Monday, 5 September 2016

Forgiveness and giving in change

In the modern world we are subject to an enormous and continuing pressure to change.  Each moment of change is an experiment in life that either can bring disaster, a positive outcome or a mixture of both, especially when it is a group or community that is in that process.  In any process involving groups and communities it is going to be a given that some will like what is happening and others will be resistant to the new beginning preferring the old.  Yet, sometimes the design has a flaw and a certain amount of change needs to be made to create a new vessel of celebration (Jeremiah 18.1-11).

In the passage from Jeremiah however the pot that was to be is re-formed completely into a newer vessel.  The ingredients are the same but the purpose to which they have been put is entirely different.  The potter has an understanding before re-forming the vessel as to what is required and utilises the clay to re-imagine a new vessel.  In the same way each of us in our lives re-form ourselves over time.  I am not the person I was ten years ago and am certainly not the same person I was twenty years ago.  I have re-formed myself or rather God has re-directed my life in different directions and ways.  I am certain that if we were to think about our own lives none of us are the same now as opposed to twenty, thirty or fifty years ago.  Yes we have all grown older but the way we do things, our interests, our vision of the future is completely different,  In the same way we must also come to realise that our community of faith needs to be re-formed as we continue our faith journey together as we move into the future and this does not come without pain as change in life is never without hurt and sadness as we move from something familiar into something new.

How well do we listen to each other's concerns?

Yet when we are in pain and when we resist the call that is God we often forget the underlying fact that we are called in love not in hatred.  In our resistance, or in our insistence, to change we utilise our persuasive tongues in ways that are damaging to others, breaking not building relationships, which often times brings out a natural tendency to retaliate,  In this manner we become responsible for the divisions which escalate in time and in some instances, if broad enough, lead eventually to violence.  Until we are able to own our own mistakes, our own misguided visions of both the past and the future and seek to heal the rift we our unable to operate as a holy people.  Black Eyed Peas the singing group have re-released a powerful video asking "Where is the love?", a question we need to ask of ourselves in as a faith community and as a community.  The cross of our own inability to live in love and harmony with our neighbour is the weighty cross that we place upon our backs.  This cross holds us back from forming and living as the body of Christ in the world.  This is not the cross of Christ.

Part of the process is listening to the other, and all of us must listen, both disgruntled and happy, both sad and happy, both those passing by and those who are staying.  In listening we begin to understand the wealth of misunderstanding, the need to learn from each other and from others, the issues with instant response as opposed to considered advice. Having listened to each other we also have to listen to our own voices and our own tensions as it is often these unacknowledged issues that drive discord.  In understanding our own role in discord and disharmony, intentional or not,  we need to own those ideas, griefs and misunderstandings.  We need to own the times when we have been part of the problem and not part of the solution, the times when it has been our own intransigence and our own blindness that has caused the hurt.  It is at this point that the clay that is our wills and our senses and our thoughts in God's hands that start to become reformed and part of something new.

Once we have deposited our self created burdens at the foot of the cross is when we begin to come closer to being able to pick up the cross that Christ asks us to carry.  It is a light cross in comparison to the burdens we lay upon ourselves.  Yet paradoxically it is perhaps the hardest cross that we will ever have to lift in our lives.  The burden we are asked to carry is the burden that God has given to us as part of creation.  It is the burden that the Black Eyed Peas question as to where it is.  The burden of love which expands to cover all of humanity and all of the world.  It does not consider race, religion, colour or gender as a mark of distinction.  Once we accept that burden we understand that our commitment is to the spread of God's love.  In committing ourselves we give up our old lives and live lives centred in God.  This means that we give of ourselves to the ministries that we are involved in to the benefit of all and not just for ourselves.  Willingly bearing the additional burdens that this brings as we know that God will recompense our efforts on hundredfold.

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