Sunday, March 23, 2008
‘Vanjaar val Goeie vrydag en Menseregtedag saam. Is daar enige besondere betekenis aan te heg ?
Miskien wel, as mens daaraan dink dat Menseregtedag eintlik Sharpeville dag is.
Die naam Sharpeville is dalk laat val in ‘n poging om progressief na versoening te soek deur die eerder die nadruk te plaas op ‘n mooi positiewe ding soos menseregte. Dit beteken egter nie dat ‘n mens daarom maar van Sharpeville kan vergeet nie die waarheid te sê, bring die gelyktydigheid vandie storie oor die kruisdood van Jesus en Menseregtedag ons op ‘n onvermydelike manier te staan voor die konneksie tussen Golgota en Sharpeville.’
And so he goes on. He argues that we cannot equate the death of Jesus to that of 69 people who died on that fateful day, on 21 March 1960, but we cannot, as Christians, who remember the death of Jesus Christ, on the cross, who share amongst each other the communion, the bread, which speaks of the body and the wine, which speaks of the blood, forget. We are a people who remember, or as Eddie Makue recently explained, who re-member. Hence, we are reminded of him who found his place amongst crossbearers, amongst those who are still crucified.
This morning I am however interested in another angle in this interesting link. It relates to the clip out of Mel Gibson’s rather violent portrayal of Jesus Christ. (insert clip)
There is seemingly a political wrangle here between the religious and community leaders of the Jews, the king and, lets call him the Premier. The centre of the controversy seems to be: what to do with Jesus.
• On the one hand this Jesus of Galilea, is offensive to the sensibilities of the religious elite. He transgresses the boundaries. The accusations: he violates their laws, their traditions, their religious codes. He dares to present himself as the Messiah, as the Christ.
• For Pilate, Jesus is a political problem. He can stir emotions, a critical mass, he can cause a riot- disturb the peace.
• For the King Herod- he has heard of the miracles of Jesus, he has heard of the wonders and he also wants one. His own little miracle. His disappointment and disavowal comes when Jesus, the miracle maker does not perform his tricks- he is a farce
Hence, no one of these characters quite seem to get a hold of him. None of these powerful figures are quite happy with him. He just doesn’t fit their box, he irate them in his otherness. He is at odds with power, with powerplay and powerseats, without being just another pawn in their play. Even though he is to be crucified, even though, his erstwhile friends and the beneficiaries of his ministry have distanced themselves from him, even though ultimately, it might seem that his is going down, he is not to be part of their game. Where do we find a key to understand this enigma?
Where to find the key to understand the Easter?
Where are we to find the key to link Good Friday to the significance of today, Human Rights day, Sharpeville day ?
I believe the little dialogue between Jesus and Pilate helps us to start to understand this link.
1) They, in a sense were right. He was a Jew, maybe a Jew that did not simply toe the line. He was a political figure, a leader. He did the miracles and was, in a sense a sensation amongst the populace. Indeed, he is a king, of sorts. He does reign. Indeed, whether you see it or not, you are standing in the presence the anointed/Messiah, in the presence of the leader, the one who has the authority over and who controls the forces of life.
2) They were wrong. Their conceptions of kingship and lordship, of leadership were of this world. His was not of this world. His was a leadership/kingship that came to serve, to heal the sick, to stand with the poor to identify. This was what the Jewish leaders missed. The laws and decrees, their tradition and religious fervour and commitments was to serve the poor and need, the downtrodden, was to serve humanity and the creation. It wasn’t there as a life unto itself, in self-interest seeking its own selfish desires, to entrench its own positions. Pilate could not understand this either. This king’s power did not reside in military coercion or in bigger arms and more wars on Terror-it lies deeper; it’s not from this world. Even Herod, was to realise: Jesus can never be another clown or entertainer in your little masquerade. Through tricks and magic, we can indeed draw the crowds and pull the cash, but it remains empty, hollow void of substance, not serving the real, difficult, hardcore needs of his people. He was living a lie, in fact he was making a statement about himself-he is the farce. Which brings us to the question, but who is this Jesus ?
3) He is the witness of truth- the embodiment of truth. He is the truth- the truth about the reality, he is the truth about ourselves; our religious emptiness, our military and political emptiness.
The story is told in the book, ‘How can man die better: The life of Robert Sobukwe’ on that fate full day (page 129)We are called as Christians to portray the kingship, not of this world, not of the religious decadence of this world, nor violent or the political culture of this world.... but the other-ness, the crossbearing truth. So, let us take the bread and the wine, symbols of this otherworldly kingdom. Let’s march to freedom..................
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
"We can become a caring and compassionate society where everyone counts, where human rights are valued, where we can actually overcome crime and HIV/Aids, poverty and corruption, where we have leaders who emulate the Sisulus," he said.
There is however another, more compelling reason for the significance of these processes: the NG Kerk, as the theological mother of apartheid, still need to come to terms with this legacy. The most compelling evidence that they have transcend this marred history, would not come from the hallowed halls of academia, neither a bigger dose of piety, but the difficult journey with her own, back towards unity. This journey will never be easy or clinical and might leave many sacrifices in the wake, being messy and certainly fraught with danger. The NG Kerk however remains the one church, which can, though uniting congregations, uniting ministries, i.e. by being a uniting non-racial, communion embodying an inclusive unity, make a key contribution to our current malaise. This will however have to be done as a family or communion, not on the basis of powerplay and political jockeying, embracing the wealth of traditions and cultural goods that can only enrich everyone.
It remains to be seen what the future holds with regards to the process of unitifcation between the Riverlea UR church and the Vergesig NG church, in Johannesburg. Hopefully these humble gestures can spark new life and open up energy amongst more uniting congregations. Maybe this would be part of the lasting legacy of the late James Buys
In a blog posts by Tony Campolo, A proposal for 'Illegal Aliens', he reminds us from history how central it is to the identity of the church to respond to this challenge. He writes, 'St. Francis of Assisi taught his followers that Jesus is mystically present in the alien. They were told that when they look into the eyes of the stranger in their midst, they might see their Christ staring back at them.Christians need to be reminded that in the only description that Jesus gave of judgment day, he specifically declares that God will inquire how we treated the alien. God will want to know, according to Matthew 25:35, whether or not we made room for "the stranger" to live among us.'
Of course, his frame of reference is the North American situation, yet it remains relevant also for the South African context and church, where it seems that this simmering pot is perilously ignored.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Many have speculated on the reasons for the suicide of James Buys, respected and well-known church leader in the Reformed community, but also the South African Council of Churches. Speculations abound and sometimes its impact is more destructive then constructive. Rehashing the vexing ethical conundrum of suicide amongst Christians, in particular church leaders could be one route of dealing with this trauma. I'm not convinced that this is helpful. It would neither be helpful to speculate about the possible reasons why. The question should maybe be: what are we to do now ?
At the memorial service on Wednesday evening, but also the funeral on Saturday there was however, in the midst of our convoluted attempts to make sense, some hopeful and I may add, helpful gestures. One of it was the open invitation to mourners and family by the officiating co-pastor of James, Dr Danie Nel to counseling and therapeutic services to deal with the trauma but also with Depression. The Premier of the Western Cape, Ebraim Rasool, also allocated an amount of R 25 000 to make these services possible for the community.
The presence of Depression in our midst is certainly a rude awakening, especially amongst pastors. In the mind and seemingly theology of church members, pastors are not supposed to be vulnerable, not supposed to be seen to be weak and, most certainly, pastors are not suppose to commit suicide. This is understandable, in terms of the theologies that are in vogue. God called pastors as special Christians to embody the ministry of the rest of the church. They are being paid to substitutionally, pray for the ordinary members, live the christian life for them and, if need be, die in the office. This might be a skewd image of the conceptions of church members, but it remains a powerful reminder of how we think of pastors and their identity. The best jokes around, foregrounds the sins of their children and the bestselling newsstories, centres around their private calamities. Depression is however an illness that indeed, need to be highlighted and looked into. Where media would want to speculate and exploit this for financial gain and the amount of traffic it could generate, we as the church need to grapple with how we support and make more professional services available for pastors and their families.
A previous conversation, on this blog on the challenges that Pastor Ray, in particular, but also others are facing dealing with their relationships and marriage, were met with a barrage of critique, suggesting that the notion of some bloggers that Christians, and also pastors are human and need to be view as such, is cheap grace. It was argued that Christians leaders should be godlike, and if they 'fail', then, , according to Scripture, they may not serve in leadership. We however hold that this is a warped view of the gospel of grace. Our vulnerability, our cross or, like St Paul, our thorns in the flesh, are many times our witness, our giving of ourselves as living witnesses. Henry Nowen, speaks of the wounded prophet, wounded healer, as the place where the church can witness from. He writes ( my courtesy to Dan Kimball)
It is important to think about the Church not as "over there" but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer."May this be a place where we may find healing to be authentically witnesses of the cross.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Jameson Donn Buys' life in a sense can be read in this mirror, if you like.
1) His life was service
2) James worked for justice, relentlessly
3) He lived for peace, unity, reconciliation.
But this was not about James, Melchizedek or anyone else, but its about Jesus Christ, the liberatory consoling image of God, who hangs on a 'skandpaal', in public.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
WOENSDAGAAND om 19:30 is daar ‘n biduur-geleentheid in die VG-Kerkgebou van Wynberg gehou. Dr Danie Nel (NGK leraar van Wynberg) het die diens waargeneem – as ‘n pastorale/gebeds geleentheid vir die gemeentes van Wynberg en ander moontlik belanghebbendes, oor die hantering van die dood van ds James Buys.
SATERDAGOGGEND is daar geleentheid vir besigtiging by die kerkgebou/saal van die NG Kerk van Wynberg van 08:00-10:00. Die begrafnisdiens self sal om 10:00 in die NG Kerkgebou van Wynberg plaasvind. Die prediker sal ds Fezi Mbenengi van die Oos-Kaap wees. Daar sal geen ander sprekers, kore, of optredes wees nie, slegs die diens, met ‘n private verassingdiens.
Ek hoop dat hierdie inligting nuttig kan wees vir diegene van naby en vêr wat beplan om te kom.
Ben du Toit
From the N1 (South):
Take the Nasrec turn-off (after Maraisburg) and turn left at the traffic lights;
pass the Soccer stadium on you left up to the T junction (traffic light and a garage on you right)
Turn left at the T-juncture (The Soccer stadium will be on you left)
Go underneath 2 bridges after the second railway bridge turn left into Colorado Drive, Riverlea.
Take the third street left into Medway Street and proceed to Kentucky Street - at block of flats and find the sign Alpha Crèche, a division of Riverlea URC
From Johannesburg CBD or East
Take Main Reef road in the direction of Roodepoort
Turn left at Nasrec rd (M5) traffic light.
Turn right into Colorado Drive, at the first traffic light into Riverlea
Take the third street left into Medway Street and proceed to Kentucky Street - at block of flats and find the sign Alpha Crèche, a division of Riverlea URC
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
The service will start at 7h30pm on Thursday, 06 March and the venue will be the Alpha Centre, cnr of Medway & Kentuckystr, Riverlea.
There will be a memorial service at the Wynberg, URCSA on Wednesday, 5 March 2008, at 19h30. On Saturday, the funeral will start at 10h00 at the same Wynberg, URCSA.
Die Moderatuur van die NG Kerk het met groot hartseer kennis geneem van die tragiese dood gisteraand van ds James Buys, vorige Moderator van die Algemene Sinode van die VGKSA en prominente kerkleier in dié kerk.
Namens die NG Kerk bid ons ds Buys se gesin die wonderlike troos toe wat alleen uit die hand van ons Here kom. Mag hulle werklik ervaar dat die Here, ook deur mense, naby aan hulle is en hulle styf vashou.
Ons bid ook vir die gemeente Wynberg en die VGKSA wat ’n hoogsbegaafde leier verloor het. Ds Buys het met sy leierseienskappe en vlymskerk teologiese denke ’n onuitwisbare stempel op die VGKSA afgedruk. En nie net op die VGKSA nie: op almal van ons wat hom geken het, met hom saamgewerk het en hom leer liefkry het. In die ekumeniese wêreld is daar nou ’n leemte: ook hier het James Buys reuse werk verrig, nasionaal en internasionaal.
In die kerkherenigingsgesprekke tussen die kerke van die NG Kerkfamilie was James Buys ’n belangrike en ook opbouend-kritiese stem. Sy insigte is nou stil.
Ons is weer intens bewus hoe broos mense is en hoe nodig mense mekaar het: in besonder in die Familie van Kerke waarvan ons deel is en waarin James Buys die Here uitmuntend gedien het.
Monday, March 03, 2008
As our leader, you have showed us the way, paid the price, gave your life. May your soul rest in peace and our memory of you, light the way. To Mrs Angela Buys, children and family, we pray with you for strength and commit to stand with you in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
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- Memorial service Johannesburg
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