Observing Advent – Day 06 – Awake
At the Urbana Missions conference I attended while in college, I remember one of the speakers exhorting all in attendance to “Wake up” to the needs of the world for justice, reconciliation, and for the hope that is there in Christ. He said it over and over throughout his message and when I think of a message in the word, Awake, I think of him.
I thought of that exhortation as I heard the news yesterday about the death of Nelson Mandela. I was a teenager when I first remember hearing about Mandela and his imprisonment in South Africa and the push that began world-wide about fighting against the apartheid policies of the South African government. The movement he was the face of was probably the first world-wide justice movement that I really began to be aware of at the time. He made me wake up to the need that was in South Africa, and by extension, throughout the world and even here in America in the reconciliation that is still needed.
I love the words that he shared in 1990 –
“Great anger and violence can never build a nation. We are striving to proceed in a manner and towards a result, which will ensure that all our people, both black and white, emerge as victors.”
What a world that would be if more of our leaders would approach the problems of the world in that way. Not win or lose, but win win. Not Democrats scoring points on Republicans or vice versa but what is best for all people throughout our country.
He also embodied the patience with which we must be willing to work towards the needed changes in our world. We so desire for immediate and fast changes that the slow and small changes are often felt as more frustrating than anything else. As I was listening to a remembrance of him on NPR last night, I was moved by a story about him playing chess against a fellow inmate while in prison.
As we think about the world that we live in today, Mandela examples in deed and in world should point the way for us to live to work towards fighting the injustices that are throughout the world – whether it is the continuing needs for racial reconciliation and equality throughout, the work towards ending human trafficking and modern day slavery, the oppression of minority groups, and so on and so on.
In his autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom, he wrote:
“I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended…”
Nelson Mandela’s long walk on this earth has ended and he has received the reward for his faithful life. But the call that he gave for all of us to wake up to the injustices of the world and be willing to sacrifice continues as we all walk that road.