I have many fond memories of serving as Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s personal assistant in 2002 when he was in residence at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. Sure, it was fun to meet and work with many world leaders and international journalists, but those experiences did not reveal the depth of Father’s intense and abiding faith in God that I came to cherish.
The most precious moments came during our daily celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, often with just the two of us present. We shared an intimate, holy connection with each other and with the Divine. Father spoke often of the “messy relationship” between the humanity and divinity of Christ: We are always trying to pull Jesus down into the mud even as he is lifting us up toward the glories of heaven. Together we prayed for an end to endemic disease, selfish violence and loveless cruelty. And we prayed that Christ would lift us up along with the poor and hungry and lonely and forgotten—all of us so profoundly in need of God’s grace and mercy.
It is fitting that Father should leave this temporal realm as we celebrate God’s most wonderful gift of the Word made flesh—eternal Love Incarnate. Perhaps that “messy relationship” is what binds him and us so closely to the heart of God.
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Desmond. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. May the angels rise to greet him and dance with him in joyful bliss. Amen.