Pentecost broadcast by the Archbishop of Cape Town

In an audio message recorded for Pentecost, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has linked the celebration of the beginnings of the Church to the creation of a society that is “neither Afrophobic nor xenophobic.”

In an audio message recorded for Pentecost, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has linked the celebration of the beginnings of the Church to the creation of a society that is “neither Afrophobic nor xenophobic.”
 
Speaking against the backdrop of recent attacks by South Africans on migrants from other parts of Africa, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town likened the diversity of languages spoken at Pentecost, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, to the languages spoken by migrants in South Africa today. 
 
He said in the message:
 
“To grasp what Pentecost means for us, here and now, imagine if in South Africa today, we found ourselves able to speak, not in our mother tongue but in one of the hundreds of other languages of Africa. Not only would we be hearing all the languages of South Africa: we would hear the languages of recent migrants to South Africa: kiSwahili, Kirundi or French; we might hear Somali or Arabic; isiNdebele or chiShona; xiRonga or Portuguese.”
 
The archbishop went on to ask: “Would we be called amakwerekwere? No! We would need to be reminded, as Peter told the crowd, “These men (and dare I add women) are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!”  We would need to be told, rather, that we have received the Holy Spirit.”
 
Among the migrants who have settled in South Africa in recent years are citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. 
 
He added: “Pentecost tells us that right from its inception, the Church broke down barriers between people: linguistic barriers, geographical barriers, the barriers raised by the notion of nation states, even religious barriers. 
 
“In other words, from our inception as Church, the Holy Spirit birthed a nation set apart, a nation that is neither Afrophobic nor xenophobic, a nation comprised of people of all faiths and none, all listening, hearing and all transformed into witnesses by what Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John is the Spirit of truth who will guide us into all truth.”
 
THE FULL TEXT OF THE MESSAGE FOLLOWS. TIMESTAMP INCLUDED FOR TEXTS ABOVE:
 
Pentecost and Xenophobia – Archbishop Thabo Makgoba
 
At Pentecost, we Christians celebrate the birth of our Church, marked by the empowering of Jesus’s Apostles by the Holy Spirit.  So Pentecost, and the season which follows, give us an opportunity to ask questions about the nature of the Church. Questions such as: What are we as believers supposed to become if we want to witness to the presence and the working of the Holy Spirit? 
 
In the Church in Midrand where I worshipped on Pentecost Sunday, we read from chapter 37 of the book of the prophet Ezekiel, in which the prophet is set in a valley that was full of dry bones. I call that passage in the Old Testament my own personal conversion passage. Let me tell you why. 
 
I grew up in Alexandra Township, in Johannesburg, and I recall vividly how the Rev Sam Buti, a leader of the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa and the schools chaplain in Alex, linked the image of the dry bones in that text to the frequent gang killings that happened there. In particular, he warned us that one day all of Alex would be a valley of dry and dead bones if we didn’t pluck up the courage to root out the gangs.  
 
As an adult, I now understand this passage to challenge leaders to have the courage to bring tangible hope and transformation in spite of the death, destruction and despair that surround us. 
 
It prophesies a world in which God’s way of life and love will prevail, in which the barriers between us will be broken down, in which we act with sensitivity to one another lest we create the conditions in which atrocities occur, such as those we have seen in Burundi, in northern Nigeria, or Matabeleland, or those we experienced under apartheid, or – further afield — those being experienced in Iraq and in Syria today. 
 
The description of the Day of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles aptly captures the theme of breaking barriers, or transformation. For, to people’s utter bewilderment, they find themselves speaking, as scripture tells us, the languages of the “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; [of] residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; [of] visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); [of] Cretans and Arabs.” 
 
At 3.42 minutes
 
To grasp what Pentecost means for us, here and now, imagine if in South Africa today, we found ourselves able to speak, not in our mother tongue but in one of the hundreds of other languages of Africa. Not only would we be hearing all the languages of South Africa: we would hear the languages of recent migrants to South Africa: kiSwahili, Kirundi or French; we might hear Somali or Arabic; isiNdebele or chiShona; xiRonga or Portuguese. Would we be called amakwerekwere? 
 
No! We would need to be reminded, as Peter told the crowd, “These men (and dare I add women) are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!”  We would need to be told, rather, that we have received the Holy Spirit. 
 
At 4.52 minutes 
 
Pentecost tells us that right from its inception, the Church broke down barriers between people: linguistic barriers, geographical barriers, the barriers raised by the notion of nation states, even religious barriers. In other words, from our inception as Church, the Holy Spirit birthed a nation set apart, a nation that is neither Afrophobic nor xenophobic, a nation comprised of people of all faiths and none, all listening, hearing and all transformed into witnesses by what Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John is the Spirit of truth who will guide us into all truth. 
 
At 5.48 minutes
 
So Pentecost is an opportunity for us to celebrate God’s creation of this wonderful community called the Church; God’s people who are known by their love, life, faith, truth and courage; God’s people who are urged to speak up against rot, unfairness and false accusation; and equally God’s people who are able to celebrate, to laugh, to marvel at our creation and to revere diversity. 
 
May we through this spirit know Jesus with our hearts and minds and in our deepest beings, and may we bear witness to Him in our country, our continent and around the world, bearing the fruit of the spirit that lasts forever. 
 
Total length: 6.50 
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