Monday, 30 August 2010

There were these three friends ...

Rogate Mshana preached on justice and greed this morning, inspired in part by the harsh words of Psalm 12 and the hopeful but judging words of Habakkuk.

The faithful are people who show faith, are loyal, show awareness of the truth and are trustworthy. They keep their promises and “walk the talk”. The faithful are those who uphold the truth and stand for the accuracy of facts. Of course the term “faithful” also refers to those who believe in God. In short they are believers in a given religion. The text we have said together from Psalm 12 offers us a combination of these definitions of who the faithful are. As faithful believers, we should also seek to embrace the first meaning, by which I mean that as believers in God we need also to be people who show faith, loyalty, keep promises and are trustworthy. What is interesting is that there are many who are not believers but are faithful in the sense that they embrace the values just described.

Rogate always adds a story from the oral tradition when he speaks and this morning was no different. He challenged us to think about whether as Christians we accommodate the world or try to stay true to the gospel.
There were three Christian friends who set out on a long journey together in an African country which was a majority Muslim country, we'll call them John, Andrew and Peter. They walked far through quite desolate country and were tired and hungry as they approached civilisation. John and Peter realised though that the house they were going in to in the village they were approaching would be a Muslin household and they decided to change their names and become Abdullah and Saheed. Andrew decided to keep his name and remain Andrew. They were welcomed into the household early in the afternoon, tired and hungry. However, as it was Ramadan only Andrew was offered food to eat. The two friends who had changed their names to fit in had to wait until sundown for food ...
Rogate told his story with a smile and didn't try to get any moralistic message out of it - it spoke volumes about hospitality, and challenged us to think in many ways about what part of ourselves we change in order to "adapt" the values of the gospel to society.

Rogate ended by saying:

This is where the ecumenical movement has to stand firm, to take on itself the mandate given by God through the prophets such as Habbakuk, to rekindle the faithful to do the right thing. The ecumenical movement cannot be vague – the prophets were not! The ecumenical movement cannot be double hearted when it speaks about eradicating poverty and working for justice – the prophets were not. The ecumenical movements must not stop calling evil and greed by their name – the prophets did not. Simply put, the ecumenical movement has to be faithful to the mandate that comes down to us as Christians from the prophets and the psalmists and most of all through the life and message of Jesus Christ, the liberator.

Full text of the sermon here, liturgy here.