When 'just' going to church is not enough ...
I have been pondering the nature of forgiveness - probably something
to do with the coverage of Nelson Mandela's life in December
but also an article I read about Maureen Greaves.
If you remember, she was the widow of Alan Greaves, the church
organist who was murdered on his way to play for Midnight Mass
in December 2012. She and her husband are amazing people.
And I say 'are' even though of course Alan is no longer there
to be her physical inspiration. But almost from the start she
knew that she would have to come to terms with her loss by forgiving
the two young men who had attacked and killed her husband - for
no apparent reason, it seems, other than for the sheer hell of
it. She was able to do it, because she knew that is what Alan
would have wanted her to do. And - as a Church Army Evangelist
- she has found that this experience, as awful and senseless
as it was, has nevertheless given her the opportunity to speak
about her faith in many more places than she might have expected;
and it has made others listen.
That is the astonishing thing about faith - and love. It gives
us the strength to do things that we might never dream we were
capable of. Now I do not hold to the view that God has this magic
blueprint for all of our lives and micro-manages every last aspect
of them That would mean that God sanctions suffering and evil
in the world - which I cannot believe. I do accept that such
things are an inevitable consequence of him giving us free will
- the freedom to accept his love or to reject it, with all the
consequences that flow from that decision. But I also believe
that God will work with whatever reality is ours, to try to bring
from disaster something positive and, if possible, beautiful
for His world.
That is why there are people in this life like Nelson Mandela
and Maureen Greaves. They are our inspiration: more importantly,
they give us hope for the human condition in a world where too
often we seem to hear about only wrongdoing, corruption and cruelty.
I also came across another comment that really appealed to me
and which I thought I would share with you as we move into a
brand new year: "It is not for us to 'put' Jesus into anyone
- it is our role to draw him out of everyone".
There is something of God's image in each and every one of us
... may you find 'the right people around you to draw that image
out and make it shine in the darkness as we move from 2013 tto
2014. A very happy and peaceful New Year to each and every one
PS: We are getting closer to having the plans for our
new doors in Church approved. Public notices are currently posted
on our notice boards - Please do read them!