Rev Michael Barnes 2/6/19


Up, up and inside

When European missionaries came to South Africa, they faced a theological conundrum.

The indigenous people believed that God lived in the ground. Caves and holes were sacred spaces. To this day, the traditions of Africa see their beloved dead buried in the kraal, (corral). When an African is facing life’s challenges, a sacred ritual is to return to the kraal at one’s home and pour the froth of traditional beer into the earth before asking advice of the ancients who are buried there amongst their cattle.

The European missionaries were creed bound to teach that God lived in the sky, and also that there was a place called hell (which African cosmology had no reference, or need for) deep in the earth. The way they did this “preaching” literally turned the psyche of Africans around from the ‘God of the deep’ to the ‘God of the sky,’ thus creating a deep tear in the soul of Africans who were already, by their very nature, profoundly theistic people.

Today, it is not so easy to speak of the notion of the ascension.

I am tickled, however, by the African notion of the abode of God in the earth. What if Africans are correct and Jesus came from God who lives in the earth? He would then have descended on this Feast day, back into the earth from which he came. I wonder how that simple change of orientation would have changed our world history? (