As part of the follow-up from my trip to Israel and Palestine last April, I met yesterday at Cov-entry Cathedral with my fellow travellers. We are definitely an ecumenical group (I did say that it was nice that we were all together on the 498th anniversary of the Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses!) with our differing theological emphases and practices but we are united on the need for reconciliation in this world. As Christians we rely on God’s reconciling of us to himself through his Son and as disciples of his Son we seek reconciliation in this world – firstly, for people to know and trust Jesus and secondly, for people to be reconciled to each other. Nei-ther is easy – but, of course, not in the league of what Jesus did on the cross for us.
Meeting at Coventry Cathedral and having a tour there and learning about their ministry of reconciliation was a good reminder that conflicts (eg. WW2 or Northern Ire-land) do not have to remain in perpetuity. Conflict can end. There can be peace. Despairing over Israel and Palestine or other areas of the Middle East or other conflict zones – including those at home or ‘across the back fence’ – that things will never get better – is under-standable. But as with everything in this world – includ-ing conflict, injustice, sin, and death – they will all come to end. Nothing in this world will have the last word. That will fall to God who in Jesus has al-ready declared peace into conflict, righteousness over injustice, forgiveness to the sinner, and life in the face of death. What disciples do is to seek to live these words out in their homes and countries. Under the cross, we can see ourselves and those ‘against’ us similarly – as en-snared by sin and fear. This was brought home to me in the litany of reconciliation that is used at the cathedral each weekday.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, Father Forgive.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own, Father Forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth, Father Forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others, Father Forgive.
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee, Father Forgive.
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children, Father Forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God, Father Forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Jesus could pray ‘Father forgive them’ for he hadn’t sinned against them but for the rest of us, I think, Provost Richard Howard who had the two words inscribed on the wall of the ruined cathedral after it was bombed in 1940 had it right that in conflict we all need God’s gift of rec-onciliation. — GS