In the long struggle for freedom in South Africa, parts of the church played a major role, even as other parts colluded with the apartheid regime. Few actions in that struggle were more important than the Belhar Confession.
The Old Testament and gospel readings for Epiphany
function as point and counterpoint. Isaiah offers a word of great comfort to
those who have been so long in darkness. Impoverished as the hearers have been,
honor and fortune are on their way. It's a message of rejoicing: the light that
has dawned will make all who see it radiant.
When Robert Deming lost both his mother and sister in his youth, he was so angry at God that he decided he was an atheist. He eventually came back to the faith not by argument or reason but by the love of his wife. “I would not be a Christian if not for two things,” he says. “The love of someone patient and the beauty of adoration offered lovingly.” His advice to Christians with family or friends who have left the fold: “Be patient with those you love . . . [and] do what you do with beauty, care, and reverence” (thesubdeansstall.org, October 12).