Monday, October 19, 2015

WMTRBW 8: Rivalry or Reconciliation?

Yesterday in worship, as we read the story of Jacob and Esau from Genesis 32:24-33:17, we talked about the big "R-word" of the Christian faith: Reconciliation. We meditated together on the challenging words of the Apostle Paul from his second letter to the Corinthians:

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to [God's]self through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

I spoke in general terms about the many places our world is crying out for us to do the hard work of reconciliation, between individuals and between groups; but I didn't have time in the sermon to talk about some of the many amazing concrete examples. I did a Google search for news stories about reconciliation from the past month or two, and found some really interesting ones. I'd challenge you, in parallel to reading the chapter this week, to read at least one of the articles linked below--whichever one captures your attention. Just click on the description and it will take you to the article. How does the story you read challenge you as your consider your calling as a Minister of Reconciliation?

Film by POW's daughter explores reconciliation with Japanese

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Addresses Treatment of its Native People Groups

Reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Muslim Groups Seen as Best Way to Deal with ISIS and other Extreme Groups in Iraq

Exhibit in Baltimore of work by painter who used her art to promote Racial Reconciliation

Sri Lanka's struggle to use South Africa's model for Reconciliation after long, violent Civil War

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read about the Japan/POW film Here is my comment
Bill and I recently visited with a friend and her husband whose parents took him to Japan in 1946 when they went at the request of General MacArthur to the nation for people of faith to help fill the spiritual void in Japan following the war when the Emperor was no longer claiming divine status. He recalled the total devastation he, a 6 year old saw. He also recounted the information that the Japanese were lined up outside their houses in lines as bulldozers opened a path through the wreckage for his parents to travel on. These people later told his parents they had lined up assuming the Americans would shoot all of them since they knew if their soldiers were entering a defeated nation they would shoot all the people still there. Who knows if that would have been true or not. Who knows if those people assumed their soldiers were that uncaring about human life. But it spoke to me of the fear and misery the civilian population of Japan suffered as the war went on and on.

Bill worked with a man who was a prisoner of war in Japan from about a month after the opening of the war until its end. He said as long as there was food the prisoners were fed more or less reasonably but at the end when the war was winding down starvation in the civilian and military population was so bad that the prisoners were tending sweet potato gardens and they were eating the vines after harvest while the people were existing on potatoes alone. Too much suffering for everyone.

My close friend Dejan told me that when he was a soldier in Serbia during the conflict he heard his commanding officer say that he had waited all his life to attack the people the Serbs were killing. As a young boy he was playing in the woods and saw the parents of those he was now slaughtering as they entered his house, took his family outside, shot and killed his parents, raped his sisters and then killed them as well. He had waited for vengeance all during the Tito years and when the government changed and the Serbs were free to do so, he delighted in taking vengeance on the group who had, many years before, killed those he loved.

War is dreadful and only reconciliation can bring an end to the defeated side waiting till they are strong and then attacking their former enemies. An eye for an eye is not the way of Jesus of Nazareth.