Remembering Archbishop Tutu
A Personal Reflection
For me 2021 will not only be remembered for its many COVID related ministry pressures, but also for a year in which several faithful members of our denomination passed on to glory. Added to that, it is also the year in which we lost South Africa’s last two living Nobel Peace prize winners, FW De Klerk and Desmond Tutu.
Ironically, I was driving past Archbishop Tutu’s house at the time the announcement of his death came in and it made me think back to other moments when we were in the same place, the first of which was his visit to St James Church, Kenilworth, after the June 1993 attack. I remember Bishop Tutu’s gracious and courageous efforts to bring South Africans together through the Truth and Reconciliation commission and his warm words to those St James victims who forgave their attackers for these “foul deeds”.
Many commentators around the world have rightly praised Archbishop Tutu for his fearless persistence in speaking truth to power. He remained consistent in pricking the nation’s conscience both during the old Apartheid government and the present ANC leadership. This is certainly a commendable Christian attribute and one from which many believers can learn.
It must also be said that there were significant doctrinal disagreements that kept us (and our denominations) from a closer relationship. There are many years of painful history between us. Even so, we are grateful to God for the courage of Archbishop Tutu in taking a public stand against the wickedness of Apartheid at a time when many of us remained shamefully silent. For this, we can certainly learn from his example as we seek to follow the Lord’s word to be salt and light in this world (Micah 6:8; Matthew 5:13f).
May the Lord help us to reflect the light of His salvation in our lives and our words.