The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adderÂs den.
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11: 6-9
This is the time of year when we look at the Old Testament prophecies, which, in part, seem to point to the coming of Christ or to the Âend times.Â The prophecy from Isaiah 11 was one of the readings last Sunday, the 2nd Sunday in Advent. As I read it I thought, but I am seeing this prophecies fulfilled, albeit it only partially, this week.
In the week that saw the death of Nelson Mandela the whole world seemed to rise up to celebrate this extraordinary man as if he were their own Â and in a way, Mandela does belong to the whole world, even though South Africa has first claim on him. Like all truly great men, he rose above those things that separate us by working for justice for all people, including care of those who were oppressed by being oppressors. One of the things said about him was that he had integrity. In his wake he created integrity. His ÂRainbow People,Â have shown to the world that the wolf can live with the lamb and the leopard lie down with the kid. What we do not see and can never know is the internal struggle, courage and perseverance Â and above all ability to stand in the other personÂs shoes; that it must have taken to become the person he was.
Great people become icons for the whole world. They give us something to live up to. They give us hope because they make us realise it is possible to become truly ÂhumanÂ human beings. Thus we honour Gandi, Martin Luther King, Mandela and others. Their nationality doesnÂt matter; their religion doesnÂt matter (even though deep faith made each of these men), the colour of their skin doesnÂt matter. What matters is that they see beyond the individual and the insular to the community of humankind.
For me Mandela reflects what it is to be a son of God. We know that South Africa has huge problems and that with the passing of time it could go backwards as well as forwards. But for a moment we have seen and watched lived out the kingdom of God and its values of mercy, forgiveness, justice and freedom for all people. The world has come together this week in joy and thanksgiving for the hope Mandela has given us. This is a real Advent message.