Second Sunday of Advent
The Candle of Peace
Our Second Advent service opened with the acknowledgement of Nelson Mandela's passing. He was a man of spiritual strength and vision for what might be and he reshaped the face of South Africa and the world.
Mandela was born into the Thembu royal family. He attended two Universities in South Africa receiving his law degree. Mandela was a voice of authority and leadership for Black South Africans. And he was imprisoned in 1962 and served 27 years in jail as a result of his leadership: Mandela was a man of peace and reconciliation and a man who was silenced for 27 years.
Zachariah was a High Priest in the temple and having served there many year would have become a voice of authority and power within the temple. A leader in the Jewish community of his time. When Zachariah failed to believe the archangel Gabriel that his wife Elizabeth would conceive a son he was struck mute for the duration of her pregnancy only regaining his voice to proclaim that the child’s name was John.
What do Zachariah and Mandela have in common they both were vibrant men of authority and wisdom within their communities and for very different reasons their voices were made silent.
Juanita asked us to consider what this period of enforced solitude/silence meant to these men and the people around them.
She wondered if:
- silence created space for God to move within Mandela and Zachariah on a personal level if they became mindful of God in a different and more intimate way – did they come to lean less on their own understanding of God and more on God’s understanding of them and their purpose?
- On a public level did it create space for others to come to know themselves and others on a deeper level as leaders
This the Second Advent sermon resonated with me. I am a person of words, and a leader. Recently I have been lamenting that I do not have enough time to be reflective on my spiritual journey. There does not seem to be enough time to read, reflect and be silently present with my God.
Here was Juanita speaking directly to me!
While Mandela’s imprisonment was unjust and I do not believe that the hand of God was in this – I do believe that Mandela used this time to be mindful of his role in South African politics, of his role and the cost of his convictions on his family and his spirituality.
I can only imagine what it would be like to lose my voice and have only limited ways to get my opinions and thoughts out into the world. When I have a cold and cannot sing I know that I hear music at a deeper level that at these times music ministers to me at a deep spiritual level that singing my praise has yet to do.
The question is:
- Is there space in the cacophony of our words and thoughts for spiritual mysteries for the miraculous?
- Or does our knowledge, this same cacophony limit us to what we know rather than what in God is possible?
How does all this relation to peace?
Peace in 2013 can only be found in the miraculous. When men and women begin to become mindful of themselves, the roles that they play in the world and the miraculous will out-of-the-box thinking begin to take hold.
Did God stop doing miracles or did we stop believing in miracles?
Laverty, J. (2013, December 8). Surprising Gifts of Advent. Hanover, Ontario: Hanover Mennonite Church.