Today The Episcopal Church commemorates the life and work of Nelson Mandela. His story is one which is likely familiar to most of us. From political work in apartheid South Africa, to years in prison, to presidency Madela’s life warrants study and reflection. Words cannot do justice to the immensity of his dedication to liberation. As noted in A Great Cloud of Witnesses: “Nelson Mandela is a universal symbol of freedom and reconciliation, an icon representing the triumph of the human spirit.” (Read more here.)
Over the past couple of months, members of the congregation have begun a journey together engaging the work of racial reconciliation. This work is challenging, but it is critical that we engage in it. As Bishop Curry says, “We are following Jesus into loving, liberating, life-giving relationship with God, each other, and the earth.” This way of following Jesus must include the dismantling of racism. This way of following Jesus also follows in the footsteps of Mandela.
Today, I will meditate on the trials and victory of the people of South Africa. I will consider the honesty, risk, and forgiveness that was required to reach reconciliation. And I will be bolstered for the work I have yet to do.