Reflecting upon what is happening between Israel and Palestine vs. what is happening in South Africa, Judge Dennis Davis is quoted to have said: “Over there they are talking about divorce – but here we are talking about marriage”.
Divorce and darkness vs marriage and light
I am not sure what the good judge would say about the coming together of West and East Germany in the early 1990s. Were they also talking about a marriage between the two geographical entities (which after all consists of one “volk” and therefore have much in common) or do they prefer the more neutral word of “uniting”? Or are they merely building a partnership or perhaps only trying to make a co-operation agreement work there? Or do they merely strive for “cohesion”?
Words create worlds, and it is important that we are clear which words we use when and why we use it.
This expression, according to Dr Nick Binedell, the founder of GIBS in Johannesburg, is a mantra that will lead any individual, organization, institution or country to a better future.
It resonates well with the Biblical expression: “Where there is no vision, the people perish (or parish!)”. (Proverbs 29:18)
But how does it resonate with the expression from Archbishop Tutu: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history”? We should desire to learn from history so that we do not repeat the mistakes of our individual and collective histories.
It is clear that history cannot simply be forgotten. Amnesia is not an option. But in faithfully learning about history from many different perspectives, how does one ensure that it does not consume you, imprison you or make you bitter and cynical? Can a knowledge of history liberate us?
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”.
A story is told about a young boy who wanted to test a sage. He held a small little bird in his two cusped hands and said to the sage: “Is this little bird dead or alive?” In his mind he thought: If the sage says “dead” then he will simply open his hand and allow the bird to fly away. If the sage says “alive”, he will crush the little bird. The sage listened to his question and contemplated for a while. Then she answered: “Son, whether the bird is alive or dead, is in your hands”.
How do we cope with the enormous shock and loss of someone so inspiring, so generous in spirit?
Dr. Clint le Bruyns, the widely loved and respected South African theologian, intellectual and activist was 48 years old on the morning of 7 January 2021 when his body succumbed to Covid-19 related complications.
What do we do?
In his tribute, Rev. Moss Nthla (Chair: Kairos South Africa and General Secretary: The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa) responded as follows:
What do you do when a brave soldier falls in the middle of a fierce battle?
When the foe is not merely another tribe from across the river, but an empire arrogantly straddling the globe?
Corrupting the mind with theologies of death.
Enslaving the soul with the values of darkness.
Subjecting the majority of the peoples of the world to the falsehood that evil can trump good.
You celebrate. You celebrate a…
Before we end the year, it will be useful to look back on 2020 and reflect on what has happened and how VYLTP has been affected by it – and perhaps even begin to chart a way forward. Our mission at VYLTP is to “gather young leaders to form a safe space of learning, through courageous conversations, to foster wise leadership that empowers them to facilitate transformative justice in church and society”.
Covid-19 has taken its toll on our leadership programmes offered each year at Volmoed. Our programmes were built along the five themes of: Community; Healing and wholeness;, Creation and creativity; Reconciliation; and Peace and justice. We are hoping to revive these programmes when the virus has been slain.
Our current challenges have also forced us to think out of the box, and the outcome is a brand new online course kicking off in 2021, entitled ‘Beloved Community”.
Unfortunately, due to the current situation in Cape Town and across South Africa in regards to the COVID-19 cases: We have decided to cancel the Pilgrimage of Trust (in-person) gathering at Moravian Hill, which was scheduled for Monday, 28th of December 2020.
However, if you wish to participate in the Taizé International Online Meeting from the 27th of December 2020 till the 1st of January 2021: Please write to the Taizé Community informing them about your interest to join this experience. Here is the email to the Taizé Community: firstname.lastname@example.org The meeting is free, except for your data costs.
Also, please save the dates for the Volmoed Taize Pilgrimage of Trust days in 2021!
27 March; 16 June; 27 November.
Please let us continue to be prayerful, staying safe and looking after ourselves, during this difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic.