Archbishop Emeritus Telesphore Mpundu astonished the large congregation, which included President Edgar Lungu, when he spoke at the inauguration of the new Archbishop of Lusaka, Dr Alick Banda on 14 April.  “Politicians,” he said, “spend much of their energy trying to pull other politicians down rather than working on policies that would improve the quality of life for the people of Zambia.”  He developed his theme with gusto, humour and passion.

As a relative newcomer to Zambia and as one who reads at least three newspapers of differing points of view each day, I found my own evolving opinion of what I see in the country echoed by one who is a Zambian and who has observed the situation in his country from a bird’s eye point of view for all his 70+ years.  I found it incredibly courageous and prophetic and when the President came to speak, he acknowledged the wisdom of what was said.

The president of the Zambian Bishops’ Conference, Bishop George Lungu of Chipata, then thanked Archbishop Mpundu for his years of service and he drew out the three qualities we had just witnessed: his gift of speech, presenting his message with humour and the courage to really say what had to be said.

The Cathedral was packed and it was a vibrant celebration of the local Church. It was moving to see the Orthodox Archbishop of Central Africa on the altar with his white beard, flowing black cassock – and an iphone, taking in the scene! There were also Catholic bishops from Malawi and Kenya present among the more than a dozen bishops.

There were two choirs: one which sang classical Church music from the universal Church and was led by an electronic organ which filled the huge Cathedral. They sang the Greek Kyrie, the Latin litany of the saints and Handel’s Halleluia chorus (at communion). The other choir sang more traditional local hymns with which the congregation were more familiar.  Obvious attempts were made to have the two choirs complement each other and give rich variety to the celebration.  I did not sense that they were competing with each other as could – and sometimes does – happen.

A beautiful spontaneous moment for me was at the beginning when Archbishop Mpundu walked across the space in front of the altar to hand his crozier to the new Archbishop, symbolizing the passing of authority for the Archdiocese from one person to another. As he completed this gesture he turned to the congregations, opened his arms and shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, “That’s it!”  Everyone laughed and felt at one with him.

15 April 2018                          Sunday of Easter 3 B

Acts 3:13…19                         1 John 2:1-5                                        Luke 24:35-48

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