‘Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life’ (John 12: 25) … a statue of Archbishop Luwum (right) on the façade of Westminster Abbey
These weeks, between the end of Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, are known as Ordinary Time. We are in a time of preparation for Lent, which in turn is a preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
Before today becomes a busy day, I am taking some time for prayer and reflection early this morning.
In these days of Ordinary Time before Ash Wednesday next week (22 February), I am reflecting in these ways each morning:
1, reflecting on a saint or interesting person in the life of the Church;
2, one of the lectionary readings of the day;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’
Archbishop Janani Jakaliya Luwum (1922-1977) is recalled on this day in a lesser Festival in the Calendar of the Church of England and other Anglican churches. He was the Archbishop of the (Anglican) Church of Uganda from 1974, and was one of the most influential modern Church leaders in Africa. He was murdered in 1977 by either Idi Amin personally or by Amin’s henchmen.
The archbishop was born in a village in Uganda 1922, and trained as a primary teacher before he converted to Christianity in 1948. A year later, he went to Buwalasi Theological College, and he was ordained deacon in 1953 and priest in 1954. He was consecrated a bishop in 1961 and five years later became Archbishop of the Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire – the second African to hold this position.
Archbishop Luwum was openly critical of the excesses of Idi Amin and his regime after he seized power in 1971. In 1977, the archbishop delivered a note of protest to Idi Amin against the policies of arbitrary killings and disappearances. Shortly after, he and other Church leaders were accused of treason.
On 16 February 1977, he was arrested and was publicly humiliated at a rally called in Kampala by Amin. He was killed the next day – supposedly in a car crash, although he had been shot through the mouth and in the chest several times. Time magazine suggested Amin himself had pulled the trigger.
The Gospel reading this morning (John 12: 24-32) is a reminder, as we remember Archbishop Janani Luwum, of meaning of self-giving and the risk martyrdom in Christian thinking.
Archbishop Janani Luwum is recognised as a martyr in the Church of England and other Anglican churches, and his statue is among those of the Martyrs of the 20th Century on the west façade of Westminster Abbey.
John 12: 24-32 (NRSVA):
[Jesus said:] 24 ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
27 ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30 Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’
USPG Prayer Diary:
The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Bray Day.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by Jo Sadgrove, USPG’s Research and Learning Advisor, who shared the challenges of uncovering USPG’s archives.
The USPG Prayer Diary today invites us to pray in these words:
We pray for the work of Garfield Campbell as he explores USPG’s archives. May USPG learn from both its history and from its growing relationship with the Church of the Province of the West Indies.
God of truth,
whose servant Janani Luwum walked in the light,
and in his death defied the powers of darkness:
free us from fear of those who kill the body,
that we too may walk as children of light,
through him who overcame darkness by the power of the cross,
Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Post-Communion Prayer:
God our redeemer,
whose Church was strengthened by the blood of your martyr Janani Luwum:
so bind us, in life and death, to Christ’s sacrifice
that our lives, broken and offered with his,
may carry his death and proclaim his resurrection in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
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