Grace and peace to you and through you
At the start of another year I invite you to re-read the preamble of South Africa’s Constitution. These words could have come straight out of the mouth of Jesus. They embody so many of his priorities and they do so in such a helpfully contextualised way…incarnating Jesus’ call among us.
The words of the preamble begin with “We” and not “I”. A bit like the Lord’s Prayer starting with “Our” and not “My”. In other words, we cannot live out these words on our own—we will do it together or not at all. The first injunction—to “recognise”—reminds us of how Jesus used to open people’s eyes to see anew. We are called to recognise injustices (our sin) in the past…and present. Sin is the choice of death over life. The words that follow after recognising the injustice, places us on the path of repentance and reparation beginning with the honouring of those who have suffered for justice and freedom, and ending with the truth that we are all fundamentally one family with the rest of the world.
We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to
Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and
Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.
May God protect our people.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba
sa heso. God seën Suid-Afrika.
God bless South Africa.
Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika.
Hosi katekisa Afrika.
I share this with you not only to remind us of our contextualised task, but also to remind us that Gospel comes to us through the Scriptures and through many other texts—for the Spirit blows where it wills…and she refuses to be captured. May we be able to discern the Spirit’s life-giving invitation in South Africa today.
Grace and Peace to you,
While visiting my brother in Knysna over New Year I had the opportunity to stay at a small home that was almost completely “off the grid”. The micro home was built in part using a shipping container together with discarded building materials that had been recycled. The entire roof structure was linked to a number of different JoJo tanks providing the only water on the property – which by the way tasted comprehensively delicious. There was a compost toilet – with a beautiful tranquil forest view. Gas was used to cook and heat water. I was so moved and inspired by how Dion, the owner, lives his life. What a gentle and respectful witness. I left there saying: “I want to live more like that”.
What moved me most was the fact that we had a limited amount of water. Knowing this made it taste and feel so sacred. To collect the water in a bucket from the JoJo tank to do the washing up, etc. was a conscious and deliberate act of using the water, instead of mindlessly opening a tap as would normally be the case. I also realised how little water I actually can get by on and thereby realised how much water I waste on a daily basis – by simply using more than I actually need to use.
Living in the way Dion lives assures that we live close to the consequences of our living. With a compost toilet one realises that we produce waste and that it actually needs to be managed and “go somewhere”. To use precious water to flush it “away” can end up mindlessly detaching us from this aspect of our living. To live with real water limits works wonders in shaping a respectful and even reverent relationship with the water we use.
So this LENT (which begins on 10th February) I invite you to fast.
To fast is to live with limits. The first fast was given as Divine instruction for daily living in the Garden of Eden: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” To live without limits is to die. To fast is to live. To fast is to bring life.
This LENT, in the year of one of South Africa’s worst droughts, let us fast – live with limits – in relation to water. Perhaps our water fast will help us to hear Jesus’ crucifying cry: “I thirst” more acutely. This is the cry of an ever-increasing number of people.
According to Institute – Water for Africa, the UN say that a human being needs 50 liters of water per day in order to prepare meals and to have enough for personal hygiene. 50 liters of water per day are necessary in order to avoid diseases and to retain efficiency.
However, many humans in Africa must get along with 20 liters water per day. Depending on the power output of ones shower – 20 liters is the quantity of water that we use when having a shower for 2-3 minutes. The practice this fast faithfully we are first going to have to calculate how much water we actually use on a daily basis and when. This will move our relationship with water from mindlessness state to a conscious state.
This LENT let’s limit ourselves to a maximum of 50 liters of water per day – remembering that there are many in our land who do not have the privilege of voluntarily reducing their water usage to less than 50 liters – in fact many are forced to live on much less.
Covenant Prayer Preparation
I am no longer my own but yours, O God.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blesse?d God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
Please reflect on the words of this great prayer in preparation for our Covenant Service on January 31.