Sunday, 7 April 2019

Reconciliation - A Lenten Discipline.

By the time you read this, we will have entered Passiontide; the formal name for the last two weeks of the Lenten season. It gets its name from Christ’s passion which begins with Jesus determinedly heading to Jerusalem where he will be hailed as Messiah; jeered at and ridiculed; betrayed, condemned and crucified. The drama of this fortnight is visualised as we turn from the purple of Lent to the red of Holy Week and the white of the Easter season.

During Lent, I have been reading Muthuraj Swamy’s book ‘Reconcilliation.’ The book contains 40 Bible studies with stories from across the globe focussed on the theme of reconciliation. It’s a moving read as we turn with Christ towards Jerusalem to accomplish His great work at the cross. The point that the book makes is that reconciling is not just a work of Christ but *the* work of all people who seek to follow His Way.

Christ calls all of us who seek to follow Him to be peacemakers who cross borders and barriers that divide us - radical in our generosity and welcome. It calls us to see others in their full humanity and to persist in seeking their good; all of this rooted in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus *are* the story of God’s reconciliation being told in our world still.

Reconciliation is one of our greatest needs and toughest challenges as human beings. We have seen that unfold powerfully and personally in Northern Ireland and in South Africa. Reconciliation is still much needed in our communities and nation especially as our future relationship with our European neighbours remains unresolved or sections of our community living in fear of gang-led knife crime.

Reconciliation begins with each and every one of us. It begins where we reach out to a near neighbour in conversation; where we put to one side our power and position and seek something new, together. That new thing may lead to community; it opposes the isolation that affects every social demographic of our communities; and enables us as Christian communities to reach out to invite and welcome people amongst whom we live, to encounter the love that God has for all of us in Jesus Christ. You can see how the PCC hopes we might outwork that in real terms in our new Mission Action Plan which you will find published in the laster pages of this magazine.

As we move through Passiontide into Easter and celebrate the reconciliation wrought for us as Christ was raised, I hope you will seek to follow Him as this story unfolds in the life of the Church; but I hope you will seek to follow Him as this story unfolds on our streets and in our neighbourhoods to allow this ministry of reconciliation, as St Paul calls it, to transform our lives and communities.