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Mandela

. 2 min read

A message from our Bishop:


“All this is from
God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of
reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ….And
he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

(2 Corinthians
5:18-19, NIV)

“Do not be overcome
by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

(Romans
12:21)

Dear United Methodists of
the Susquehanna Conference:

Greetings to you in the
name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Prince of Peace, Healer of our
brokenness, and Hope of the world!

The news finally came.
President Nelson Mandela passed away. The world is mourning the death of “the
most favorite son of South Africa.”

I have some personal memory
of him. In 2006, when the Council of Bishops had its first meeting outside the
United States in Maputo, capital city of Mozambique, we received a surprising
gift; he and his wife Graça Machel
visited with us. It was an awesome moment of privilege to be in his presence.
After the Council meeting, Lisa and I had the opportunity to visit the house
where he once lived in Johannesburg and the prison cell where he was a captive
for 27 years in Robben Island. Our appreciation for what he was to the world, as
well as to his people of South Africa, continued to expand after these
experiences.

There is no one quite like
Nelson Mandela. There is not another political figure who drew such respect and
affection all over the world as he did. He was a role model in the highest
esteem in the political world; as Mother Teresa was in the religious world. The
way he influenced and inspired people of all walks of life from the most
oppressed, to the ordinary, to the most powerful across all races throughout the
world was almost unprecedented. Indeed he was one of the most admired persons of
the modern world. For many he was the one.

Across the continents,
Nelson Mandela was the icon of a better world. Indeed his legacy is about the
vision of an alternative world in peace and justice. He personified the hope for
healing and reconciliation among the oppressed and the oppressors by embodying
the mandate of the Christian faith at its core; choice of love over hatred,
forgiveness over vengeance, and reconciliation over resentment. It is the most
challenging choice for any one of us, including Nelson Mandela. He struggled
with it. He is remembered as saying that “I am not a saint unless a saint is a
sinner who is always trying.” He is also remembered as saying that he chose to
forgive so that he would not stay imprisoned by hatred. He exemplified what we
can be by evoking the best of humanity in us. His courage to do the right thing
by paying the price of self-sacrifice will continue to inspire the citizens of
the world.

Nelson Mandela convinced us
that the vision of a transformed world is alive in the world today and is
achievable. Individuals and nations can change for the better. He demonstrated
the truth of it in the world arena. But he also made it very clear that it has
to be demonstrated in the personal arena. As we celebrate and honor with
thanksgiving the invaluable memory of what Nelson Mandela meant to the world, it
is my prayer that the hope for a better world in peace, justice, and
reconciliation is rekindled. And the prayer shall include, “beginning with
me.”

May the Spirit of Advent
abound all around you, your loved ones, and our world.

In Christ,

Jeremiah Park