Thursday 9 April 2020

Archbishop's Holy Week News & Reflections – Maundy Thursday

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

Sixty-six clergy from the Diocese of Cape Town, including four retired bishops, joined me in the Bishopscourt Chapel on Zoom video conferencing software for a most moving prayer service at midday today. 

Normally, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu joins us on Maundy Thursday when we gather as clergy to renew our vows, and this year I sent a message reporting on the prayers which replaced the usual Chrism Mass.

He replied with a lovely note to us all, telling us, “God be praised for all you are doing, you and your episcopal and clerical colleagues. You are more than a match for this virus.”

Tomorrow I'll be arranging a special Good Friday service at noon at Bishopscourt - we'll post more details about that on social media in the morning.

Today, I started work in my garden patch at Bishopscourt again, thinking of what happened in another garden more than 2,000 years ago. Thanks to Jojo tanks, I can harvest water to enable this gardening – although today my pattern of work was disrupted by a rare event, finding and having to bury a dead squirrel. (You can see photos of the garden and a brief video below.)

Ironically, in 1980 one of my predecessors, Archbishop Bill Burnett, planted an olive tree from the Holy Land where I have my garden patch. Some years ago, I preached at the Garden of Gethsemane, at a conference organised by Sabeel, the liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians. Working in the garden today reminded me of that visit to Palestine, and my recollections of the olive trees which had been there for many years. I recall wishing those trees could tell me what had happened during that Night before Jesus's trial and execution. 

Apart from the service and the gardening, I had a day full of media requests, mainly for radio interviews including Kaya FM, Polity and the SABC. I am glad I took my retreat last week and am able to engage at this paced rate during Holy Week. 

Many of you will have seen by now that an Anglican Easter service will be broadcast by DStv on their special Easter channel, Channel 344, at 11h30 on Sunday. My family and a staff assistant who helps with media liaison joined me for the service at the Church of the Good Shepherd, built by a community of freed slaves near Bishopscourt. 

SABC-TV also offered us airtime this weekend – a short homily for Easter, and a message for an interfaith service. I recorded them both today and although they haven't said exactly when they will be aired, it seems likely the homily will be in their 11h00-13h00 slot and the interfaith message between 13h00 and 14h00, both on SABC2. 

As a result of the lockdown, and after an approach from the SA Council of Churches, the SABC expanded their religious programming this weekend, and have published the schedule below. 

God bless,


    • A Good Friday Special on 10 April 2020, from 15h00 to 17h30 on SABC2
    • An Easter Sunday Special on 12 April 2020, from 11h00 to 13:00 on SABC2
    • An Interfaith Special on 12 April 2020, between 13h00 and 14h00 on SABC2 and

    • A Unity in Diversity Special on 12 April 2020, between 14h00 and 14h30 on SABC1.

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