Sunday, 22 December 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent and contextuality

For the first time we attended church in the closest Anglican church, St. Aphege’s Church. The service on a Sunday starts at 7.30 and by 8.45 we were out. 

Children were invited to light the candles in the beginning of the service. 

Janet Trisk led the service. She is both a canon (I think) and linked to my University. The first time I listened to her was at a conference with the Theological Society of Southern Africa in Bloemfontein 2010. She read a paper with the title:
Beauty for Ashes: Responding to Violence
It is published in the book:
Living on the Edge. Essays in Honour of Steve de Gruchy, Activist& Theologian. Eds. James R. Cochrane, Elisas Bongmba, Isabel Phiri & Des van der Water. Cluster Publication, Pietermaritzburg 2012.
This cross also speaks about beauty!
Her point is that much theology has been preoccupied with death, suffering and violence. But there are also other strands. Maybe a more motherly or feminist perspective! Today, though, she was preaching about Joseph and how he tried to deal with the pregnancy of Mary in a responsible way. The message to us was to combine justice and mercy. To walk the extra mile, if possible. It was a nice service and a good sermon. The congregation is multi-cultural but also, as far as I could see, dominated by middle class South Africans. I missed a perspective in the sermon and that should have been a reflection that the poor and oppressed already walks more than the extra mile. But I guess she preached contextually to middle class people (and I am of course one).

This painting I found in St- Alphege's. Contextual.
A Black Jesus being sentenced to death.
Not so contextual was a song about advent, snow and winter time. It is around 30 degrees centigrade today.

Something else on the contextual note. St. Alphege  became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1005. He went to Rome to receive his so called Pallium (a circular band about two inches wide, worn about the neck, breast, and shoulders, and having two pendants, one hanging down in front and one behind.A symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to a metropolitan or primate by the Holy See). On a website called Catholic Online we can read the following:
He [St. Alphege] returned to England in time to be captured by the Danes pillaging the southern regions. The Danes besieged Canterbury and took Alphege captive. The ransom for his release was about three thousand pounds and went unpaid. Alphege refused to give the Danes that much, an act which infuriated them. He was hit with an ax and then beaten to death.
Although he lived in England it is rather contextual. Many South Africans have given their lives in the struggle against Apartheid.

Speaking about Danes a good friend from Denmark uploaded this photo on my facebook time line. Thank you, Lone!

We are truly blessed this Christmas. All our five children are visiting us.
Together with a son-in-law-to-be. (Not in the picture, though!)

Lastly I would like to make a contribution to the Swedish discussion from the Archbishop election about Whether or not Jesus is a truer reflection of God than Mohammed. I like the take Sidney Carther has on the question. For God everything is possible, but I only know one name. The Son of Mary!
Every star shall sing a carol,
Every creature high or low.
Come and praise the King of Heaven
By whatever name you know.

God above man below,
Holy is the name I know.

When the king of all creation,
Had a cradle on the earth.
Holy was the human body,
Holy was the human birth.

Who can tell what other cradle?
High above the Milky Way;
Still may rock the King of Heaven,
On another Christmas day.
Who can count how many crosses?
Still to come or long ago.
Crucify the King of Heaven,
Holy is the name I know.

Who can tell what other body?
He will hallow for his own.
I will praise the son of Mary,
Brother of my blood and bone.

Every star and every planet,
Every creature high and low.
Come and praise the King of Heaven,
By whatever name you know.

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