Saturday, 30 August 2014

Portia and Amber

Public Engagement

The last C4L bulletin, called Three Kings Festival, contained a list of 15 men whose murders are taking their toll in Mpumalanga province.

On Christmas Eve last year, this grim litany crossed the gender barrier.  A woman called Portia Mlangeni was shot at her home.  She is in intensive care.  Your prayers are solicited for her recovery.  The Sunday Times today reports that police are investigating a possible link between that attack and the murder of Johan Ndlovu featured in the last C4L bulletin.  Portia works at Ehlanzeni Disaster Management – thus she is a colleague in the broadest sense as C4L’s focus has always combined disaster and development management.

Private Agony

Amber Joubert died on December 27th after a car crash.  There was nothing political about that incident, but in her name I found a message for her mother, a dear friend of mine…

Amber rhymes with sombre
But she was not like that at all
She was sunny and bright

Her eclipse was total
But you can still see the sun flares
Effervescent outside the core eclipse
Memories and photos
That refuse to let darkness overcome her light

Amber is the colour of frankincense
A resin from trees
Clear and fragrant
An incense used for worship
To celebrate the sacrifice

The Magi brought frankincense and myrrh
To the Adoration
Amber at birth
A lovely name
A baby
Given to service and sacrifice

Myrrh is for burial
Everyone needs it
Even the one who took captivity captive
In Amber’s case it was sooner, not later

But frankincense at birth was sombre
Not just death, but sacrifice
Not just a life, but a gift
Not just a man, but deity
The Lamb of God

Frankincense and myrrh combined again
In Amber’s departure
For her short life was not in vain
Her death had a purpose
That is embedded in her name

Some deaths are expected
Others are predictable but still tragic
Some are a release
Only a few can become

God asked Abraham to release his only son
After all the drama of his emergence
From a barren womb
On that same mountain
Centuries later
God forsook his only begotten Son
A watershed sacrifice
He was embalmed with myrrh
Worshipped with frankincense

Amber’s death was tragic
But not her life
Her name is a clue
To a mystery
Lovely and fragrant
Calm amidst upheaval
Amber was a gift
More precious than gold
More meaningful than myrrh
Understood only by star-gazers
Ponder that in your heart
God took her
His protection did not fail
That is evident
From his timing
For Amber was taken
At the festival of three kings

Please pray for Amber’s mom, Jay, and for her little sister.  About 500 people attended her memorial service yesterday in White River – evidence that a 20-year old can command plenty of esteem in the community.  While we may not understand, we can be sure that God has a purpose. Epiphany is ending, time to take that sign +C+M+B down from the door lintel!