A new year message from the Bishop of Worcester

A NEW year message to the people of Worcestershire from Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester.

The media, quite rightly, gave a great deal of attention to the life of Nelson Mandela following his death. It was generally agreed that this most remarkable man was a giant who towered above all other leaders in the twentieth century.

The most moving account I read was by one of the chaplains who ministered to Mandela whilst he was in prison. On one occasion, Mandela gently stopped him during a service and went over to the young warder who was supervising. 'Brand,' he asked, 'are you a Christian?' 'Yes,' the warder, Christo Brand, responded. "Well then, you must take off your cap, and join us round this table. You cannot sit apart. This is holy communion, and we must share and receive it together.'

"Brand removed his cap, and, joining the circle, received holy communion.

"To appreciate the significance of this incredible act of inclusive love, one needs to be aware not only of its spiritual, but also of its political significance. The fact that Christo Brand was white, and that he had responded to an invitation from a black, and so naturally, was deeply moving. Brand had political power, but submitted to the power of the Holy Spirit working through Nelson, the prisoner.

"I am one of the many millions who never knew Mandela but have been inspired by him. Someone said to me a week back: ‘I wish all those who admire Nelson Mandela so much would seek to emulate him. Wouldn’t that be a good new year’s resolution for us all?"

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