On Thursday 18 February, a few days after Valentine’s day, a group of young people, under the direction of Rev Seth Naicker of the Volmoed Youth leadership training programme (VYLTP), will start an online journey reflecting on what it means to be and become “Beloved Community”.
The Word and words
We will reflect on “the Word” – and on words.
- What words can heal and what words can hurt?
- What words can build and what words can break down?
- What words create and what words destroy?
- What words can encourage and what words can discourage?
- What words express or lead to aggression and violence and what words express non-violence or peace?
- The Word, the breath that spoke all Creation into being and that became flesh and dwelt amongst us, will be our guide throughout this journey.
Someone once said that “Words create worlds”. We are surrounded and confronted by words every day, and we would need to discern which words we will discard and which new words we will pick up.
Even though the course will be presented in English, participants will be asked to share words from within their own home languages and explain that to the rest of the group.
The importance of listening
The Afrikaans word “gehoorsaamheid” is normally translated as “obedience”. A better translation is “attentiveness” as it refers to people hearing together. If we are truly attentive to one another, we are being obedient. We can then learn to “Trust and obey”, building trust by being attentive to each other. How can we become more deliberately attentive?
The opposite of “Beloved Community”
When God confronted Cain about his brother Abel, he responded by asking “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This is the question of our time: to what extent are we our sister’s and brother’s keeper? And to what extent can we even be or become “Earthkeepers” if we cannot even be each other’s keeper?
Covid 19 is a time of revelation or apocalypse: revealing what is already there. We can now see more clearly. The way in which vaccines are being hoarded and distributed at the moment is a good moment to reflect on whether we are indeed each other’s keeper and what prevents us, the human family, from becoming each other’s and the Earth’s keeper?
The Church as “Beloved Community”?
How is it that countries who claim to be “Christian” (eg. Uganda) can be so undemocratic and violent? Why is there this disconnect between God’s dream of beloved community and how some societies are organizing themselves. South Africans have the experience of oppression under a so-called “Christian government” and “Christian constitution” which had an apparent covenant with God and who celebrated that covenant on 16 December each year.
How do we make sense of a church that often preaches one thing and practices the opposite? Is the Bible a tool of oppression or a tool of liberation? These are some of the question we will seek to grapple with and answer over the next few weeks.
Please pray for the young people and for Seth as they journey together over the next few weeks.