This appearance involved taking a guided tour for the first time. The guide provideda great deal of new information about this magnificent venue
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.
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.
Island, Prison, Quarry
On an island they would hide him
Separate him from the cause
He would not let them hide him
And his spirit it still soared
From the island his spirit soared.
In prison cell they would hold him
From his spirit choke all life
He would not let them hold him
And his spirit remained true
In prison cell he still stayed true
In the quarry they would break him
Crush his spirit like a stone
He would not let them break him
And his spirit remained strong
In the quarry he stayed strong
From the island, prison, quarry
One fine day he freely strode
And in his spirit we could see
That he was already free
Lord he always had been free.
His soaring spirit true and strong
Keeps him walking to this day
Won’t you rise and come along
And to freedom we will walk
It is to freedom that we walk
Originally written in 1990, this piece is no less sincere for its inadequacy to do justice to the man.
An interchange from the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade remains with me. Indiana (Harrison Ford) and his father Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) seek the Holy Grail. Nazis have also joined the quest. Henry Jones has long sought the Grail, finding a map and compiling a diary. To keep them safe, Henry sent the materials to his son and colleague Marcus Brody. Learning that the Nazis have kidnapped Henry Jones, Brody set off with the map. Indiana went to rescue his father. After a series of adventures, father and son escape. The following conversation occurs:
Professor Henry Jones: Stop, wait, stop! Stop! You’re going the wrong way. We have to get to Berlin.
Indiana Jones: Brody’s this way.
Professor Henry Jones: My diary’s in Berlin.
Indiana Jones: We don’t need the diary, dad; Marcus has the map.
Professor Henry Jones: There is more in the diary than just the map.
Indiana Jones: All right, Dad. Tell me.
Professor Henry Jones: Well, he who finds the Grail must face the final challenge.
Indiana Jones: What final challenge?
Professor Henry Jones: Three devices of lethal cunning.
Indiana Jones: Booby traps?
Professor Henry Jones: Oh, yes. But I found the clues that will safely take us through them in the Chronicles of St. Anselm.
Indiana Jones: Well, what are they? As his father sits silently, Indiana continues in an annoyed voice. Can’t you remember?
Professor Henry Jones: I wrote them down in my diary so that I wouldn’t have to remember.
An Anglican priest, Father Lapsley took an active role in the struggle against South Africa’s apartheid. In 1990, he opened a letter bomb that nearly killed him. The blast took his hands and one of his eyes. His book tells his story of the faith journey that led him to pursue justice, the explosion, his recovery, and how Father Lapsley has drawn on his experience of trauma to help his sisters and brothers in South Africa and around the world seek healing.
Many of his words bear repeating and remembering. I write down a few:
As we who are disabled demand a place in the sun, we are not just asking people to be nice to us; we are saying, “Actually you can’t be a real community without us.” We don’t ask for pity; we ask for justice. We say, “Don’t just include us in your community. Instead, come, let’s create one together.” That’s a very different concept.
Profound, challenging, humbling, hopeful words. Words that apply in so many situations – in any situation of privilege and oppression and exclusion. Words to ponder, to remember, and to seek to live by.
We cannot be a real community until everyone is a part and we build that community together. May it be so.
See you along the Trail.
This year brings Nelson Mandela‘s 94th birthday: 18 July 2012
To celebrate this day, the UN and the Nelson Mandela Foundation invites us to give 67 minutes to help others as a way to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day.
For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.
Find 67 ideas for marking Nelson Mandela International Day. You can add your own.
In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July of each year as “Nelson Mandela International Day.” The day recognizes the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.
Giving thanks for Nelson Mandela’s life and witness, may we follow his example on 18 July – and may we make every day a Mandela day when we serve one another.
See you along the Trail.