The Rev. Neal Presa, moderator of the PC(USA)’s 220th General Assembly (2012), the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly, and Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, issued a call to prayer “for a world in mourning at the death of Nelson Mandela, the first black president of a free South Africa, international peacemaker, human rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner.”
The full text of their call:
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.’ (Revelation 14:13, NRSV)
Everliving God, whose countenance greets us at the birth of life, whose love accompanies us in our laboring days, and whose gracious welcome grants us the final rest at the twilight of our years, we look to you in this hour, as did your servant and our brother, Nelson Mandela. Into your eternal comfort, gracious Lord, we commit his soul, where in your everlasting abode, in your very heart, he finds his peaceful rest.
With grateful hearts, we offer our thanks to you, Lord, for the life and witness of Nelson Mandela among us, who, like the prophets of old, showed us and the world the way of truth and life in his unwavering commitment to equality for all and to healing and reconciliation in a divided and broken world, at great cost to himself and his family.
We give you thanks, faithful God, for you accompanied Nelson in his years of imprisonment, strengthening his resolve, kindling and keeping the flame of hope in him alive that one day his beloved South Africa would see neighbor loving neighbor, not as a divided and defeated people partitioned by skin color, ideology or region, but finding common cause in their humanity as people created in your image, and therefore precious in your sight.
Loving God, who as Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, you showed us the ways of your kingdom and what servant leadership is about, we remember your son, Nelson, as one whom you anointed to serve as a leader of South Africa and the world for a generation, whose words of wisdom, acts of courage, and humble spirit testified to the power and possibilities of your grace that knows no bounds. Through one man, you have touched the lives of so many.
In life and in death, in body and in soul, we belong to you, loving Lord. So, in this hour, unite us in prayer as we grieve with the Mandela family. Accompany them with your generous and embracing love in their hour of mourning. Turn their weeping to singing, their downcast heads to dancing, and keep alive in their hearts and in ours your vision of a better and just world, even that same dream that you placed upon Nelson’s soul, and for whose labors we trust you will offer the word, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
In the name of your servant Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
See you along the Trail.