As I prepared, unexpectedly, at the end of last week to travel to Mpumalanga to lead a Memorial Service for a young man of twenty-eight killed the weekend of our Morning Market in a motorcycle accident, news of Nelson Mandela's death broke into our National consciousness. Young Robert, whom I had taught along with his wife of two months as Chaplain to Uplands College, had lived a short but full life, and we mourned the loss of his bright future and potential for greatness; Madiba's death has brought us to a stark awareness of the potential loss of our bright future as a Nation as we reflect on his life-commitment to freedom, non-racialism, reconciliation and human dignity, a vision lost to our present leaders and the party he so loved.
Parliament has put out a pamphlet paying tribute to Mandela titled Mourning a leader, celebrating a legacy. We have much to do as a Nation if we want this legacy to have traction, to inform and transform our future. I am in no doubt of our potential, but I struggle to identify leaders on our National stage with the integrity to give us the necessary momentum to embrace even a part of Mandela's iconic example and vision. Hopefully his death will disengage his legacy from party politics, and set him truly free to be an icon of hope to our Nation as he already is to the world; and set us free as individuals and communities to live his vision and truly transform our society.
Madiba's death serves to highlight the need for prayer for our country, and I do encourage you to participate in some form in our Day of Prayer at St Andrew's Church on the Day of Reconciliation, Monday 16 December 2013 from 7am through to 7pm.Meanwhile our Advent journey continues and we have the opportunity to embrace our Christian hope of new life, renewed Faith and vision for a transformed and meaning-filled future. The first two weeks of Advent have focused us on repentance and a call to awaken again to the purposes of God for our lives and community and world. The third week (known as Gaudate Sunday) refocuses us with a call to rejoice in thankful expectation. We mark this liturgically with a move from the more sombre purple vestments to a more celebratory rose (or deep pink), and the Gospel will focus us on John the Baptist who heralds the longed-for presence of God, the Kingdom of Heaven that is near, even and already in our midst: God-with-us!