Friday, 1 November 2013

Let justice roll down like waters

Every day at the Assembly revolves around a Bible text. Today Amos 5:14-24 which is a strong and prophetic message relevant in this context.

Every day at the Assembly starts with a Morning Prayer and bible study. I attend the English Plenary Bible Study. We are many hundreds but it works. The method is contextual bible study and we are asked to form small groups where we sit. Today it was led by my colleague at the UKZN, Prof Sarojini Nadar. Four people helped her read the text. Thereafter she welcomed Amos to the stage. First it felt as a humoristic role-play but it soon turned into a real encounter.

A prophet from Tahiti!
In our small group I met Ms Katia Tupara from the Maohi Protestant Church, Tahiti. When we were invited to share thoughts about the bible text she told us about the French occupation of Tahiti. This came as a very prophetic challenge to me. I have to realize that I did not pay much attention to the political situation of the people in the so called French Polynesia. I know about the nuclear tests which is of course only one part of a very complex situation. On top of that the people living on those islands also have to face the climate change and the rising of the sea level. I asked Katia about how she feels about the image from Amos:
Let justice roll down like waters
She said that there is a huge difference between the waters. Rising sea levels are caused by the big countries in the world. The water Amos is talking about is the fresh water springing up from the soil of these islands.

Ylva Sarri is drumming on her digital drum.
The bible study was done with words and drums. For instance the reading of the bible text was mixed with drumming. As a sign of how a prophet makes people listen by making a lot of noise. This made me think of the situation in Sweden. In the 17th Century the Swedish state (which was then in total union with the Church of Sweden) burned and destroyed the drums of the Sami people. Today the Swedish state allow foreign companies to exploit Sápmi. The mine in Gállok is only one example. I hope that the Sami people find their destroyed drums and also their prophetic voice. One such voice is Ylva Sarri. She is one of four delegates from Church of Sweden. You can find her blog through this link.

The first plenary this day began with three greetings. One came from the Archbishop of Canterbury (Anglican). The other was from the Chairperson of the Pentecostal World fellowship. He told us that his participation in the Global Christian Forum has been an inspiration for him. He quoted Mark 9:40 where Jesus says:
Whoever is not against us is for us ...
The last greeting was given by the leader of a Buddhist organization in Japan which has worked together with the WCC since Vancouver in 1983. They support some of the WCC programmes. I think this was great! But why is always those greetings given by elderly men. His Grace, His Holiness, His Eminence …. This needs to be changed! Now!

The plenary was called the Asia Plenary. We listened to five different speakers. One spoke (again) about multiple identities in Asia. Another one said that the 21st Century is called the Asian century. But how about Africa? I cannot recall all the presenters but one was a Korean Orthodox bishop who made a plea for the Orthodox churches in the Middle East. He also showed slides from the Holy Trinity Church in Pyongyang. The Orthodox Church in North and South Korea is united. The strongest message though came from a medical doctor from India who told the story about two girl conjoined twins that where born near the hospital. The family rejected them but the hospital and the whole village embraced them. Their names were Stuti and Aradhana, meaning Praise and Worship. When they were separated after a few years Aradhana died from an infection after some time. A tragedy, of course. But the outcome was that the family went through a process and accepted Stuti, who is now living with her biological family.

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