Greetings in the name of our Crucified and Risen Lord, Jesus Christ!
After a punishing April schedule which included Holy Week, Easter Celebrations, meetings in London as well as the rededication of Wesley House Cambridge, I returned to the tranquility and natural beauty of Volmoed (meaning full of courage and hope) Retreat Centre tucked away in the Hemel-en Aarde (Heaven and earth) Valley, Hermanus, South Africa. (www.volmoed.co.za)
Every day the Volmoed community gathers to worship and on Thursdays they celebrate the Eucharist. On Thursday, 4 May, Rev Edwin Arrison reminded us that May is Africa Month and coincidentally, this year Africa Day and Ascension Day fall on the same day which gives a new meaning to the idea of “Africa rising” or “Africans rising.” I’ve been given permission to paraphrase or quote most of his meaningful mediation.
Several times the Bible refers to places and people on the continent of Africa. In the book of Acts we read that there were several Africans from Egypt and Libya present at Pentecost. We were also reminded that all Homo sapiens, all of us, originate from Africa. So actually, whether we like it or not or whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all African. To quote a famous former Archbishop (who shall remain nameless): “some of us just came out of the oven sooner than others!”
Before Pope Francis visited the continent for the first time, he commented that Africa is the most exploited continent on the earth. Like Simon of Cyrene, Africans have been carrying the cross of Christ or the cross for humanity for a very long time, and we continue to do so today. In the last few years it has become clear that Africa also does not really receive aid from the rest of the world: Africa gives aid to the rest of the world. Natural resources as well as illicit funds flow out of Africa every single day. Tax evasion by big companies is probably the most played sport on the Continent!
People are fleeing the continent daily because of war and bad governance, famine and disease. Some People, human beings created in the image of God, are being killed on our continent simply because they are homsexual or because they are albino.
Thankfully, despite all of this, Africa and Africans are rising. The spirit of Easter is alive and well on the continent. We are beginning to see the rise of new people’s movements led by some very dynamic young people and women leaders. People are beginning to demand good governance. There are dynamic debates going on about our life together on the continent
Arrison is confident that, “A new humanity is slowly arising from Africa. We cannot simply imitate what others are doing but rather ask the more fundamental questions about what it means to be truly human and what it means to belong to one another”.
Although many of the articles in this issue are devoted to the African Continent there is much happening throughout our Global Methodist Connexion. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have Christians, Methodists included, talking about how to bring about peace in this place divided by governments and superpowers. We honor the memory of two devoted peacemakers, Dr. Pauline Webb (Methodist Church in Britain), and Bishop Moisés Domingos Fernandes (The United Methodist Church in East Angola), and we hear of tributes to a whole movement of women demanding answers and justice from a corrupt government. Continuing on the peacemaking theme, the Popes of the Coptic Orthdox and Roman Catholic Churches joined together in an historic ecumenical prayer for peace and unity in Egypt.
Please join me in a Prayer for Africa;
God bless Africa
Protect our children
Transform our leaders
Heal our communities
And give us peace
For Jesus Christ’s sake Amen
(Amended from original by Trevor Huddleston)