Yesterday the rain drenched heavens and earth could not dampen the hope of the tens of thousands of people in Johannesburg, South Africa, or the hundreds of millions throughout the world who paused to honor the life of Nelson Mandela.
Not only did Mandela lead the world in his vision of race reconciliation but he also worked tirelessly to fight AIDS, bring peace to warring nations, and promote respect for LGBT rights (South Africa became the 5th country in the world to legalize gay marriage).
So, yes, a mighty figure may have died at the age of 95. But travel around Africa & the world, and you see his imprint, his legacy, and his spirit. Mandela lives… kindled by the eternal flame..the light.. that so inspired Isaiah, inspired John, inspired Jesus, and inspires us now. Inspired by his vision and his perseverance and his capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation, even through the 27 long years in prison, may we never lose hope for what is possible in our lives, or in the world. May it begin with each one of us.
I close with Mandela’s words from his inauguration that speak to our greatest needs today.
“Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.
The time for the healing of the wounds has come.
The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.
The time to build is upon us.
We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.
We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.
We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.
Let there be justice for all.
Let there be peace for all.
Let there be work, bread, water & salt for all.
Let each know that for each the body, the mind & the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.
Let freedom reign. God bless us all. Amen”.