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© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Special Christmas Service

This special service I attended during Christmas 1978 at God is Love Church (later renamed Kanana). New uniforms and positions were also issued at this service. People had come to Kanye from the Lands although it was during the ploughing season, and miners had returned from the mines in South Africa

The service started at about 9.30 p.m. on December 24th. The more junior members were singing hymns and dancing but the main Baruti had not yet arrived. For this service the church, a square, mud brick, tin-roofed building in the Bishop's yard had been re-smeared and white mud stars had been decorated all over the walls. I was called outside to greet the Bishop's wife (at that time a Motsetsi) and did not re-enter until about 11.00 p.m. By this time more people had arrived, then after about another half an hour the Bishop entered. He started a hymn outside that the rest of us took up, and we bowed to greet him. He joined the dance circle before retiring to a chair on the raised platform.

The first part of the service was for the new uniforms to be issued .  (See Section  UNIFORMS.)  

Then one of the Baruti asked for a prophecy, following this the Christmas Service was held.

The hymn "Halleujah" was sung. Then the Bishop's mother (the most senior woman) preached. She said it was time they had a child and the child was a boy. They had found him in a basket and she wondered who was going to take care of it. (Here she was referring to Moses in the Bullrushes). She continued that in the Bible it says that the Messiah will be seen by the Spirit and other people will also recognise Him.
She continued that a child had been found and been wrapped in linen and laid in a manger.

Another hymn followed. The Secretary was called to read Luke 2, v.6-14 and Matthew2, v. 1-11 (visit of the Kings). Another hymn followed and another woman came forward. She apologised that she was not good at preaching but would try. She expounded on the Wise Men visiting the infant Christ. She "dried up" and so another hymn was sung to empower to continue.

Then another woman came forward to preach. She talked about people who hear the Word but take no notice. She next referred to how the Wise Men saw the Star of Bethlehem and how King Herod became jealous and ordered the death of all small boys. He had tried to send spies to Christ in the stable. The Word said that Christ was born in a stable because all the houses were full. She asked for forgiveness, in case she also was dishonest like Herod. She herself, would have liked Christ to be born in her house. Next she talked about the scene where the Wise Men knelt before Christ. She concluded by asking for prayers to improve her preaching as she would like to learn how to do it properly.

Then a woman started a hymn "Bats have houses where they can sleep", this was followed by another woman preaching. She commenced by requesting prayers that her name could be written in the Book of Christ so that she could be called on the Day of Judgement. She repeated virtually the same sermon.

Another hymn "Receive them" was sung and another woman preached. She asked for prayers to help her to preach.
She was very shy and kept asking for forgiveness. She repeated the same sermon about the Wise Men from the East.
Then followed the hymn "We're making a poem about your name, 0 Lord", Another woman preached about Luke and emphasized the pains of childbirth, here she was drawing the attention of the congregation to Mary's labour pains. She returned to the theme of the Wise Men. Two hymns followed "If you ask me what my aim is, I'll say it's Jesus Christ", and "The soldiers of Christ are close to Him, their eyes are like weapons" and then the Church Secretary spoke about Herod, his jealousy of the baby Jesus Christ, and the way he had sent spies. This was followed by another hymn and another woman preaching, saying we had all heard St. Luke's reading and in that it said that we are going to live in Christ and die in Him. It was now the birthday of Christ but we did not know what we were expecting from the new baby, Just as when a person is cooking in a pot, one does not know in advance what the food will be like. Everyone should be happy because this was the day that Christ-was born.

Another hymn was sung and another woman emphasized that the Wise Men on seeing the Star of Bethlehem had been led to Christ's stable. Then later, the angel appeared to the shepherds, telling them not to be afraid as a Saviour had been born. The angel left them. The Wise Men followed the star and asked Herod (on their way) the way to the New King -in Bethlehem. Herod had heard this, became jealous and sent his spies to Bethlehem. The Wise Men had continued on their way to greet the new King. Then a hymn "I have a shepherd” followed. The same woman continued that she wished she knew all the books of the Bible so she could be good at preaching. She always asked God to give her power to preach. She used to know how to dance, but didn't know how to any more, so now she would like to be good at preaching so that she could preach the word of God all over the world.

Next followed hymns, during which one person had the Spirit strongly and even fell out of the door. A hymn was started by one of the miners, who commenced singing in a South African language, but the congregation continued it in Setswana: "Samuel, Samuel, Samuel, Halleujah". This was now the end of the Christmas service, so I left - 3.30 a.m. - but the service continued as an ordinary service until sunrise.

After dancing, the prophets revealed what the Holy Spirit has told them

Moruti stands in the middle whilst the Prophets dance around him, and the rest of the Congregation clap and sing hymns to “call the Holy Spirit to reveal the prophecies to the Mortuti

Christmas Service

This followed the prophesying of the Moruti and as this involved the Virgin Mary and the birth of the infant Christ, this part of the service was placed in the hands of the women. This Christmas service differed from regular services in that all the Bible readings and preaching was~on the Nativity and Christmas Story.

This service is interesting as it is seen that women had the main organization as the whole Christmas story is believed to concern “women's business”. Women also preached and in traditional Tswana society, women have a rather more important position than would appear to be the case in Karanga society, due to migrant labour and agricultural obligations (e.g. with men absent at the Cattle-post) women have to be given more responsibility

Women were in charge of the Christmas Service that followed the issuing of the new uniforms. They took it in turns to preach and expound on the Christmas story

God is Love (Kanana) Church built in the Bishop’s yard

Inside the church. The mud plastered walls have been decorated with stars of white mud