It makes sense to publish the circular written by Father Athanasius, the Rector of the Saint Nicholas of Japan Brixton-Johannesburg Greek Orthodox community in South Africa (Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa) with regards to Tomorrow's memorial service for the repose of late President Nelson Mandela.
Fr. Athanasius tracks back into history and the past - only recently - years of "exclusion". We all have it - also in the Middle-East as it has been present and is still quite dangerously active in the East-European and Former Soviet Union. Reconciliation and pardon, release and unchaining the ties of the prisoners is the real task of the Christians on their way to and with the Resurrected.
it is also quite special this year as we commemorate the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, the recognition, acceptance and even refunding of the Christians within the East-West Roman Empire by the time of Constantine and Helena in 313 A.D.
It goes on. May we all be one and pray for each other, for the repose of late President Nelson Mandela in the poly-chromatic and so diversified South African society.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters
As you may be aware that it is a sad day, as well as a day to celebrate the life well lived of our former president Mandela, I would like to remind you of the Byzantine era whereby due to the wisdom of St. Constantine and his mother Helen the churches got freedom to worship and thrived. During the Apartheid era, we know that worship was not permitted in some quarters.
You may be aware that any Greek priest who was sent here in those years, had to declare that he was only coming to serve the Greek community not going to the black community. As a result this Orthodox faith failed to penetrate to the African people of black and coloured decent. This was a very painful experience that none will wish to experience. After 1994, and subsequently as years progressed, our faith has been able to penetrate through to Black and Coloured and to non Greek communities everywhere in South Africa. It has become a faith for all.
For all this to happen people had to sacrifice their life. One of them was Mandela who also after being released, united everyone and made the country one, despite of the painful past. We are worshipping as a multi-ethnic, multi-racial community sitting side by side, sharing a cup of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, being baptised in the same baptismal font. We share birthdays and wedding parties and funerals, all because of this great man who created this change. My beloved members we all belong to the Orthodox Church and we also belong to this great country. We are all reaping the fruits of liberation.
As our small contribution, just as our Archbishop has directed, we will have a memorial service at our church after the Divine Liturgy tomorrow,(8th December). Please all try to attend. After the memorial service we will conclude by our South Africa National Anthem, the hymn that reminds us of how great a nation we are and our resilient unity within diversity.
As your parish priest I share with you this grief. Together let us ask God to place his Soul where the righteous dwells, the mercies of God, and the kingdom of heaven. May the Lord forgive us all that we may have done knowing or unknowing, in thoughts or deeds, for there is no one without sin except God.
May his memory be eternal.
With love and gratitude to God for the freedom of worship we all enjoy
Your parish priest