Posts Tagged ‘Nelson Mandela’

Archbishop of Canterbury preaches on the life of Nelson Mandela

Posted on: December 10th, 2013 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Most Rev. Justin Welby preaches at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, London, 9 December 2013. (Picture: Marc Gascoigne)

 

[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute to Nelson Mandela on Sunday at a special thanksgiving service for the life of the South African leader.

“Great injustice is overcome only by great courage. Evil can never be placated, it must be defeated. That means struggle, and struggles demand courage,” Archbishop Justin said in a sermon at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square.

The service, which was led by the Vicar of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, the Revd Dr Sam Wells, featured a live link to Christ the King church in Sophiatown in Johannesburg.

“Nelson Mandela showed his courage by his determination in the face of evil and by his humanity in the experience of victory. What is more, such courage and humanity were learned and demonstrated in the midst of conflict and suffering.

“He was that rarest of leaders, those who learn from terrible events so as to exhaust all their lessons, rather than being shaped by them into bitterness and hatred,” the Archbishop said.

In the sermon, which was broadcast live on BBC radio at the same time as prayers were held across South Africa, the Archbishop said Mandela “stood out, resisted and fought” the oppression faced by so many South Africans.

He added that the courage of Mandela, who died on Thursday at aged 95, was undefeated by 27 years in jail.

“His capacity to go on becoming more human was breathtaking. His guards grew to respect and even love him. One called him a father figure, whose absence was a bereavement.

“Robben Island was defeated by someone who could take everything it threw at him, and by melting courage into forgiveness to create the gold of reconciliation.”

Listen to the sermon on BBC iPlayer

Read the sermon below:

Readings: Exodus 14, Matthew 18:21 ff

Great injustice is overcome only by great courage. Evil can never be placated, it must be defeated: that means struggle, and struggles demand courage.

Nelson Mandela showed his courage by his determination in the face of evil and by his humanity in the experience of victory. What is more, such courage and humanity were learned and demonstrated in the mists of conflict and suffering. He was that rarest of leaders, those who learn from terrible events so as to exhaust all their lessons, rather than being shaped by them into bitterness and hatred.

Our first reading was the story of the Israelites escaping the oppression of Egypt. It is a story of liberation. God made it possible for Israel to escape. He rescued them when all was lost, and he defeated their enemies, so that the oppressors were destroyed.

Throughout history, this story has been one to which those who are suffering oppression have turned. It is hard to remember today the full evil of apartheid. Nelson Mandela recalled how at school, and in every part of his life, he felt its injustice. Oppression was his life, and those of the vast majority of the people of South Africa.

Not everyone responds to such treatment with resistance. Many of us would have  kept our heads down, made what we could of life, looked after those close to us, and closed our eyes to what was happening. We would have said to ourselves, “Life is tough enough, do not make it worse by swimming against the tide”.

But Mandela had courage that showed itself in leadership. He stood out, resisted, and fought. He faced the insult of being labelled a terrorist for fighting for his own people, the absurdity of trial for treason against an utterly wicked regime. At the height of the Cold War, with South Africa seen by many as a dependable ally protecting the seas around the Cape of Good Hope, he had little overseas support. One of the great pressures of conflict is loneliness: he faced solitude and isolation and continued the struggle.

Resisting evil is a call of God. Christians disagree about whether force is justifiable, but are at one that resistance is essential. Easy to say, how hard to act! More than that, the act of resistance opens our souls to harm. In fighting hatred, we risk becoming what we resist. History is full, especially in the 20th century, of evil overthrown – to be replaced by worse.

Archbishop Tutu commented, “I often surprise people when I say this. Suffering can lead to bitterness. But suffering is also the infallible test of the openness of a leader, of their selflessness. When Mandela had gone to jail, he had been one of the most angry. The suffering of those 27 years helped to purify him and grow the magnanimity that would become his hallmark. Jail helped Mandela learn how to make enemies into friends. It also gave him an unassailable credibility. When you speak of forgiveness, 27 years in prison sets you up very nicely.”

“27 years in prison sets you up very nicely” – only someone like Tutu has the right to say that, because he took the same risks. 27 years, add it to your age, think about what you would be like at the end. 27 years of hard labour, pointless oppression, petty insults. Yet in that school of hatred he learned to treasure the ideal of a just nation. That is a second aspect of his uniqueness. His courage was undefeated, indomitable, extraordinary. His capacity to go on becoming more human was breath-taking. His guards grew to respect and even love him. One called him a father figure, whose absence was a bereavement. Robben Island was defeated by someone who could take everything it threw at him, and by melting courage into forgiveness, create the gold of reconciliation.

In the Exodus story God brings freedom, but the Israelites have to struggle and trust. So it is with us. Jesus Christ gives us freedom. We must take it and struggle for it and stand for it, as did Nelson Mandela. And yet there is more.

Peter, in the reading from St Matthew, is looking for a natural limit to forgiveness. Jesus’ answer says there is no limit. Don’t do the arithmetic, learn the point. We are called to forgive forever. Few manage it. Nelson Mandela was one of the few. He did not merely call for resistance, he led it. He did not merely demonstrate and call for forgiveness, he put in place a constitution and governing system that faced evil and defeated it with truth and reconciliation. Leadership is not seen merely in policy, but making policy practice. It is what Jesus calls his followers to do along with him.

And there lies the challenge. Where do we find those who carry on his work? Pray for South Africa as it mourns. Ask God for every nation to have leaders who are full of courage and resist evil, who learn from suffering, who turn that learning into love and make both into reality. And thank God for Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s amazing grace.

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Episcopal News Service, December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid icon

Posted on: December 5th, 2013 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Marites N. Sison on December, 05 2013
 


Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, with Archbishop Ted Scott (standing behind him), in a candid photograph during his visit to Toronto in 1990. Photo: General Synod Archives


 

Nelson Mandela, known worldwide as the symbol of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle died today, Dec. 5, at his home in Johannesburg.  He was 95. 

Imprisoned for 27 years because of his political activities, Mandela was released on February 11, 1990, and nearly four years later became South Africa’s first black president.

Mandela’s connections with religious institutions, including the Anglican Church of Canada, run deep. In 1999, he acknowledged the role that faith groups played in his own life as well as those of his fellow South Africans.

“Without the church religious institutions, I would never have been here today,” he told a meeting of the Parliament of World Religions in 1999. “To appreciate the importance of religion, you have to have been in a South African jail under apartheid, where you could see the cruelty of human beings to others in its naked form. It was religious institutions [that] gave us hope that one day we would come out of prison.”

Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and people of other faiths also raised funds for the children of thousands of political prisoners, he added.

In Canada, among those who rallied Anglicans and Canadians in challenging apartheid and in calling for the release of all political prisoners was the then primate, Archbishop Ted Scott.  In 1986, Scott became Canada’s representative in the Commonwealth’s Group of Eminent Persons, founded by the Commonwealth of Nations to investigate apartheid in South Africa. The group went on to recommend economic sanctions against the South African regime.

Scott’s support was not lost on Mandela, who referred to the archbishop as “a great defender of the rights of all, a beacon in the struggle against racism everywhere.”

Upon learning of Scott’s death in June 2004, Mandela paid tribute to Scott “for his intimate and incisive role—one that helped change the course of history in our country.”

Scott’s role in the Group of Eminent Persons “represented a significant turning point for the struggle,” said Mandela in a letter sent to the Anglican church. He recalled “critical meetings” with Scott, who visited him while he was still confined at Pollsmoor Prison.

Scott and Mandela would meet again on June 18, 1990, but this time the South African leader was a free man visiting Canada. Scott was among those who welcomed Mandela, who said he had come to personally thank Canadians for helping to work for his release from prison.

In a speech on Parliament Hill, Scott paid tribute to Mandela, saying his life “continues to serve as an international symbol of the struggle for human and democratic rights for all, and whose leadership represents the best hope for peaceful resolution of historic injustices.”

Scott also introduced The Nelson Mandela Fund/Fonds Nelson Mandela, a non-profit, non-registered Canadian public trust that encouraged Canadians “to assist, on a timely, meaningful basis, in advancing dialogue and change within South Africa.”

Scott urged Canadians to donate to the fund “and support South Africa’s movement from apartheid to a system that frees South Africans to pursue the full benefits of citizenship.”

During his visit to Canada, Mandela received honorary Canadian citizenship from the Senate of Canada and the House of Commons, which noted that the courage he displayed “throughout his life of standing by his principles in the face of trials and sufferings is an inspiration not only to South Africa but to the entire world.”

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Anglican Journal News, December 5, 2013

The Primate reflects on Nelson Mandela

Posted on: December 5th, 2013 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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                                                                                                                                          Reuters/Mike Hutchings
 
 
 
By Fred Hiltz, Archbishop and Primate
 
 

Today the world mourns the passing of one of the greatest men of our times.  Nelson Mandela’s life is the story of the prisoner who became the president of his beloved country.  He is the icon of South African’s long road to freedom from apartheid.  He is “the father of our nation”, writes Desmond Tutu, “the pride of our people.”

Mandela only ever looked back to remember those who had been so sorely oppressed, who suffered and died.  He looked ahead and with a strength of spirit that was unwavering. He pressed for truth and reconciliation in his homeland.  So impressive was his foresight that it inspired the same kind of work so necessary in numerous other countries as well. 

Mandela stood tall among his people and he gave them hope for a better future.  He spoke as one in whom wisdom had made his dwelling.  He acted with a humility that had about it a sense of authority the world will never forget.  All his labours were a wonderful reflection of a life given to the teaching in the Beatitudes, perhaps most especially the one that reads “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for thy will be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

Mandela loved much.  Who can even forget his wonderful smile?  For his family and his people he lived, and in their great love for him he died.

“We pray that nothing good in his life will be lost but be of benefit to the world; that all that was important to him will be respected by those who follow him; and that everything in which he was great will continue to mean much to us now that he is gone”.  (Prayer of Thanksgiving, The Funeral Liturgy, p 602, Book of Alternative Services)

Mandela is destined to be remembered in the calendar of holy men and women through the ages. To give ourselves to the work of “transforming unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation among all people,” (the Fourth Mark of Mission) will be to truly honour his life and his labours.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, December 5, 2013

 

A Statement by the Primate on Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday

Posted on: July 18th, 2013 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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WIKIMEDIA / SOUTH AFRICA THE GOOD NEWS / WWW.SAGOODNEWS.CO.ZAJuly 18, 2013 – With South Africans and millions of others around the world we rejoice that Nelson Mandela has lived to see his 95th birthday.

We give thanks for what manner of man he has been for his people, and what stature of man he has been for all of humanity.

Though he remains frail in body, he continues strong in spirit.  As we give continual thanks for his life and labours for justice and peace, these verses of Psalm 85 come to mind.

“Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.”

Fred J. Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, July 18, 2013