Today is a public holiday in South Africa. It is “Heritage Day”, the day on which we South Africans celebrate the contributions that all South Africans have made towards building this beautiful country of ours. I cannot however help feeling a little sad about the celebrations.
You see, I get the sense that what is lacking in our heritage day celebrations is an acknowledgment of the role that God has played in creating this “Rainbow Nation”, as Archbishop DesmondTutu called it. Our Christian heritage is forgotten and we have progressed further and further away from it, all due to our endeavours to be all things to all people.
Today Christians should make a point of praising God that we achieved a true democracy despite the fact that the odds were against us.
What better way could there be to do that, than through the beautiful words of the Te Deum.
We praise you, O God:
we acclaim you as the Lord.
all the world bows down before you.
All the angels sing your praise,
the hosts of heaven and all the angelic powers,
all the cherubim and seraphim
call out to you in unending song:
Holy, Holy, Holy,
is the Lord God of angel hosts!
The heavens and the earth are filled
with your majesty and glory.
The glorious band of apostles,
the noble company of prophets,
the white-robed army who shed their blood for Christ,
all sing your praise.
And to the ends of the earth
your holy Church proclaims her faith in you:
Father, whose majesty is boundless,
your true and only Son, who is to be adored,
the Holy Spirit sent to be our Advocate.
You, Christ, are the king of glory,
Son of the eternal Father.
When you took our nature to save mankind
you did not shrink from birth in the Virgin’s womb.
You overcame the power of death
opening the Father’s kingdom to all who believe in you.
Enthroned at God’s right hand in the glory of the Father,
you will come in judgement according to your promise.
You redeemed your people by your precious blood.
Come, we implore you, to our aid.
Grant us with the saints
a place in eternal glory.
Lord, save your people
and bless your inheritance.
Rule them and uphold them
for ever and ever.
Day by day we praise you:
we acclaim you now and to all eternity.
In your goodness, Lord, keep us free from sin.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
May your mercy always be with us, Lord,
for we have hoped in you.
In you, Lord, we put our trust:
we shall not be put to shame.