Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Three invitations: 20 April, 15 May and 17 August 2015

1. 4th Steve de Gruchy lecture in Cape Town

Date: 20 April 2015 at 18h30 for 19h00

Venue: Rondebosch United Church, Belmont Rd, Rondebosch

Speaker: Dr Roderick Hewitt, from Jamaica

Theme: The influence of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” on the theology of Steve de Gruchy


2. Western Cape AHA Indaba

AHA invite

3. KAIROS 30th Anniversary conference

Kairos invitation

“Love triumphs!” Text of pope’s Easter message

Originally posted on CNS Blog:

Pope Francis delivers Easter message from central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. (screen grab) Pope Francis delivers Easter message from central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. (screen grab)

VATICAN CITY — Here is the Vatican’s English translation of Pope Francis’ Easter message. He delivered it from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica today before giving his solemn blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus Christ is risen!

Love has triumphed over hatred, life has conquered death, light has dispelled the darkness!

Out of love for us, Jesus Christ stripped himself of his divine glory, emptied himself, took on the form of a slave and humbled himself even to death, death on a cross. For this reason God exalted him and made him Lord of the universe. Jesus is Lord!

By his death and resurrection, Jesus shows everyone the way to life and happiness: this way is humility, which involves humiliation. This is the path which…

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With clenched fists, pope addresses social ills in Naples

Originally posted on CNS Blog:

Pope Francis in Scampia. (Screen shot) Pope Francis in Scampia. (Screen shot)

Pope Francis this morning issued stark warnings to people who rob others of hope; with a strong voice and a clenched fist, he condemned mafia dons, drug traffickers and those who exploit workers.

And he shook his head in wonder that anyone could treat an immigrant as if he or she was a worthless annoyance.

In Naples’ Scampia neighborhood, one of those “peripheries” of poverty and degradation the pope speaks about so often, an immigrant woman from the Philippines asked the pope to please remind people that immigrants are children of God.

“Have we reached the point where that’s necessary?” the pope asked the crowd. “Are migrants second-class humans?”

“They are like us, children of God,” he said. What is more, they are reminders that this world is not the permanent home of anyone and that “we are all migrants (moving) toward another homeland.”

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Sermon: Wondering and Wondering in the Wilderness


Excellent sermon for the first Sunday in Lent…..

Originally posted on Black and White and in Living Color:


[Given on Sunday, February 22, 2015,  by The Rev. Fr. Marcus Halley at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church –  Kansas City, MO]

Mark 1:12 (1:9-15)

O God,
take our minds and think through them,
take our lips and speak through them,
take our hearts and set them on fire
   with love for you;
may your kingdom come,
on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.”
Mark 1:12 (NRSV)

Soaking wet, Jesus, fresh from the waters of baptism was driven by the Spirit of God into the Wilderness. In being baptized by John, Jesus was entering this revolutionary religious movement begun by John the Baptizer in which the religious authorities and systems would be overturned and revived. Jesus enters this revolutionary religious movement and, immediately after signing on the “dotted line,” he is driven by the Spirit of God into the wilderness.


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A hopeful story from Greater Hermanus

A story of hope from Hermanus

This morning I attended what was probably one of my most “spiritual” and hopeful experiences….what I experienced could also be called a “safe space sharing” experience.

Theo Krynauw from Sparkle Kids in Hermanus ( ) has now initiated a group called “Get on with it Hermanus”. This is a group of people who meet at a local restaurant once a month (the restaurant owner, Francois, is a member and he provides his space and some tea and coffee for free) and this is one of the few “multi-racial” spaces in Hermanus where people from the communities of Zwelihle, Hawston, Mount Pleasant and Hermanus all come together.

The key reason why they are together is to find ways of assisting young people between the ages of 18 – 30 who have no or few opportunities to get ahead in life.

They have partnered with DEADAT in the Western Cape (Department of Environmental Affairs, Development and Tourism) and this means that they are currently employing 130 young adults, mainly from Zwelihle, who each get R2000 per month from the Department, which is then supplemented by an employer who gives them an opportunity to work in their business for 6 months. This programme is for a 6 month period and that is all that the employer agrees to. The 130 young people in the Greater Hermanus area is a significant percentage of the 1000 young people which the Western Cape aims to recruit in any six month period. This is a ‘stepping stone’ to other opportunities for the young adults.

Some of the young people who have completed their six months of work have saved the money they have earned and have now used this money to register at Universities. Theo remarked that he could notice the confidence level of these young people who had been working – that it was above those who did not work.

The format of the meeting was relatively informal, with different people getting up at different times to explain what they are busy with. Most impressive was one young person, William, who has opened a Youth Café in Zwelihle at 1870 Msomi Street in Zwelihle. Some construction people in Hermanus have assisted him with the construction of the Youth Café and he was there to thank them and to give an update on what will happen there, including that it will be a space for matriculants to study as well as a space for cultural tourism. Already this year they have hosted 4 groups of international tourists, mainly from Sweden. Someone asked what else they need and he mentioned the need for furniture, kitchenware, etc. and it seemed as if some people were immediately ready to assist them with this. His partner is Fikiswa, and she is a cultural specialist who tells stories about the culture of the people in Zwelihle. ( )

The person who helps to source the Swedish groups, Dennis, is a Swede who was involved in education. He has already brought more than 100 used laptops from Sweden (which he sourced from municipalities there) and are handing a laptop to each child who passes their Matric with a university pass. Dennis is also involved with a project called “Future Design” where he assists young people to design their own future, away from blaming their parents etc for what they have today and where they are in life.

Another initiative mentioned was one which would deal with those who are addicted to drugs. Anthea spoke passionately about this and said that “Don’t do drugs” is one of the most useless approaches, but that she uses art to deal with this challenge (she showed us one of her artworks, even though she is not an artist) and prefer to give the following message: “You have value. You have a need to belong. Create it.”

A similar project called a “youth substance intervention programme” has also been started by Lu-Anne, and this uses a very successful MATRIX MODEL. She mentioned that in the Greater Hermanus schools, there are 280 known cases of young people on drugs, and this excludes Hermanus Primary and Hermanus High, as they would not give their statistics.

Volunteers were also called for the SHINE project and some discussion was held about saving the Whale Coast community Radio station.

Theo also mentioned AHA (Authentic Hopeful Action) and we will speak more about this at other monthly meetings.

To learn more about these initiatives in Hermanus, simply go to the “Get on with it Hermanus’ Facebook page. There are probably many similar groups in different communities in South Africa, and it is important that people know about these and get inspiration from these in order to build a better South Africa, from the bottom up.

AHA! – meditation by John de Gruchy


James 2:14-18

“Faith without works is dead!”

Pessimists say that the cup is half empty; and optimists, that it is half full.  Some people are pessimists by nature.  For them the world, the Hermanus town council, and the church are hopelessly falling apart, South Africa is going to the dogs (don’t ask me what dogs have to do with it!), the government is totally corrupt,  people always let you down, young people have no discipline, tomorrow is going to be worse than today — even when they hear good news they automatically add a negative comment, “yes, but!”.  Optimists also seem to be optimists by nature.  South Africa is getting better, the dogs don’t bite and snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them, people are always so nice, young people are a pleasure, and what a great day it is today despite the heat and south-easter, it could be worse.  It is easy to understand why people are pessimists, especially in circumstances such as we see every day on TV.   “It is,” Bonhoeffer wrote shortly before his arrest, “more sensible to be pessimistic, disappointments are left behind, and one can face people unembarrassed.  Hence, the clever frown upon optimism.”  But then he goes on to praise optimism because it is:

a power of life, a power of hope when others resign, a power to hold our heads high when all seems to come to naught, a power to tolerate setbacks, a power that never abandons the future to the opponent but lays claim to it,

Pessimists may keep our feet on the ground but optimists keep hope alive.  But perhaps it would be best if we were all realists who accepted the way things are, for good or ill, and then got off our butts to make things better, neither bemoaning nor turning a blind eye to what is wrong or bad.  In the end, does it really matter if the glass is half empty or half full ?  What matters is whether we are going to do what needs to be done to fill the cup to the brim.  If we are not working to make the world a better place, things will get worse whether we are pessimists or optimists.

There were plenty of prophets of doom in the Old Testament.  The difference between a true prophet and false one was that whereas the true prophet told the political and religious leaders how bad things were and they had better change their ways, the false prophets always said things were just fine, “peace, peace, when there was no peace.”  But the true prophets were actually being realists.  They were not just saying how bad things were, they were calling on people to change, to change their attitudes, change their hearts and minds, and start doing things differently.  The same was true of Jesus,  Jesus laid it on the line when speaking truth to power, when castigating the religious hypocrites of his day, and the corrupt rulers in the Temple and the Palaces of Jerusalem and Tiberias.  He did not have much faith in their willingness to change.  But he saw possibilities for healing and change in seemingly hopeless situation.  He saw the good in people rejected as irreligious, isolated because they had contagious diseases, shunned because they were tax-collectors and prostitutes, or simply ignored because they were poor.  He did not give up on them.  He exuded the power of life, and  hope.

The apostle James was clearly a realist.  He knew about the great gulf between wealth and poverty in his day but decided to do something about it.  To those who said they believed in God but did nothing to help the poor he retorted “faith without works is dead” and went on to say “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.”  Sparklekid Theo likewise tells us “Just get on with it!”  Yes, politicians are corrupt, the power outages are unacceptable, the conditions in the township are bad, but let’s get on and do something to make life better for everyone.  That attitude releases the power of life and hope.  And there are many such good news stories being told today around South Africa that demonstrate this in big or small ways.  Listen to one from the kindergarten across the road from Volmoed:

January 2015 kicked off with great excitement and a school filled with 38 little children, some more happy than others to join our school.  Our classes bursting at their seams with small little faces eager to embark on this new exciting path of their lives.  From our 38 students 4 are from Hamilton Russell Vineyards, a number from farms in the area and then a host of children from Zwelihle.  Two of our 3 teachers will continue their education this year via Klein Karoo and I am so excited to see how quickly they are developing, not only in their teaching abilities but also in their confidence.

Immediately after the conference held in Stellenbosch last September to celebrate my 75th birthday, a group of participants got together and decided to do something about poverty in South Africa.  They called the project AHA! which stands for “Authentic, Hopeful Action.”  They were realists who  did not simply want to talk about change but to act in ways that made a real difference to the lives of the poor.  I was not at that meeting, but I was made the Patron of AHA.  This means that even though  my “shelf-life” is coming to an end I can cajole people into doing things that might make a difference in the lives of poor people.

The AHA website has many practical suggestions that could make a difference, some of them we could all do without too much effort.  For example if you don’t already, you can give R 5 to the garage attendant whenever your car is filled.  This won’t fundamentally alter the material conditions in poor communities, but if each garage attendant at Engen down the road got R5 from  five people a day, he or she would earn at least a R100 extra per week.  Multiply that by 10 garage attendants and that would mean a R 1000 would find its way into the life of the township!  And then multiply it across the country at every filing station!

The list of possibilities whereby we can help make a difference to the lives of other people through authentic, hopeful action is endless if only we put our minds to it and get on with it.   At the very least we could go onto the AHA webpage, or talk to Theo over coffee,  to find out what even those of us whose shelf-life is short can do.  This is surely better than talking ourselves into a state of despair about the state of the nation!  Whether congenitally pessimists or optimists, let us be realists.  Poverty is a crime against humanity, especially in a country where there is so much wealth. We don’t need a AHA moment or movement to tell us.  But we do need to act authentically and hopefully, and maybe.  some help to know what we can do, to show by our works what our faith means.  Instead of saying AMEN or ALLELUIA today, let  us all shout  “AHA!”

John de Gruchy

Volmoed 12 February 2015

By the Way – Sat 24 January 2015: ‘The country truly belongs to all the people who live in it’

Originally posted on BY THE WAY ...:

There are two items of furniture in our cathedral, St George’s, that are symbols of how we South Africans can engage each other in the matters of the public square.
The one best known of the two is the pulpit. The preacher, before entering it, is encouraged to pray, as did Saint Anselm of Canterbury, for an eloquent and gentle wisdom. A mouth proclaiming, “words of consolation, edification, and exhortation, that I may encourage the good to better things.” The more often honoured temptation is to preach at people. We are less inclined to affirm more splendidly how God believes in their ability to bless the world with their gifts and commitment.
Then there is the bishop’s chair, occupied on occasions of solemn rectitude. It is suggestive of listening and speaking in the manner of conversation. Being silent and engaging in spirit and the will to understand how we are…

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