Friday 1 May 2020

Archbishop's Eastertide News & Reflections – St Joseph's Day

With KK after presenting him with the Archbishop's Peace & Justice Award.

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

Today being St Joseph’s Day, we remember and pray for all the workers of the world, particularly because of the anxiety so many are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus, their loss of income and even their jobs. Pray especially for essential service workers who are caring for COVID-19 patients, emergency workers, the police and army and those who continue to grow, harvest, deliver and sell food to us. We also give thanks for the great epidemiologists and other medical exports which we have, and for the acquisition of supplies of personal protective equipment for our health workers.

By now, as most of us enter a new period of lockdown, I hope we have managed to develop some form of rhythm for our days and that we are nurturing our spiritual lives. This week, from the confines of Bishopscourt in Cape Town, I have continued the rhythm of saying my prayers and giving attention to family and church life while reaching out to society both locally, nationally and internationally.

As many Provinces of the Communion have suspended public worship, the Anglican Communion Office in London is compiling a video-based weekly Service of the Word, and they asked me this week to contribute the homily for this, the Fourth Sunday in Easter. The readings for the service are: Psalm 23; Acts 2:42 to the end; and John 10: 1-10. The service will appear on the ACO's YouTube channel and we’ll share it on our Province’s Facebook page and Twitter channel when it becomes available.
I am also privileged to be joining others around the world on Saturday in a live-streamed event to promote global hope and healing under the banner “The Call to Unite”. It will run for 24 hours beginning in the early hours of the morning, during which 200 people, from Oprah Winfrey to Yo-Yo Ma, will perform and speak. My contribution will be webcast between 7 and 8 am on Saturday. This week we also shared a podcast in which Zelda la Grange, Madiba's former PA, asked me what I would say if I were to have dinner with Madiba today, and to share some of my favourite music.

I have enjoyed browsing through the many online services and reflections webcast by our clergy and laity through the Province during the lockdown. We are spoilt for choice! Keep the hope burning and nurture God’s people in whatever way we can. Our world is not and will never be same but we need to be innovative and not allow a vacuum to replace what we used to do in the past.

Congratulations to the youth of our Province, following our Zoom dialogue on Easter Monday. I have been following their various sites and groups, and the #SundaysInYellow campaign was great. I recorded another message today for their Sundays in Red and other campaigns till Advent. Thanks to Fr Chesnay Frantz and the Western Cape PYC for spearheading this initiative, which we will publicise as it rolls out.

The economic reality of lockdown is hitting churches hard. I chair a subgroup of the National Church Leaders’ Forum which has been tasked with looking at “What would make churches COVID-19 compliant?” What are the conditionalities we should adhere to? Or put differently, what are the boxes we need to tick to show that we are ready to open? I would really value your questions and suggestions on this one, so that we can assist the household of faith in returning home in as caring a manner as possible. We cannot stay in lockdown in perpetuity. I have found these guidelines for faith-based communities issued by the World Health Organization to be extremely helpful.

Our public broadcaster in South Africa, the SABC, as well as private radio and TV stations have been helpful in getting the churches’ message across, for which we are grateful. Yesterday I was asked to record a clip to wish Newzroom Africa a happy birthday as they complete a year of bringing news to our offices and homes. I am thankful for John Allen of our ACSA media team for helping me keep in touch – please visit our ACSA website, Facebook page and Twitter channel to keep updated.

Across the Province, we pause today in the midst of the lockdown to acknowledge and pray for Bishop Ossie Swartz, retired Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman, Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe of Mthatha and the Dean of the Province, Bishop Stephen Diseko, who are celebrating the anniversaries of their consecration as bishops in the Church of God.

Looking outside the Church, we congratulate former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda on his 96th birthday this week, and we mourn the loss of Denis Goldberg, one of the last surviving Rivonia trialists, and give thanks to God for his contributions to the liberation and continuing development of South Africa.

My spiritual adviser has affirmed the importance of rhythm, prayer and continuing to find God in everything – both in the desolation of COVID-19 and the consolation of our responses. This week I prayed over the phone with Archbishop Emeritus Desmond, for which am grateful, and I will continue to do so on a weekly basis. At a family level, back at home in Tlhabine in Limpopo, we have lost a cousin recently but everyone else is well.

I end by answering a question a friend asked: What do you do to sustain yourself, Arch, with so many demands, even in lockdown? Apart from what I have shared previously, I have returned to reading and praying the psalms. I randomly choose a line that strikes me and stay with it for the day as I continue with other things.

May God bless you.


   With Denis Goldberg last year. 
Cathedral members packing food parcels in Makhanda. 

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