Around the Province, clergy and lay ministers are adapting their Good Friday and Easter services in many innovative ways, including through Facebook, WhatsApp, Zoom and other platforms. While online media can never replace our gathering together physically to worship our Lord, the coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to catch up with our young people and learn new ways of being church in the modern world.
Since becoming archbishop, every Good Friday I have enjoyed just attending services at St George's Cathedral or St Cyprian's, KwaLanga in Cape Town where the music and dramatisation has been a big attraction. This year the Dean has kindly asked me to prepare and record the “7th Word”, as he puts it. I recorded my contribution, then re-recorded and kept on deleting and recording until I decided I would record it on Maundy Thursday, after my prayers with Cape Town's clergy via Zoom.
Media commitments are keeping me busy, with requests from SAfm in English and Thobela FM in Sepedi for radio, and preparing an Easter homily for SABC Television, where the SA Council of Churches has arranged an ecumenical broadcast on TV2. We still haven't been given time slots yet, either for the homily on the SABC or for the 30-minute Eucharist which I celebrated with the family for DStv's pop-up Easter channel. The photo at the top of this page shows DStv's advert for the channel – I am one of an interesting line-up of preachers!
A range of parishes around the country will also be observing Maundy Thursday to Easter in various ways online. Locally here in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, Archdeacon Terry Lester and his curate have pre-recorded their service, and St Cyprian's, KwaLanga, will worship on WhatsApp.
This Good Friday promises to be one with many words. I will dearly miss the familiarity of the full liturgies as I churn, listening to too many new words and not having the full experience, the emotions and the music of a live congregation during this lockdown.
But I am encouraged by what I am hearing about theologians working on a theology of COVID-19, as evidenced by work done by our Bishops, among them Bishop Raphael Hess of Saldanha Bay, Bishop Luke Pato of Namibia and Bishop Brian Maharaj, as well as the Revd Canon Janet Trisk of the Diocese of Natal, the Revd Dr Barney Pityana, Dean Michael Weeder and the Revd Courtney Sampson of Cape Town.
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Holy Wednesday is about betrayal and denial. I do hope that as you follow your own Holy Week path, it will bring blessings to you all as you recall that first Holy Week. I pray that you will experience that incredible realization, that “He is not here...” but he has gone ahead, before and beyond, and invites us as disciples to where he is.
FOR YOUR PRAYERS:
• The inadequate conditions for homeless people relocated to Strandfontein in Cape Town for the lockdown.
• The torching of four schools in Gauteng, a sad and painful thing when it is a time not to burn or destroy but to build.
• Growing the Church, as they come to terms with postponing this year's Anglicans Ablaze Conference, a step which I urged them to take given the uncertainties of the coming months.
• The family of Elias Mmberegeni, the uncle of one of our clergy in the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist.
• The family of the Revd Motsepe of the Diocese of Pretoria.
Below you will find two videos:
• The Litany for the Coronavirus Pandemic used by the Bishops at our Holy Week video-conference on Monday;
• The head of the World Health Organization urging us the world to “test, test, test” for the virus, in order that we may judge its true extent and take action accordingly (The Guardian).