Devotional Classics, a devotional book by JR Foster and JB Smith has become standard reading for anyone who wish to understand a little bit about the varied practices of Christian spirituality. In it they define six main expressions of Christian practice.
These are the Prayer Filled Life (Contemplative Tradition), the Virtuous Life (Holiness Tradition or Devotional Surrender), The Spirit Empowered Life (Charismatic Tradition), the Word Cantered Life (Evangelical Tradition), Sacramental Life (Incarnational Tradition), and the Compassionate Life (Social Justice Tradition or the Prayer of Deeds).
While all six of these themes of Christian life should be held in balance in the life of a disciple of Christ, we find that one is emphasized, often at the expense of others. There are no prices for working out where Anglicans are placed within Foster and Smith’s work. In our churches the altar dominates. It is housed in a sanctuary, from where specially trained worship leaders lead the worship. At almost every service the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is celebrated. We’ve been drawn to what Foster and Smith call the Sacramental, or the Incarnational Tradition.
A good discussion can be had in Bible study classes about these expressions of Christian practice. For now, I wish to draw your attention to the Compassionate Life, also called the Social Justice Tradition, or more simply, and this is the name I prefer, the Prayer of Deeds. We focus on the prayer of Deeds because the ministry of Tumelong essentially is to help the holy faithful people of God in our Diocese to take seriously the call of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 25:23-46. It is in this text that the righteous are judged by the words: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me” (vv35-36).
Often in the life of a Christian the focus is on the first part of the teaching of our Lord: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. But this is an incomplete focus. The Prayer of Deeds is a call to complete the Lord’s teaching and bring balance through a focus on the latter part of this teaching: Love your neighbour as yourself.
The Prayer of Deeds is the call to the holy faithful people of God to seek the total transformation of individuals and communities. The response to this call will involve one in relief work, development work, social transformation, and taking position against all that which oppress and cause suffering.
Tumelong is rightly referred to as the relief and social development arm of the Diocese of Pretoria. But who is Tumelong? At present it seems as if it is Paulina Tlaka and her staff, assisted by a small sprinkling of the faithful. There is huge room for improvement in the participation of parishes in the important work of Tumelong. It is hoped that the newly appointed fieldworker will help to bridge the divide between Tumelong and the rest of the Diocese.
As always, our deep gratitude and appreciation is extended to Paulina Tlaka and her staff. They, together with the Friends of Tumelong, the Governing Body, and the individuals and parishes who pray and give to help Tumelong achieve its mandate deserve our special thanks.
Let us commit again here today to live the Prayer of Deeds by taking up the complete teaching of Christ.
The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
The Right Revd AJ Kannemeyer
Bishop of Pretoria (Anglican) and Chairman of the Governing Body

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