This year Reconciliation Day in South Africa was on a Sunday. After a bruising year of difficulties in SA, the nadir of which was the death of about 40 people at Marikana Mine in the North West, most of whom were shot by the police, this provided an opportunity to reflect, re-focus and to pray using music and words. As usual, words of familiar songs are adapted to fit the theme of the day.


 Christmas in Marikana






Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.


Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns!
Let song be heard on high;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.


He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

Introduction and Explanation

Africa Carol (Barrie, Paddy, Colin)


Barrie Low 2012

Verse 1

Born in a manger

Somewhere in Africa

Black babe smiles


This is the Christ

Promised so long ago

Coming to save

Our beloved Africa



Oh wher-e-e-e

Is the Saviour of Africa?

Is He hi-i-i-ding?

Is He simply not there?

Verse 2

Our Saviour grows up

The manger Is empty now

He travels the land

Seeking those who will love Him….even die for Him

But Africa responds

Why do we need You now?      We can take care of ourselves

Of Africa



Verse 3

Africa grows dark

Sufferings on the rise

The Christ we have forgotten

Gazes on …. Tears in His eyes

The story of the manger

A distant memory

And Christ awaits

A new African dawn.


And so-o-o-o-o-o

We come before the African manger

Before the One who promises Salvation

Salvation for Africa.


First Readings: Darkness

Juliet: It hasn’t been an easy year in South Africa. At times many people may have felt as if it had become dark – a light had gone out. Where are we going, groping in the dark. This is how it felt to Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings:

Drawing a deep breath they passed inside. In a few steps they were in utter and impenetrable dark. Not since the lightless passages of Moria had Frodo and Sam known such darkness, and if possible here it was deeper and denser. There, there were airs moving, and echoes and sense of space. Here the air was still, stagnant, heavy, and sound fell dead. They walked as it were in a black vapour made of true darkness itself that, as it was breathed, brought blindness not only to the eyes but to the mind, so that even the memory of colours and of forms and of any light faded out of thought. Night always had been and always would be, and night was all.

Alice: Words of darkness adapted from the Bible in Psalm 22:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us? Why have you left us all alone? Why are you so far from helping us? Oh God, our God, we cry – we cry to you in the daytime and you do not answer. We get no peace in the night because you are not with us.

Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness

Light of the world

You stepped down into darkness

Earthbound as Mary conceived.

Light now in darkness; Almighty made powerless

Mother supplies every need.


So here I am to worship

Here I am to bow down

Here I am to say that You’re my God

You’re altogether lovely altogether worthy

Altogether wonderful to me

And I’ll never know how it could be

That you’d take on such frailty

So here I am……

Second Readings: Hopelessness

William:  Many people looking at 2012 in South Africa might feel hopeless like Mr Christian did in The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Two men called Mr Christian and Mr Pliable were on a journey, looking for the joys of heaven that they had been told about. They were feeling very optimistic as they strode along the road.

Not looking where they were going, they suddenly fell into a muddy bog. The name of the bog was Hopelessness. They got completely covered with mud and Christian began to sink.

‘Oh!’, said Mr Pliable, what about all your optimistic talk now?!’ ‘I am so confused’, said Mr Christian.

‘Ag,’ said Mr Pliable angrily, ‘is this the heaven you told me about? If this is the way the journey is going to be, I’m off!’ And with a desperate effort he got out of the bog and went back to his little house and locked the door, leaving Mr Christian to struggle in the mud.

Mr Christian struggled and struggled but could not get out and was scared of drowning. Then a man came him: his name was Mr Help. ‘What are you doing in the mud, sir?, he asked.

‘Oh, sir’, said Mr Christian, ‘I was told about God’s Kingdom and I fell into this muddy hole on my way there.’

‘But why didn’t you use the steps to get out?’, asked Mr Help.

‘Steps?! I didn’t see any steps!’, exclaimed Mr Christian. ‘I was so full of fear in this pit that I didn’t see them.’

‘Here, take my hand,’ said Mr Help, and he helped Mr Christian back on to solid ground so he could continue his journey.

Natasha: Tik babies – a story from a hospital not so far from Christchurch

When we look at a newborn baby, we should see light and life and hope. On my weekend rounds in the nursery, I come to a cubicle of what are called ‘tik babies’: babies born to mothers who, often not finding hope themselves in their situations, turn to the drug ‘tik’. They are then prey to unintended pregnancies. They don’t use ante-natal care, continue using tik so the risks to the forming baby inside her mount up. Once born to this mother, does this baby have hope, I wonder?

Judy: Harry Potter and the Dementor

Harry was happily whizzing in the air on his Firebolt 2016 broomstick when suddenly the air around him went cold. He felt all his happy feelings, all his lightness up there in the bright air being sucked out of him. It was as if there was nothing to make you smile, life had become heavy, friendship faded (who were Hermione and Ron – just kids, ordinary irritating kids?). Then Harry saw the grey-cloaked Dementor and he knew that all that he was feeling was not true. He was Harry Potter; he was loved. Life did have purpose. This grey fun-sapping ghoul could not deny him his closest friends. Harry pointed his broom stick up to the sky and zoomed away.

Our next song is based on Psalm 42. The writer is feeling sad and desolate, and he talks to God.

As the deer

As the deer pants for the water
So my soul longs after You.
You alone are my heart’s desire
and I long to worship You.

Tears have been my food at night.
O why, my Lord, do you hide from sight?.
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship You.

Why, my soul, are you full of heaviness;
Unquiet deep inside?.
I’ll remember the times of happiness
When God has been my guide:

You alone were my strength, my shield
To You alone did my spirit yield.
You alone were my heart’s desire
And I longed to worship You.
You, my rock, why have you forgotten us?

Deep waters swirl around.

I’ll remember those times of mercy

When my God was my firm ground.

You alone were my strength, my shield
To You alone did my spirit yield.
You alone were my heart’s desire
And I longed to worship You.

Third readings: Remember God’s faithfulness

John: In Psalm 77, the writer finds a way to deal with darkness and hopelessness

Then I thought, ‘This is what I will appeal to: the years of the powerful hand of the Most High. I will remember what God has done, the miracles of long ago. I will think about all your works and meditate on your mighty actions. God, your ways are holy. Is anything in the universe as great as our God? With your mighty arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Your path led through the sea! – Your way through the mighty oceans though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Who has seen the film called ‘The Sound of Music’? Our next song comes from that show, but the words are a little different. It is not Raindrops on roses, or bright copper kettles. This version is about South African things that we can remember:

(My favourite things)

Albert Luthuli, a name we can cele-

brate with Chikane and Nelson Mandela.

Beyers Naude, Africa Enterprise, too;

Never forgetting one Desmond Tutu!


Archbishop Huddleston, then Michael Lapsley;

Think David Russell. Include Michael Cassidy,

Then cast your mind to nineteen ninety four;

God was with them and he still will do more!


When the rand falls, Marikana,

When I’m feeling sad –

Remember the things God has done in this land,

And then we won’t feel so bad.

Fourth readings: Good news to the poor.

Alice: The prophet Isaiah tells us how Jesus will come especially for the poor and weak of the world.

Here is my servant, who I support. He is my chosen one and I love Him. I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.

He will not shout loudly or scream, or raise his voice in the street. A damaged piece of grass he will not break; if there is a candle that has almost gone out, he will not let it die. He will faithfully bring about justice; he will not falter or be discouraged until he has established justice on the earth


Eric: More words from Isaiah about Jesus that is good to remind ourselves about in South Africa at Christmas time.

The Spirit of the Sovereign God is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to give hope to those people who are lost in hopelessness; to release people who are captives, and set the sad people trapped in deep darkness free.

He will love justice. He will hate robbery and stealing from the poor. He hates big differences between the rich and the poor, and he hates corrupt practices everywhere.

Now here is a Christmas song written by Andre Frieslaar, a member of Christchurch. Andre’s words remind us of why Jesus came to the world and how powerful he is.

Celebrate Messiah’s birth

Those who lived in darkness

Have seen a great new light

Prophets said the Christ would come,

To be the Saviour of the world.

Where or when we did not know

Star at Bethlehem did though

Shone above a cattle shed

In the silence of the night



Celebrate the Messiah’s birth

In a barn in Bethlehem

Sheep, cows and goats looked on as

Jesus Christ was born

Celebrate my Saviour’s birth

With the trav’lling three wise men

Shepherds drawn by angel choirs to

Gaze upon the King of the World


Verse 2

A holy child is born to us

You’ve given us your Son

The government will rest on Him

We will call him Wonderful

Counsellor, Almighty God,

Forever Father, Prince of Peace.

He will reign with power and love

That will last for evermore


Fifth readings: The birth of Hope: his birth, our re-birth

William: And now St Peter tells us how Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection give hope to those who believe in him and have faith in him. This is an important message for us to hear in South Africa where so many people are very poor.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into the living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Through Him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and your hope are in God alone.

Judy: The writer to the Hebrews does the same thing:

Hey guys, fix your eyes on Jesus! He is the one who gives us faith and he is the one who keeps us faithful. He went through all the pain of the cross because of the Hope He had in God. So think about Him, and don’t grow tired, guys; like – don’t give up.

It’s time to sing a favourite Christmas Carol that takes us right close up to baby Jesus. Let us fix our eyes on him as we sing Away in a Manger.

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head
The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The Baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes
I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
‘Til morning is nigh.


Sally: With all that is South African around us in this church, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.


In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,

Fullness of God in helpless babe!

This gift of love and righteousness,

Scorned by the ones He came to save:

Till on that cross as Jesus died,

The wrath of God was satisfied –

For every sin on Him was laid;

Here in the death of Christ I live.


There in the ground His body lay,

Light of the world by darkness slain:

Then bursting forth in glorious Day

Up from the grave He rose again!

And as He stands in victory

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,

For I am His and He is mine –

Bought with the precious blood of Christ.


Sally: The strong determined words of Psalm 71: verses 14-15 But as for me, I shall always have hope; I will praise you, God, more and more.


No guilt in life, no fear in death,

This is the power of Christ in me;

From life’s first cry to final breath,

Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man,

Can ever pluck me from His hand;

Till He returns or calls me home,

Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand



Water You turned into wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like You
None like You
Into the darkness You shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There’s no one like You
None like You

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God…

Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we Rise
There’s no One like You
None like You.

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God…
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God.

Natasha: It’s great to remind ourselves of what God has done in songs like that. Another way we can remind ourselves about what God has done is to celebrate Communion together. In these prayers, we hear Jesus himself telling us to remember him this way.


COMMUNION (Jeremy Jobling)

Natasha (after the invitation to ‘Draw near’): As we come up to receive communion together, we will be praying for South Africa in some prayers and songs. Please join in, please pray.


Prayers for the Nation

Judy (over the organ playing softly):

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise;
in deeper reverence, praise.

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace;
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm;
O still, small voice of calm.


Sally: A prayer of Hope for South Africa

A child is born

A point of light

Breaks into the night.

Exhausted mother

Wonders at the sight –

Sleeping in the straw,

Hope of a new dawn.

This truth she knows

When her child is born


Two bright eyes shine

From the infant’s face.

A tired old man

Feels their weight of grace.

From his joyful heart

A song of praise is drawn.

The gift of peace

When this child is born.


A country writhes

In the grip of pain.

“When will deliv’rance

Come to us again?”

Never give up hope:

Wounded, bleeding, torn,

Do not forget

That this child is born.


We bear this light

In our sparkling eyes.

The light of hope

In our ransomed lives.

All across the earth,

Tell the tired and worn

Good news of hope

That this child is born.


William: A prayer for good governance and a responsible and responsive civil service in South Africa

From heav’n you came, helpless babe,

Entered our world, Your glory veiled;

Not to be served but to serve,

And give your life that we might live.


This is our God, the Servant King,

He calls us now to follow Him,

To bring our lives as a daily offering

Of worship to the Servant King.


Lord, let them learn how to serve;

And in their lives to serve the poor.

The needs of others to meet.

To love our neighbour is your Law.


Lord, you are God, our Servant King

You gave your life, an offering.

Across this land, we now pray that you would bring

True serving hearts in governing.


(Leave a short pause for prayer and thought)


Natasha: A prayer against inequality in South Africa


See him lying on a bed of straw:

A draughty stable with an open door.

Mary cradling the babe she bore –

The prince of Glory is his name.


O now carry me to Bethlehem

To see the Lord appear to men!

Just as poor as was the stable then,

The prince of Glory when he came.


Lord, you knew a life of poverty,
Spurning riches for your ministry;
Guide those working for equality
In this country that you love.


Yes, that message was in Bethlehem

When Jesus first appeared to men;

Justice for the world was born right then:

As Judge of all things, Jesus came.


(Leave a short pause for prayer and thought)


William: A prayer for the mining industry in South Africa

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see you lie!

Above your deep and dreamless sleep,

The silent stars go by:

Yet in your dark streets shining

Is everlasting light;

The hopes and fears of all the years

are met in you tonight.


O mining town of Rustenburg

How restless we see you lie!

Above your deeply troubled sleep,

The Southern Cross goes by:

We pray that Christ’s light shining

Will penetrate dark night;

When hope appears to banish tears

And wrong will turn to right.


(Leave a short pause for prayer and thought)


Judy: A prayer for the agricultural industry in South Africa


The first Nowell the angel did say

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.


Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell.

Born in the King of Israel.


All is not well in our fields of today

Where the shepherds and harvesters work for low pay;

Where the farmer feels hard pressed and the vintner’s afraid.

And the minister scored F in her annual grade!


Not well, not well. No well, ja fine!

Lord, we are needing an answer divine!


John: Perhaps that ‘answer divine’ is already working. Here is an excerpt from a farmer’s letter written after the recent strike in De Doorns: ‘Maybe it is the fact that God prompted me several years ago to walk the dusty roads of the local squatter camp and engage with cast out people, to sit in the dust and to tell them that Jesus came with good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty for captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty the oppressed, to proclaim a new day.’ William: Proverbs 29: verse 7: “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern”.


A prayer for Manguang

William: This slide gives a simple outline of how to pray for the ANC conference in Mangaung. Why not write it down

Mangaung Prayer



Now let’s stand and sing a wonderful song of hope for South Africa. Jesus, life and hope for our thirsty land. We need rain, Lord Jesus!


Jesus, life and hope to heal our land

Saviour, reaching out with your mighty hand

Sing for Joy, Oh Africa

The Lord your God is risen upon you

Sing for Joy, Oh Africa

The Lord your God is risen upon you now


Jabulani, jabulani Africa (Jabulani, jabulani Africa)


Jesus, river of life to our thirsty land

Saviour, meeting our need with your mighty hand

Sing for Joy, Oh Africa

The Lord your God is risen upon you

Sing for Joy, Oh Africa

The Lord your God is risen upon you now


Final Communion prayers (Jeremy Jobling)


Father Almighty, we offer ourselves to you

Father Almighty, we offer ourselves to you

As a living sacrifice in Jesus Christ our Lord

Send us out into the world in the power of the Holy Spirit

To live and work to your praise and glory,

Your praise and glory.

Sung to ‘Jerusalem’, Hubert Parry

And do those feet in present time

Walk on our country’s mountains green?

And is the holy Lamb of God

On dry and dusty bushveld seen?

And does the countenance divine

Shine forth upon our fertile vines?

And is God’s Kingdom built up here

Among our deep and darkened mines?


Bring me my bow of burnished gold!

Bring me my arrows of desire!

Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!

Bring me my chariot of fire!

We will not cease from mental fight,

Nor shall our swords sleep in our hands,

Till we have built God’s Kingdom here

Across South Africa, our land!

Flag and Manger