Today is our focus on Heritage in the final Sunday of our Season of Creation.
Sermon: Sabelo Mthimkhulu
27 September 2020
As we are celebrating Heritage Day, I came across these words of The Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
One of the strengths of Humanity is diversity, and it is that diversity that we celebrate as the Parish this morning. The diversity that comes with Unity.
But one may wonder
How do we celebrate unity in a situation where we cannot meet?
In the time where the reality of our differences is so evident?
In a time where the marginalised gets exposed more and more to the realities of their suppression?
In a time where the phase Unity in diversity have been used as tools to hide our real existing inequalities?
Inequalities caused by our differences.
And these differences that do not only just come with our cultures, races and gender
But differences that are also informed by our different understanding of The Imago Dei.
(The Image of God)
Isn’t this weird?
We are divided by exactly what is supposed to be uniting us.
We are busy fighting over our Doctrinal and Theological differences
And Our different liturgical preferences
What should we do?
We just don’t seem to agree
Paul seems to be answering this question in today’s second reading. In this reading Paul writes to the Church in Philippi, this church is experiencing various divisions and it is these divisions that Paul addresses.
Paul seems to be well informed of one of the conflicts that might be the source of these divisions.
Two women, Euodia and Synyche seems to not only disagree or see things differently
But their disagreement is unresolvable
Paul carries both words of encouragement and criticism to these women. And he believes that it is through these words that they will challenge to agree in the Lord.
Paul suggests that Christianity is characterized by an attitude of Joy in the Lord, patience and gentleness towards all people, and it is through these characteristics that we realise the nearness of the Lord.
Paul seems to also suggest that being one minded could solve the differences existing within this church.
But is this always the case?
Is it even easy to be one minded, in the existence of differences?
I guess not
Hence Paul further says (in verse 3)
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others”
So, this same mind, same love, full accord, and one mind of which Paul spoke about in the in the previous verse (2) does acknowledge that there are differences. And it is due to acknowledgement that Paul immediately urges the Church to regard the other as more important.
Paul urges them to not be self-centred and always consider the “Other”
He pushes them to see beyond the self-other binary
Paul here helps us not only to understand that being same minded, does not mean transforming the other to be the other.
But also, that in oneself there is always a space for otherness
My identity does not stop me from acknowledging the other person’s identity without losing mine or expecting the other to lose theirs. We can equality co-exist.
In the quote, I read above, Tutu suggests that it is this co-existence that make us whole.
We are incomplete without the “Other”.
It is not just about diversity, but it is more about being united “The Oneness”.
But how easy is this
What if the “Other” is not just that person different from me, but that person I do not want next to.
Paul pushes the Church in Philippi to go beyond acceptance and prioritize the “Other” over themselves.
And it is through this practice, that they will imitate Christ, who humbled himself and become obedient to death, even death on the cross.
Putting others first comes with a price. It requires one to give away their pride and be clothed with humbleness.
I Wonder if this reading could not be an invitation for us in this important month in our Church calendar, a month where we celebrate both heritage and creation.
An invitation to navigate our journey together, not only with “Other” human being but with the entire God’s creation.
An invitation to allow our indigenous knowledge and our belief systems (Informed by the Spirit of Ubuntu) to assist us in overcoming the challenge of
- Gender based Violence
- Classism etc
Our culture and heritage comprise of very strong and important tools that can bring people together and lead us into reconciliation with the rest of creation. Music happens to be one of them, I am sure most of you could attest to the joy and peace brought by the famous Jerusalem dance challenge.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ, let us continue celebrating our heritage in the Spirit of Ubuntu which preserves the values of group solidarity, respect, human dignity, compassion, love and unity.
It is through the Spirit of Ubuntu that we can fully experience and share Unity in diversity.
If we want to be truly united, we need to acknowledge the beauty that comes with Diversity.
And it is though this diversity that my humanity exists
It is though that diversity that your humanity exists
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for God has only created us to be human together.”
Let us pray
O Thou kind Lord!
Thou hast created all creation from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household.
O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the cultures and religions agree and make the nations one,
So that we may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home for all.
O Lord we pray that we May live together in harmony.