In An African Prayer Book, Desmond Tutu wrote:
Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death.
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.
This prayer originated earlier than the publication for the Prayer Book, during Tutu’s ministry under South African apartheid, which was a political and social system designed to separate Black and White South Africans. The police and government violently enforced racial separation. Protesters were attacked, sometimes killed. Neighborhoods were designated White or Black. Schools were forced to teach children they weren’t as worthy, lovable, or valuable as the White students across town. Apartheid is the result of a system of thinking that positions one group of people above another. South Africa isn’t the only country to confront systematic and historical race-based oppression, and the work there, and here in my country, isn’t over. Racism is a sin, as is any bigotry and hatred of another.
Despite living in a culture that was violent, deeply divided, and broken, Desmond Tutu had hope. And love. His faith in God and Jesus was a comfort to him when he was threatened for speaking out against apartheid and his life is a model to us who seek to follow Jesus into a world of hurt, brokenness, and violence. Tutu spoke out from a place of deep love for his fellow humans, urging them to embrace forgiveness and peacemaking as more powerful and healing than revenge on those who had enforced apartheid. His life’s story is a powerful example of how to live out the words he penned here.
John Bell, from the Iona Community (where we will go later!), wrote music to this prayer in 1996. I recorded it for you so you could learn it. it is a great song for little ones because it is short, repetitive, and lends itself to motions. I also am sharing with you this YouTube clip of a congregation singing this song.