call for the “Data Must Fall” campaign, which aims to get free data supplied to young people so students can study online, and I had one response which read, “Which ones, Your Grace?”

So I invite the Youth of our Province or their friends, or any young people, to an open Zoom discussion on Easter Monday.

I am conscious that in all my reflections and engagements, I have not yet listened to the voice of the young. I want to hear from them: (1) How does the Church rebuild trust with Southern Africa's youth? (2) What can the Church do to be a doorway for creating equality of opportunity, after the COVID-19 season? (3) How can the Church mobilise Southern Africa's youth to create a social, economic and political voice for the under-represented? (4) What are they feeling and doing during lockdowns? (5) What advice do they have for other young people or adults?

We will send the Zoom meeting details tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, do download Zoom if it is possible for you, and please join me on Monday at 12:30, after noonday prayers.

Many of you will join worship tomorrow online, including on Facebook, WhatsApp and other media. Television broadcasts so far this weekend have included contributions by Canon Reeva Mulder of Cape Town, Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe of Mthatha, Bishop Steve Moreo of Johannesburg and Bishop Charles May of the Highveld.

Details of tomorrow's broadcast Anglican Easter homily and a service are below. We will post my homilies online afterwards.

Christ is risen and we are risen!  Have a blessed Easter!


Easter Sunday services
    • The DStv Easter channel, 344, free to all DStv subscribers, will carry an Anglican Easter service from the Church of the Good Shepherd, Protea Village, at 11.30 am.
    • SABC 2 will air an Easter Sunday Special from 11 am to 1 pm, for which I recorded a homily.
    • SABC 2 will air an Interfaith Special between 1 pm and 2 pm, for which I recorded a brief message.
    • SABC 1 will broadcast a Unity in Diversity Special from 2 pm to 2.30 pm.


  1. arch bishop Thabo, I am humbled and my prayers answered during my meditation on this easter morning❤. Thank you for seeking the voices of the youth in your church. Thank you for being obedient to Gods spirit as he delivered this message to you. we will chat on Monday. God bless you and continue to guide you in all you do. Blessed Easter and indeed Christ is risen, as a church we may not be able to physically meet , but can still continue being the church in many ways. Much love, peace and joy!

  2. Thank you Your Grace. I loo forward in participating in these Easter services. May God bless you and your family at this holy time.

  3. Thank you Bishop.. Blessings to you and your family at large🙏


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