Sunday, February 15, 2015

Jesus and Mandela on the Mountaintop: Sermon for the Last Sunday of Epiphany-2/15/2015

Jesus and Mandela on the Mountaintop
The transfiguration of Christ is an important stepping stone and half way point for Christ’s ministry in Mark’s gospel.  This dramatic show to Peter, John, and James is a preview of Christ’s divinity.  This transformative time in Jesus’ ministry we see what the resurrection of Christ looks like.  We see a possibility of the things to come from Christ, and how the world can change.  Though this scene never alluded to the work that it takes to get to the resurrected Jesus; it never showed the Crosses of oppression that Apostles and Disciples needed to bare in order to see the resurrection once they returned to the valley.
Though I am still fairly new this this country, and only beginning to understand the struggle and strife this nation faced. I can still see the strides that this country has made and are making in developing a free and open society. Mandela was not just a hero to South Africans, but to the world.  I have long considered Mandela one of my role models and part of the reason why I wanted to come to South Africa.  
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s election and presidency, in my mind,  is a modern day example of Christ’s Transfiguration. As you all know, Mandela’s ministry as President of South Africa showed this nation the power of nonviolence and the hope of true equality.  He showed the world the power of forgiveness with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and with the help of the unity government made the world’s greatest constitution for the protection of Human Rights.  He showed us the power of love and hope have in changing the world. Madiba’s presidency, though a challenge, still showed what South Africa could be.  It showed possibility of a truly free and equal society if we follow the example of Mandela and associates.
 Jesus’s ministry was devoted to fight  the oppression of the poor through his preaching, He fought the corruption of the Temple elites by showing the their hypocrisy with his parables, and showing the world the power of love through his actions and healings. These acts after Christ's transformation, become more specific gestures to show his disciples the way of continuing his earthly ministry when he knew his time was quickly ending.
But much like the Transfiguration, South Africa had the return to the valley.  The world and South Africa have forgotten the long process that it will take to heal from their wounds of racial oppression and hatred, poverty, and corruption.  Much like the Apostles, South Africans seemed to believe that the work of healing the wounds of this great nation was on Mandela’s shoulders; the seeming sole bearer of the cross. Christ’s transfiguration was not showing Christ’s Divinity to prove to the Apostles that he can solely save the world. The scene on the Mountaintop showed the Apostles why they should listen him, why Christ’s gospel is justified in the eyes of God, and the part the Apostles played in his ministry.  
Mandela never could fully heal the country, but he knew that he could at least try to convince South Africans how to begin the process.  At the transfiguration, Christ knew that his life was coming to an end; his earthly ministry was soon ending.  For Christ’s gospel to succeed in this world, the Apostles needed to take control  of his ministry.  In the same way, Nelson Mandela’s time would end and has ended, leaving his disciples with the responsible of maintaining and continuing his ministry, despite the challenges of the Valley.
 Although I am not saying Mandela can resurrect like Jesus, but we are still waiting for the fulfilment of Mandela’s “resurrection.”  The complete fulfillment of the ideals of Mandela and his companions’ ministry would be his greatest resurrection. Together we, as his Apostles, should continue Mandela’s ministry, just as Christians are called to continue the ministry of Christ: though it is virtually the same thing. Much like Mandela, and Christ, we are actively called to continue to his work in sowing love, hope, and equality of all people.