'Ukumbuke' is a command - a polite imperative if you want to get technical. It means 'Remember.'
'Ukumbuke Neema yako. Ukatili ni dhambi.'
The assigned theme and assigned texts for preachers in the ELCT this weekend are clear and unequivocal. Psalm 10:1-11
, Luke 20:9-16
, and Acts 21:27-36
... these are not passages for the faint of heart. Bold and uncompromising, the message proclaimed in Lutheran Churches across Tanzania this coming weekend demands that one listens:
"Remember Grace," it says, "Violence is sin."
Watching from afar as another mass shooting ends lives and tears open old wounds in my homeland, I'm embraced in bewilderment by companions here in Iringa. With more questions than answers, they wonder how we -their friends in America- could possibly let this be.
The selected words of the Psalmist seem to speak to the day:
Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor-
let them be caught in the schemes they have devised...
Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.
They sit in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places they murder the innocent.
Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert;
they lurk that they may seize the poor;
they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.
They stoop, they crouch,
and the helpless fall by their might.
They think in their heart, "God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it."
'Violence is sin,' this is plain to see. But Grace? Where is Grace? In these days and in these texts it seems distant at best. And that's why we need the imperative command Ukumbuke.
Not always obvious and not cheaply given, we remember grace is found in a promise and tasted in a cup. Wherever two or more are gathered in Christ's name - regardless of nationality, age, gender, or political persuasion - there Christ is, there we are, and there we must remember. In mourning and in marching, each in our own way, we put feet to our faith and actively seek an end to violence and sin. And, in doing so, we do remember.
We must always remember,
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega and Assistant to the Bishop