Sunday, November 26, 2017

The church: The first steps towards unity

The church: The first steps towards unity

For years we have not known that the church is one. The church has always been one, but later got separated. This happened several years ago beginning with Martin Luther, the man behind the movement in 1517. He was a priest theologian who was firm.

He nailed 95 theses on the door of the church. Little did he know that what he had started was what was going to divide the church for a long time.

Most Protestants were brought to Harare to celebrate the coming back of the two greatest movements of all time. The Catholic Bishops Conference in Zimbabwe (CBCZ) also brought their members to this grand accession at the St Marys All Saints in Harare. This was a grand gathering to celebrate the coming together of the churches after a long time.

Among the invited dignitaries were officials from City of Harare including the mayor Bernard Manyenyeni. Many representatives from different churches from the city were also present. Diplomats were also present.

The chairperson of the Roman Catholic church said, “It is important that we can meet for joint worship on the eve of October 31, the date associated with the reformation. We meet with mixed feelings. On one hand we celebrate the renewal of the church through the ministry of Martin Luther and other reformers; but we also lament the divisions of the church of Jesus Christ. For this reason, we meet here today to both celebrate and repent.”     
For its part, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches said “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by the baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the death by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like this, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Thereafter the churches lamented together the many years they have been separated as if they were not children of one Lord.

For a long time, the church became fragmented and formed societies within societies. It is not the members’ fault as the labels are a norm. Unfortunately, there was no attempt for a long time to meet and celebrate the church as one entity. No wonder there were members in attendance who did not know that the church in this fractious form is divided.    

The church has continued to meet like nothing had gone wrong. The new Protestant movement and the old Catholic Church had not known a united church. This was the first time they had come together.

I have written somewhere that the divided church that we inherited seemed normal. We have even celebrated division in the manner we have conducted business. However, the church is better when it comes together.

The church was encouraged by the Second Vatican Council, “[to] gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowment from our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren. It is right and salutary to recognise the riches of Christ and the virtuous works in the lives of others who are bearing witness to Christ, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood. For God is always wonderful in His works and worthy of all praise.” In this, Catholics and churches of the Reformation are called to embrace each other as sisters and brothers in the Lord.

This was followed by an apologetical song. A song that showed both the Catholics and the Protestants that they are contrite for the sins of the day. The sins of staying away from each other when they were supposed to be together worshipping as sons and daughters of one Lord and one faith. Instead of working together by bringing people together and thereby demonstrating that the word was brought out here to bind us together, the church was divided with each doing its own thing.

Men and women from across the divide put aside their differences to come to a demonstration of love and acceptance at the cathedral. The Anglican church was magnanimous in that they rose above the occasion and demonstrated they can be one with the rest and worship God in one spirit.

The atmosphere was electrifying in all the procedures that were taking place in the place of worship. Each leader took people from one stage of worship to the other. Nothing was left to chance and all those who had come to worship said it was worthwhile. The denominational atmosphere which was in the worship place was because it was the first time such a service had been held.
All congregants wanted to witness what the churches could do together. The churches left no stone unturned to demonstrate that the church is one. At least for an hour it was one church that was founded by Jesus Christ when he established it in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We hope that the church shall work towards unity. It was only the name of the Lord that was exalted. After the service the people discussed why they had kept each other at arm’s length. They all left the congregation happy, knowing that they have come from a service that was graced by God. Let
those with ears hear.
l Levee Kadenge is a theologian based at United Theological College. He can be contacted on
*As The Standard celebrates 20 years, it pays tribute to the late Bornwell Chakaodza who was editor of the paper from 2002 to 2005.

Cultural responsibilities are cast in stone

Cultural responsibilities are cast in stone

The Rev Dr Levee Kadenge

Funerals of all shapes and sizes begin in town for urban dwellers and then the body is taken to a rural home, its final resting place. When a parent with a rural home dies, they are taken home so that they lie in the same place as other fallen relatives.

When relatives come to funerals, they console and pay their last respects. In line with the Shona culture, the last respects are not paid at the son-in-law’s place, but at the son’s place or at the deceased’s abode. It is cultural and given that the body of the deceased should lie in state at the home of a son and not at a daughter’s house, come what may. It is the man who has the prerogative to take charge of the funeral.

Even when a mother was taken care of at her daughter’s place, when death visits, the brother takes over. It does not matter how poor this man might be, the responsibility is his.

When you raise your children, you have to do it knowing that their roles differ and they must fit in those roles seamlessly. If they are clear about their roles, they will not fight or exchange bad words when called to take responsibility. There will be no question about who should do what when duty calls.
When children grow up, they must be prepared for big tasks ahead of them. These are the duties they have to carry out in the future. Boys will become men and head families.

As life happens, you will be placed in such a context that brings you to do what you have been prepared to for the rest of your life. If your mentors did things right, you will not fail in your responsibilities later on in life. In a rural setting, all those around you will prepare you for your future tasks. 

When you are being sent to look after cattle, parents are not busying you for nothing. They can beat you up if you fail in that task because they are teaching you to take responsibility. Just by herding cattle, you develop different qualities that are critical later in life.

Recently a local woman passed on. The funeral was at her son’s place. That is the time we learnt she had a son.

The son, who had been overshadowed by the girls, had to claim his place as one to lead the mother’s funeral and to host the mourners. His sisters contributed towards funeral expenses as the brother played the father figure.

Since she was going to be buried in Hwedza, the funeral party left the son’s place for the rural home.
So, fathers and mothers, be assured that when you die the boys will take their roles as boys and girls will play supporting roles.

We saw it happen a couple of weeks ago. Such is the way of life when everything falls in place in the way the children were brought up. They are schooled to know the way they should follow, which includes taking care of elderly parents in time of need. We are happy everything went well and the son hosted the mourners. Thank you son for taking care of business when it was your turn. The last respects were paid at the rightful place.

Those with ears, let them hear.
l Levee Kadenge is a theologian based at United Theological College, Harare.  He can
be contacted at

Monday, November 13, 2017

Relatives can do better than just attending funerals

Relatives can do better than just attending funerals
By Rev Dr Levee Kadenge
Parents should be looked after by those who would have remained behind. There is no reason why that shouldn’t be the case. I recently attended a funeral where there were several people but unfortunately, they did not know each other. I wondered what was happening at this funeral where each one who stood up to say something started by saying they did not know the other mourners.

The minister tried to bring order but could not. Her efforts were in vain because of the confusion since most of the mourners were seeing each other for the first time. The people had come from distant places to lend dignity to the funeral but did not seem like they were there to console each other. they gathered because they were related to the deceased in one way or the other. The deceased woman was in her late 90s.

It was a huge gathering of people brought together by death. It all started when one person stood up to give his speech and said that he was sure most people did not know each other. This is what he said; “I was brought up in this home when I was very young.  Little did I know that I would come to bury this old lady. I was brought up here as a young person by my parents and I went to schools in this community.” He had retraced his steps to the village to bury the lady who had played a role in his life when he was still young.

Another lady stood up and made a clear reference to that effect, that she also was brought up in the deceased’s family but very few people knew who she was. Then, it was a young woman’s turn to speak. This woman was very young indeed and she was coming to the village for the first time.

This is what she said; “They looked for me because I am in the lineage of the family that gave birth to the ‘child’.  I did not know that I was so important to the extent they had to dig for me and found me in the back of my rural area.  I am the mother of this one who has died, but this is my first time to come here. Today, I am here to bury my daughter and I am so honoured even though I did not know her during her lifetime.”

Such was the extent to which this woman belonged. She had several relatives who came from far and near but did not know that they were bound to each other by how they related with the deceased.
When the pastor realised that the people at the funeral did not know each other, she put away her planned notes and gave us a unique service on that beautiful day. She understood the shortcomings of the people that were gathered there that day. She started by saying that what she had prepared was going to be for the next generation. Today, she was going to preach on what she had sensed lacked at the funeral.

She said all her days in the ministry she had never come at a funeral that she met so many people who claimed that they did not know each other. She did blame the old woman, she also blamed relatives who did not visit her or each other. The deceased was a respected person in the community yet she did not create an opportunity for her to be visited by such a group of people who had come to mourn her. This included her relatives which she should have known herself.

For 14 years she had not been up and about like other people who would travel to and from her village.  She was wheelchair-bound.  So there was no way she could have travelled to see all her relatives. What could she have done to leave the village? She was bound to it by her incapacity.

We should check on each other when we are still strong in this life. Relatives should not wait for such sad events as death to come together and then seek to relate with each other during mourning. Why should one get a huge crowd of mourners when they were lonely in life? The ones that do not visit their incapacitated or sick relatives should not bother with paying the last respects.

At this funeral, there were so many people who had gone there for the first time. Why only appear to bury someone when there was no meaningful relationship when the deceased was still around? The minister was so touched she said first-time visitors should not have bothered coming.        

People should make an effort to cultivate relationships. It is very important. The journey to pay last respects does not make sense if there was no relationship to talk about in the first place. Get to know your relatives before they die.
Those with ears, let them hear.

l Levee Kadenge is a theologian based at United Theological College. He can be contacted on

One Response to Relatives can do better than just attending funerals

  1. Weevil-cum-G40 November 12, 2017 at 4:52 pm #
    Amen to that, Rev Dr Kadenge!