Message from the chaplain

Revd Claudia Coustas

I have been reading Liturgies from below: Praying with people at the ends of the world (2020), by Claudio Carvalhaes. The excerpt below is taken from the preface to this book, written by Sudipta Singh who is mission secretary, research and capacity development to the Council of World Mission (CWM). Given the challenges we face as a school, as a country and as a world, I find these words apt:

“Prayer, according to Jewish theologian and rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods.”To put it differently, worship is a subversive activity that contests and overthrows the prevailing sinful order of injustice and inequality. For Moses, the burning bush experience at Mount Horeb was not only
an alternative experience of theophany; it was also a tutorial for an alternative understanding of worship. The alternative experience of theophany enabled Moses to reimagine God as the vulnerable One, deeply affected by the scars of slavery. In the vision of the burning bush, Moses encountered God as a co-sufferer who was embodied in the life stories of pain and struggles for freedom and dignity of the enslaved communities. The sacramental and liturgical symbol of fire in the burning bush provided Moses with an alternative understanding of worship. Worship should [instil] in the enslaved community the audacity to believe that the blazing fire of the Empire 1 cannot destroy the beauty of life. The green
leaves in the liturgy of the burning bush empowered Moses to believe in the possibility of a beyond of Egypt. Worship is therefore a life-changing experience where we are invited to [realise] and denounce our power and privileges in order to become credible and authentic comrades of the communities at the margins who are engaged in the salvific mission of turning the world upside down.”

In line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a five-day mourning period from 25 to 29 November in order to remember both those who have died as a result of Covid-19 and also victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), our South African flag has been lowered to half-mast. As a community, we continue to hold those who grieve the loss of a loved one, and all those affected by GBV, in our prayers.

The Collect set for the Feast of Christ the King, which we celebrated on Sunday 22 November:

Most High God, majestic and mighty,
our beginning and our end:
rule in our hearts and guide us to be faithful,
worshipping the One
who comes as Saviour and Sovereign;
and who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

In 2010, the CWM identified Empire “as the context in which we are called to be partners with God in God’s mission to transform the face of the earth” (p.18).

Revd Claudia Coustas

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