achildisbornFor to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

                                                        Isaiah 9:6
I had only just arrived at CCK when Anri de Klerk, a member of CCK and close friend, invited me to meet David Morin, a freelance commercial director with more than 30 years industry experience as an actor, director, producer and screen writer in Hollywood.
David shared with Anri his dream to make a documentary about Handel’s Messiah only to discover that Anri was a free-lance accountant to The Cape Town Youth Choir and personal friend of Leon Starker, the conductor; that the CTYC were currently rehearsing Handel’s Messiah which they would be performing at Groote Kerk on Saturday 29th August 2015; and that David had just moved into an apartment adjacent to Groote Kerk. He literally couldn’t be any closer to realising his dream. God’s initiative and purposes in bringing it all together was remarkable.
David and Anri filmed the choir and Leon in practice and concert and ‘Finding Messiah’ was created. It’s a wonderful documentary with an amazing sound track. Both can be purchased here and You Tube offers the concert recording for free, here.
When I listen to the Messiah, scripture takes on another dimension for me. One of my favourite parts is For Unto Us A Child is Born. Taken from the prophet Isaiah in 9:6, it speaks of the coming of a different kind of King and leader, whose government and rule would create and nurture ‘shalom’. Shalom is not, as is often stated, the absence of conflict. Peace, as we are experiencing in South Africa right now, is fragile unless accompanied by truth, justice and mercy. Shalom is experienced when our human relationships are rooted in the dignity, purposes and hope that God has ordained for every person as our Father and Creator.
This coming King would not abuse his power, position or authority to control or manipulate his citizens for his own gains or ends unlike his contemporaries Caesar, Herod, and the surrounding pagan Kings. He would instead choose to make ‘himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…’ humbling himself and becoming obedient to death (Phil 2:7). Power for this Lord would be expressed through the example of his self-giving love, meekness, humility, teaching, healing and liberation. His Servant leadership would expose and ultimately threaten the deep insecurity of his male contemporaries and the powers of his day. His persecution and crucifixion were their responses to try to eradicate the new world order that his kingdom was establishing.
As we approach this Christmas, we celebrate the coming of Jesus and his wonderful kingdom in our lives and our world. At the same time, we are conscious of all the situations where his kingdom is threatened by political, economic, religious and social injustice, corruption and abuse of power.
The unimaginable human suffering, destruction and living hell for citizens of Aleppo, Syria is one such example. But there are others closer to home, at CCK, we are welcoming more and more people from Burundi and DRC fleeing conflicts and instability, seeking employment and peace. The University protests have been a wake up call for the church and civil society that there is a growing movement within the younger generation that are angry with and intolerant of the unjust legacies of the past and any abusive power dynamics which continue to govern society.
Feeling overwhelmed by the extent of the human suffering and systemic injustices is understandable. Becoming angry, fatigued, or passive inevitable without the hope that Jesus’ rule reveals and imparts. The coming of Jesus - the one true King and his shalom fills us with fresh hope, imagination and strengthens us to prayerfully join in his work of transforming our hearts and world. Shalom is experienced when our human relationships are rooted in the dignity, purposes and hope that God has ordained for every person as our Father and Creator and made manifest in all the systems and structures which govern and nurture our life under God. 
On Monday evening, we gathered 50+ Peace Justice Witnesses who have been serving faithfully across our four universities to thank them for their incredible service and commitment to promoting justice, conflict resolution and peace-building. It was wonderful to see the diversity and unity of the Church in service together. PJWs came from St John’s Parish, Every Nation, the Methodist Church, The Great Commission Church Network in Khayelitsha and several independent churches. 
Alongside messages of thanks and appreciation from students and faculty staff, we had two special messages from University VC’s.
Max Price wrote:
‘We have had a stressful few months of protests and the witnesses have, I believe, often been helpful to all parties. I thank them individually and collectively for their volunteering  spirit, their time and commitment to take on the challenge of promoting peaceful protest in communities such as UCT.  The sacrifice or time and energy is remarkable and really appreciated.’
John Volmink, the Vice Chancellor at CPUT, joined us and shared his own personal reflections and thanks. You can listen to him here
I was struck by John’s concluding words:
‘Something new is happening… God is opening up possibilities to reimagine what can happen in this country…and you are living witnesses, not just peace and justice witnesses, but living witnesses of what God is doing in this world and I believe that [to be] Christians, is to stand with Christ amidst the brokenness and order alike… because that is where Christ has chosen to stand and it is not the place of power, glamour or comfort but it is always the place of significance…’
I pray that as we celebrate the birth of Jesus we will dwell in Isaiah 9:6, Phil 2:7 and John Volmink’s words and be renewed in our commitment and joy to imitate our Servant King Jesus as his living witnesses in the places of brokenness and order alike.
At the close of every concert, the CTYC gather privately to sing an old hymn: Servant Song. Forming a circle with arms around each other’s shoulders, they sing for an audience of One as sisters and brothers in Christ. It’s a sacred moment and a reminder that Christian worship establishes us in holy communion with each other and from which Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives us for the healing of the world. 
May Servant Song be our song.
Servant Song
Brother, let me be your servant.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.
We are pilgrims on a journey.
We are brothers on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh, I'll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we've seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven,
We shall find such harmony
Born of all we've known together
Of Christ's love and agony.
Brother, let me be your servant.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.

Annie Kirke, 15/12/2016


Christ Church Kenilworth  |  Cnr Summerley & Richmond Road  |  Tel: +27 (021) 797 6332  | E-mail:
Service Times: Sunday Worship  8.00am, 10.00am & 6.30pm  |  Wednesday Service: 10am   | Tuesday Quiet Service: 6.30pm (fortnightly)

Taryn Galloway, 06/05/2015