At his trial for treason in 1958 he said “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities… It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Released from prison his strength came not from anger but a determination to reconcile his people, the truth and reconciliation commission process acknowledged past atrocities but enable also a new future, one marked by forgiveness, reconciliation and unity.
Nelson Mandela articulated a vision for his people, embodied it, lived and worked it. It was his life and it will be his legacy.
Last Sunday in our churches we remembered John the Baptist. In the wilderness with the outcast he cried out ‘prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths’, he looked for the time when the ‘earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord’ where men and women shall be at peace with each other and the world will be marked by justice. In doing this he pointed his hearers to the prince of peace, to Jesus Christ whose coming we await in Advent.
As we celebrate Nelson Mandela, as we wait for the coming of Christ, I wonder how we in our lives may be signs of peace, justice and reconciliation.
By the Archdeacon of Cheltenham, Venerable Robert Springett