Nelson Mandela: a life for all ages, by Peter Millar

A tribute to Nelson Mandela, from member Peter Millar

A few years back, the Iona Community was invited by  J.L. Zwane Church, a large black congregation in the township of Guguletu near Cape Town, to send a person from the Community to reflect on their ministry to those in the local community living with AIDS. Over the years, I have written extensively about that rich experience.

While I was in Guguletu I paid a visit to Robben Island (my second visit ) and spent a day there thinking about the life of Nelson Mandela and his fellow prisoners. You cannot visit Robben Island without encountering the basic fact of how hard it must have been for prisoners in that place. That is an understatement. Mandela spent 18 years in that place of human suffering before being moved elsewhere. This is my tribute to one of the great souls of our time:

In that confined space
within sight of Cape Town’s shore
you were held, day after long day,
by those afraid of change, of truth, of justice.
But only your body was tied down:
your heart was free
and under that yoke
gave birth to a vision of forgiveness
which transformed
the lives of millions.
Within these narrow walls
you jettisoned hatred in favour of love,
and today
the world remembers
and gives thanks
that your walk to freedom,
long and hard,
was for us all.

– Peter Millar, Edinburgh, Scotland, 8th December, 2013

Mandela tribute Glasgow

Tribute to Nelson Mandela, Glasgow, photo © David Coleman

J. L. Zwane Church and Centre, Guguletu, South Africa

From the J.L. Zwane Church and Centre, friends in South Africa:

The J.L. Zwane Centre, named after its founding pastor and located in the heart of a poor, underprivileged township of Guguletu outside Cape Town, was established as a joint venture between the Guguletu community, the J.L. Zwane Memorial Church family and the Department of Industrial Psychology at the University of Stellenbosch in 1994, to provide space for people to meet people and share skills necessary for people growth and development.

Every Sunday the J.L. Zwane Memorial Church family listens to the preaching of the word of God and the centre provides space for them to live it out. In partnership with other communities, faith-based organisations, non-profits and committed individuals in South Africa and throughout the world, the centre provides a range of services to everyone in the local community, focusing in particular on preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, care and support, nutrition, a hospice and an after-school study programme.

J.L. Zwane Church and Centre

‘Mandela proved that love can be a greater weapon than fear’, by Ron Ferguson, from the Sunday Post, December 8th, 2013

‘I remember it well. August 4, 1988, the opening of the MacLeod Centre on Iona. It was the final day of my seven-year term as leader of the Iona Community. Chairing the event, I introduced the person who was to perform the opening ceremony, Mrs Leah Tutu, wife of Bishop Desmond Tutu …’


Prayers on the death of Nelson Mandela, from Christian Aid

Prayers on the death of Nelson Mandela

Candles © David Coleman

Candles © David Coleman


Poverty & Homelessness Action Week, 25 January – February 2, 2014

Poverty and Homelessness Action Week is organised by Church Action on Poverty, Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action:

For information, resources and events



Seems shepherds always get the worst of it …, by Sally Foster-Fulton

Seems shepherds always get the worst of it …
Cold hillsides and rocky, barren places.
Sheep and sheep and more sheep – and sleepless nights counting them.
No camels to ride or gifts to bear, no wisdom either – just second-hand news.

Seems shepherds always get the worst of it …
Bathrobes and tea towels and the back of the stage – sharing one line:
‘Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has been made known to us.’
No tinsel or glitter or golden wings.

Seems shepherds always get the worst of it …
Minimum wage and zero-hours contracts.
No pension plan or savings account – no respect either.
Just systemic injustice that keeps them in their lowly places.

Seems they had something in common with the baby they visited.
Later, he would call himself a shepherd.
Later, he would lay aside his wants for the needs of his sheep.
Later, he would say ‘If you love me, you will feed my lambs.’
In the face of the worst, he would give his best.
So there is wisdom.
There is glory without the gold.
And there is hope that there will be justice for those who always
seem to get the worst of it.

From Hope Was Heard Singing: Advent Resources,
Sally Foster-Fulton, Wild Goose Publications, 2013

Sally Foster-Fulton is Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland.

Hope Was Heard Singing

Wild Goose Publications

Share →

2 Responses to E-Coracle December

  1. Angelika Schneider says:

    Thank you for the lovely shepherd poem!


  2. Wendy Hudson says:

    Thank you for poems by Peter Millar and Sally Foster-Fulton – plain language for uncommon themes. We are trying Messy Advent’s Sheep Trail in our local shopping strip with mixed involvement by the community. Sally’s poem will be part of our Crib service in Christmas Eve as the Trail sheep return from the shops to our church, St Paul’s Geelong. Christmas Blessings to all who write and pray for our upside down world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *