preaching on mission in a context of violence in Zimbabwe and Kameeldrif
May 12, 2008
I preached on Genesis 11:28-12:9 on Sunday. I started preparing real early, reading Brueggemann’s Genesis commentary on Monday, and Von Rad’s shortly after, but never quite got around to making the sermon. I knew what I wanted to say though. God call Abram, promise to bless him, but in the same breath call Abram to also be a blessing to those around him (see some thoughts in Afrikaans here). God call Abram, but he doesn’t call him out of this world, but to be wholly part of this world (see some more thoughts in Afrikaans here). In Genesis, it is the creator God who now become further part of the creation-gone-bad by calling Abram, and by becoming involved with human history.
But last week we again had two armed robberies on houses in our congregation. In one the people were wounded, in the other a man was killed, leaving behind a wife and kids. Shot in the head when he wanted to press the alarm button. This happened on Friday evening, on Saturday I finally got around to finalizing the sermon. Furthermore, the reports on Zimbabwe started coming in, I blogged on that here while I was preparing the sermon.
How do we preach in this context? What do we say? As I said to the congregation at one stage: In church many would say we are not supposed to talk politics. But in this context, and reading the story of Abraham, I cannot do other but talk politics. But politics isn’t about who is right and who wrong, I never spoke about Mugabe for example. Maybe what we call politics in the church, is actually just ethics. Public Theology.
I believe the message, even for this hurt congregation, and believe me, our congregation, and community, is hurt. The violence have been going on for weeks now, every week the reports come in, for this congregation also, the message is that we should bring hope. There is a message that God bring hope to the world, but the other side of the coin is that God bring hope through us as well.
We need to preach on South Africa. We need to preach on Zimbabwe. Telling the stories of the people there, telling the story of the Bible, realizing that the story of the Bible is forcing us to, in some way I don’t understand yet, take part in the story of suffering ongoing around us. Our congregation is starting to talk about our role, a missional role, in the context of violence around Kameeldrif. It’s not a new conversation, but we took it upon ourselves in all earnesty. I’ll be getting together with Arthur tomorrow to have some talks on Zimbabwe. What is the role of the church in a time like this? What can we as a church do?