Tuesday 30 March 2021

Blessing of Inkwenkwezi Music Centre

Blessing of Inkwenkwezi Music Centre at Herschel Girls School, Cape Town, on March 30: 

1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 31; John 12: 20 -26

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

Sisters and brothers in Christ, dear people of God, Mrs Goedeke, Mrs Heidmann, Ms Taylor of the Music Department, other heads of schools present here, the Chairperson and members of Council, educators, parents and learners; Bishop Joshua, Archdeacon Mark Long and the Revd Jaques Pretorius: it is a joy to be with you this evening in Holy Week and share in this exciting milestone in the life of Herschel Girls, as we dedicate this music centre to the glory of God for the use of this school. 

Let me extend a warm welcome to you all. Thank you for inviting me and most importantly, many thanks to all who were involved in the planning and preparation of this day. Thank you to the chaplain, the Revd Lorna Lavarello-Smith, for preparing the liturgy and the service booklet. And a special welcome to the parents and guardians who are present. 

In today’s reading from the Letter to the Corinthians (1 Corr. 1:18ff), St Paul says emphatically that all humanly-devised philosophical systems end in meaninglessness because they have a wrong concept of God and God’s revelation. Also, that in God’s providential ordering of human affairs, to know God implies harmony with God’s mind and character, which are alien to the world. Therefore, the crucified Christ is the power that saves and the wisdom that transforms seeming folly into the ultimate and highest discernment. In short, we are utterly dependent on God.

When I was here in February 2020 I highlighted that the task of the school is the development of a girl child – intellectually, socially, emotionally and spiritually – through instilling ethical and moral values, self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of worth; through developing creativity, flair and the capacity for  independent and critical thinking with an ability to lead when facing the challenges of today. The Inkwenkwezi Music Centre – appropriately titled for a school which bears the name of an astronomer – will play an important part in enabling the nurturing of the young women of Herschel to that end. 

The music we hear today, the hymns we sing, remind us that we are called to be those who seek to serve, to understand the context of despair, of darkness and of sadness. Never have we needed that focus in our lives more than in the past year. It has been a gruelling year for most, a year of grief and anxiety, a year of challenge and adaptation in which we have had to rethink the way we do things. Even as humankind achieved new heights in a ground-breaking mission to Mars, the pandemic has nevertheless forcefully reminded us that our human existence is conditional, impermanent and reliant on the infinite grace of the God we worship. 

And it is testament to God’s grace that God has given our scientists the skills and insight which not only empower us to send landing vehicles to Mars, but which enable the extraordinary feat of developing, in record time, vaccines to fight a pandemic which threatened to destroy us all. We owe much to our scientists, including the world-class researchers which South Africa has brought to this task. Now it is the task of others, especially those in the pharmaceutical business and in government, to match the achievements of the scientists and to find ways of rolling out vaccines which ensure that the citizens of every country on earth receive their jabs at a similar rate. 

In Africa it is as if we are suffering from vaccine apartheid, so far behind are we in receiving and administering the vaccine. Getting this right is not rocket science, it is rather a logistical challenge which we are perfectly capable of overcoming if we repudiate vaccine nationalism and remember that in God’s eyes we are all created equal.

Friends, it is God who has called us to union and communion with Christ and it is by faith in Christ that we are justified. So, as we bless this Music Centre today, it is my prayer that through it we will praise the Lord. For as Psalm 150 says:

“Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre”.

God bless you, and God bless the teachers, staff, benefactors and learners of Herschel. God loves you, and so do I. Amen. 


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