This appearance involved taking a guided tour for the first time. The guide provideda great deal of new information about this magnificent venue
There are places I remember all my life
Lennon and McCartney got that right.
But there are also people I remember. And moments.
Moments I will remember as long as memory lasts. Moments that not only fill my mind as memories. Moments that fill my soul and spirit as the sights, sounds, feelings wash over me as though the moment had never ended.
The births of my sons.
The death of my father.
The murders of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy.
The fall of the Berlin Wall.
The release of Nelson Mandela.
Tonight I wept as I relieved such a moment.
I finally watched Lee Daniels’ The Butler. I had not seen it in the theater, but I added it to my Netflix list and it arrived this week.
The film provides much to ponder. Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan? Seriously?
The scene that touched me came near the end.
Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker, has retired from his position as a butler at the White House. He has reconciled with his son, Louis, played by David Oyelowo. His wife, Gloria, played by Oprah Winfrey, has died.
Cecil and Louis are in his house on November 4, 2008. The votes in the Presidential election are being counted. As the moment nears when the media will declare a winner, Cecil calls his son to come to the living room and watch. Louis arrives in time to see history happen.
As the newscaster in the film announces Barack Obama’s election as President of the United States of America, I found myself transported back to the night it happened. And I wept.
I wept in joy at Barack Obama’s victory. At progress made. At hopes realized. At the possibilities before us then and now.
I wept in sorrow at how much work remains to achieve racial justice. At the oppression, discrimination, and injustices my sisters and brothers endure.
I wept in frustration at shortcomings and failings of President Obama’s administration to meet the expectations of the moment. At potential unfulfilled.
But most of all, I wept remembering my friend Merdine T. Morris. Shortly after the media announced Barack Obama’s election, I called Merdine T. Together we laughed and cried and prayed.
The film scene transported me through space and time and as I heard again the joy and hope and pride and concern Merdine T. expressed that night.
Merdine T. recognized the historic significance of President Obama’s election. She also understood the arduous work that lay ahead for him and for our country as we continue to come to terms with the racism and other systems of oppression and discrimination dividing us. Merdine T. knew first-hand racism’s bitter sting and enduring power. She knew Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. personally as our mutual friend Carol reminded me. She knew hopes shattered and dreams, not only deferred, but devastated. She knew the tears that water and the blood that mark the road to justice.
But Merdine T. Morris never gave up. She held to faith. She held to hope. She held to love.
And so I wept tonight because Merdine T. and her husband Luke trusted me and were my friends, because Merdine T. and Luke welcomed me with grace, because Merdine T. and Luke accompany me in the Communion of Saints, because, to paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, writing about another unforgettable moment:
Her strength gives me strength
Her faith gives me faith
Her hope gives me hope
Her love gives me love
Tonight I wept in gratitude. And my tears were good.
See you along the Trail.
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.
Farewell, Mr. Mandela,
We never met. I never laid eyes on you in person.
But I saw and heard you on television. I read words about you. And I read your words.
steadfast pursuit of justice
enduring commitment to the people – all the people – of South Africa
understanding of the possibilities opened by forgiveness
willingness to look beyond what is to what could be
touched and awed and inspired me
and countless others.
I give thanks for you,
for your life, and
for your work.
I give thanks that,
though half a world lay between us
we shared life on this
little brown, green, blue rock.
I pray for your family
for you friends and colleagues
for the people of South Africa
for weavers of dreams
and workers for justice
who grieve at your death.
May we know comfort as we mourn.
May we have strength to join you in the struggle for freedom, justice, and dignity for all God’s children.
May we experience your presence accompanying us in that struggle.
Farewell, Mr. Mandela, farewell.
Started by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and promoted by the United Nations among others, this year marks the fourth celebration of Mandela Day. The day is about individuals around the globe giving 67 minutes of their time to make a change in their community and thus, the world. Mandela Day seeks to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately, it seeks to empower communities everywhere. The theme for this year’s observance is Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.
Why 67 minutes? First, remember that you can always give more than 67 minutes. Second, the idea is to make every day a Mandela day by doing some good for others. But again, why 67 minutes? The Mandela Foundation suggests that number because:
Mr Mandela spent more than 67 years serving his community, his country and the world. The number is symbolic of how people can start to do the same – one small step at a time – and so become part of a continuous, global movement for good.
Looking for something to do? Here are some activities already planned for the day. Find 67 ways to mark the day from the Mandela Foundation. Share what you do – post a comment here or use your own social media tools. Use your imagination!
I will post when I know what I will do. Until then, here are a few resources:
Make your plans now. I look forward to observing this day with you.
See you along the Trail.
Great Spirit of all,
We give you thanks
for the life and witness
of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,
who has touched our hearts and souls
in countless ways.
Speak your peace
and shower your grace
upon him and his family.
May all be assured
of your steadfast love
as his journey continues with you.
Let us wait with him
with faith, hope and love.
The Rev. Janice Stamper
Morris Forks, KY
Posted with her permission
and with gratitude for Janice’s
willingness to share her words.
Nelson Mandela, child of God, lies ill in a South African hospital. The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions has issued a call to prayer for Nelson Mandela.
In the words of the Council, Nelson Mandela:
helped a generation of young people find a voice for justice. He believed in the humanity of the other to the extent of engaging his own captors in conversations. He transformed an armed movement into a peaceful victory. He successfully established a process of forgiveness and reconciliation instead of revenge.
In our own fashion, each of us may pray.
As for me: I give thanks for Nelson Mandela; for his life and courage and grace and vision and witness. I pray for his comfort and strength. I pray for his family and friends who gather with him at this time. I pray for those who care for him. I pray for people who supported Mandela during the struggle for justice in South Africa and for people who draw inspiration from him to sustain ongoing efforts for justice around the world. I pray for South Africa. Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika. God bless Nelson Mandela.
See you along the Trail.