Though Nelson Mandela reportedly was guarded about his own religious convictions, he maintained close ties to church leaders and was deeply shaped by his Methodist education. When he talked of forgiving his jailers, called for racial enemies to live in peace, and in words and deeds opened up the path to national reconciliation, the echoes of the gospel were unmistakable.
Yet it should also be remembered that Mandela at one time embraced the use of violence as part of the resistance to apartheid.
Some people can’t get enough of Christmas carols. I can’t get enough of Advent hymns. “Prepare the Royal Highway,” “Creator of the Stars of Night, “On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry,” “People, Look East,” “Comfort, Comfort, Now My People,” “Fling Wide the Door,” “Unexpected and Mysterious”—there just aren’t enough Advent Sundays to sing all the great ones.
I entered parish ministry with a fair amount of idealism, particularly liturgical idealism. Inconveniently, the liturgical proclivities I picked up in seminary were not especially popular with my first congregation.
This became clear as a sleigh bell during our first Advent season together.