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News and Reflections from Keegan Davids

Dear Jeremy and the my family at St. Johns, It’s been a while since I last wrote to you – I do hope that you are well. Thank you for your friendship and support, it means more than you know. In our preparation for this year, we realised that we have some of the most honourable, loving, genuine and generous people in our lives. We thank God for the community that we are part of. People who have taught us, loved us, held us, hung out with us, given us space to grow, prayed with us, seen us, heard us and lived the ways of Jesus with their whole lives. We have been discipled by you, and we are so thankful to Jesus for the gift of your friendship. We really hope and pray that our friendship with you has in turn brought you great delight. I am well into my second semester at seminary, and I want to report that this part of South Africa is really cold, those who live here tell me it’s not that cold, but I’m not convinced they are human. I cannot wait for the sun to warm things up here in Makhanda. Semester one was one of the hardest 6 months of my life, besides being away from my people, it was difficult to be here. The rigidity of monastic life has at times been very challenging for me and I had to dig really deep to get through. But in the end, I appreciated the space and time I was given to focus on my prayer life, to reflect on my journey and how it is shaping me into the minister I am becoming. Things here are fairly slow moving and measured; in the beginning I struggled with the pace but as the year progressed, I have come to appreciate the rhythm of life. Being in a place with a different spirituality to my own, is both challenging and eye-opening. The differences have so much room in between them and I have appreciated living in between the lines; in the tensions. I have grown since being here and have also developed a deeper appreciation for God and a clearer sense of what I am being called into. I have met some wonderful people, who have taught me a great deal about faith and commitment, but also others who have challenged my resolve and patience. Living together in a seminary is very challenging especially as we wrestle with the heart and head stuff. Before I left, a friend told me that “Seminary life is not the real world but as part of my preparation for ordained ministry, it remains a necessary one”. I didn’t understand what he meant but as I have settled into life here its making more and more sense. Being here has you coming face to face with yourself, your thoughts, your habits, your dreams, your desires, your struggles and your theology. This year, I’ve had to sit with the un - comfortability of my called self (the one people want me to be) and my real self (the one I know I am). And whilst I don’t ever want to live divorced from who I am - the ideas, expectations and story of the “priest” has been living within larger society; on the streets, in Churches, homes and the minds of people long before I walked this earth. I often wonder if this is something any of us can actually do faithfully. Those of us who feel a call to ordained ministry, are ourselves bodies like everyone else, but the things we feel in our bodies are sometimes ignored or disregarded - not because someone is telling us so, but because that’s how things are set up. The truth however; is that the bodies of the ones who are called have also navigated this world and carry in them trauma, pain, rejection, fear, hurt, abuse as well as, delight, joy, acceptance and belonging. And in my experience, there just isn’t enough space made to explore and acknowledge the things our bodies (and our minds and hearts) have gone through. In our bodies we navigate this complex world and our humanity informs our priesthood (we can’t be robotic priests) and therefore we also have to acknowledge our own complicity in the damage and pain opposed on other bodies (it’s probably a good idea to begin this process now, than begin to work out our stuff after we’ve been unleased on a community of people). Sometimes, I get the sense that as ministers we are often afraid to ask ourselves the hard questions, to live out our faith, fears and doubts in the public square. Scared of what we may have to confess to, repent of and the journey of rehabilitation and reconciliation that awaits us. But if we are not honest about who we are, about the people we are becoming, about the things we don’t know, open to learning and growing, then how are we going to lead communities of care where the justice and mercy of God is expressed through our love for one another? One of the things I have really appreciated this year at Sem, is our daily rhythm of prayer and worship and in particular the eucharist. Because it’s in this liturgy that I am confronted with who we are and who we desire to be. That the bread which we break is a sharing in the body of Christ and that we long for a reality where though we are many, we are one body. Coming to the table, in the midst of the continued abuse of women and children in our country and around the world; as places of war and conflict continue to bleed innocent lives; as racism continues to unknow people; as those with power continue to use it for their own gain; and as neighbours continue to be treated as foreigners who don’t belong. It’s a powerful, radical and prophetic declaration in the midst of the broken ideas of humanity that we live with. Ideas that are most freshly revealed in our encounters with ourselves and with one another. But in the eucharist we come to participate in the mystery of the body of Christ as the body of Christ. And we come to feast in order to RE-commit ourselves to loving Jesus, our neighbour and ourselves more faithfully. To RE-member that we are members of the same body and that pain somewhere in the body is pain everywhere in the body and to RE-imagine a world where we are all restored as a whole communion of God’s beautiful creation. It Is my most earnest prayer that we don’t only celebrate the Eucharist within the liturgy but that we embody the liturgy as we leave our gathered assembly everyday. May we all know who we are and become what we receive with honesty and in vulnerability before God but also before one another.

As we walk this road together, I pray that God gives us the grace, patience, honesty and wisdom to do so faithfully. But also, the courage to do the work to disrupt, deconstruct and decolonise oppressive structures, rules and theologies so that the transforming hope of Jesus will be discovered through the Body; the people of God on earth. Thank you for walking this road with us…

PS. We really appreciate all your prayers, messages, friendship and financial support, without it, this year would have been almost impossible. PPS. My friends at Pursuit have released this gem. Please have a listen to this wonderfulness and follow them...


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