Dear Sisters and Brothers,
It is wonderful to be back with you all! As I write this, Lori and I have been back home from South Africa for four days, and I’ve already attended an all-day Stewardship Workshop with members of our parish, been with you on Sunday, and had a great first day back in the office. Life can get so busy that I find it’s important to remind myself, from time to time, of the great guiding principles of our faith that make all our work worthwhile.
One of the great guiding principles of a mature Christian life is what is called ubuntu in South Africa. Ubuntu can be summed up in the saying, “I am because you are.” Ubuntu—both an African philosophical concept and an Anglican theological concept—reminds us that we are who we are because of the people around us. It is other humans who make us human. We learn to laugh, cry, love, and even stand upright and use language from other people. We are more than individuals; we are inter-personal persons, with our identity coming largely as a gift from the communities in which we participate.
Ubuntu, then, is a way to understand the genius of Anglican poet John Donne when he writes, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls/ for it tolls for you.” In the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus himself says that when we help (or ignore!) “the least of these” we do so to him: clearly he understood himself as connected to, and present in, every other person… just as we are! Theologically, ubuntu is grounded in the Scriptural understanding that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. And as Christians we understand that God to be Trinity, i.e., relational in nature.
Once we come to understand the interpersonal nature of our personhood, we come to understand that it is of great importance to support, comfort, and forgive one another. Certainly, in our hearts we know that there appears a hole, a tear, a rend to our own fabric, if we withhold forgiveness or compassion of needed help from another. Doing so more than a misguided way of seeming strong or to gain an upper hand; rather, it the way we unravel our own personhood. It is through relationships, mutual love and support, that we come to know the self-assurance and joyfulness promised to us in the gospels. Who is it you’ve not forgiven? Who is it you might be able to help? What relationship are you being called to deepen? What am I afraid to share with others—my story? my money? my time? The answers to all these questions here are invitations to strengthen your ubuntu, and to live even more fully into the image—and joyfulness—of Christ.
Together in ministry,
Fr. James +Posted in Newsletter
Sunday 8:00 AM
Sunday 9:00 AM
HOLY EUCHARIST WITH MUSIC
Sunday 10:00 AM
Sunday 10:00 AM