Today is the Fifa World Cup final in Johannesburg. Preceded by an abundance of excitement, and celebration amongst visitors and locals. Many visitors have praised the wonderful hospitality and friendliness of South Africans. African teams were warmly embraced. Bafana Bafana even became BaGhana, BaGhana, for the Ghanaians. We can be proud of the way we organized and delivered on the World Cup. What a jol!
Yet in the shadows of expensive stadia other foreign nationals, are fearful of their South Africans neighbours, whom they do not experience as hospitable and friendly, and who are threatening xenophobic violence. While so much of the threat is based on rumour and some criminal acts against foreign nationals, the horrific events of 2008, are still fresh, painful memories for many. The lack of services and competition for scarce resources in impoverished communities aggravate an untenable situation. All spheres of Government, NGOs and Faith Based Organizations have responded to the threats in different ways. A main concern is to ensure that the responses do not create a self-fulfilling prophecy, and precipitate violence.
We as church, Christians, community and South Africans are obliged to respond. Today’s lectionary reading shares the story of the Good Samaritan. Appropriately we could ask: But what if the attack on the traveller was xenophobic violence, then which character would we be?
We should respond to the current situation, but also in the longer term. Our humanity and unity in the faith is also harmed by this evil. Our own worship services provide a melting pot of human diversity and challenge. How are we becoming a more inclusive community at CMM? What are the deeper issues? What of our own demons?
We thank God for many who do act out their faith in society, sometimes at great cost to themselves. May we, as Jesus said, “then do the same”. Through the power of the Spirit we can. To do so, is living out our faith, individually as community and as church, and is affirming our humanity in the power and presence of God.
God’s Peace. Gilbert