We could be forgiven for thinking that the world is inextricably divided and always was and always will be. The news of wars and conflicts, of relationships between nations, and also within nation, breaking down and leading to fear and terror.
Will reconciliation ever be viable in some of the most war-torn places?
St Paul wrote that the desire for reconciliation comes from God not from people - it is Gods desire to get right up alongside, indeed even inside us. To touch our very hearts and souls, the deepest parts of our being.
How does this change our perception of God? It’s not us striving to draw close to God but God who is trying to get to us! And what stops God? What Paul calls our sinful rebelliousness. The things that get in the way are those things mentioned above: divisions and hatred. It is a firm Biblical principle that the division is a corruption of how the Kingdom of God should operate. The longer the human race insists on dividing itself then the harder it gets to establish God’s Kingdom. Shamefully, the church is not exempt from this divisive behaviour.
As we move towards the season of Lent – traditionally a time for repentance and self-examination - we might consider not only where we as individuals wish to seek reconciliation and healing, but also what it is about our community, our society, our whole world that blocks the love of God from flourishing. I like the phrase of thinking globally and acting locally. Locally can mean our own hearts and globally can mean as wide as we can possibly stretch our imaginations.
The church offers a practical step towards reconciliation through healing services, something that the churches in this Benefice have been offering for a year now. This month we offer 3 separate occasions for healing prayers (see the table of services); it is a chance for anyone to engage in a time of reflection on those parts of our lives that need healing most. The 2 services at Everton and Hatley will use quietness and meditation and the morning service at Gamlingay will take place within the context of communion. In all cases we will ask for God’s healing presence to guide us.
Guilt and division has been characteristics of human communities for as long as there have been human communities; reconciliation therefore has been crucial to our relationships. Lent is a time for recognising where we need to be reconciled because that’s what God calls us to do.
Revd Steven Rothwell