Parish Magazine Article - January 2019
“God has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
Confusion and uncertainty are all around us in this country at the moment. There is one thing that is very clear: there is much division, conflict and unease. There is an urgent need for reconciliation in many different parts of our society.
But it’s not as if the United Kingdom is the only part of the world where there is tension. A few weeks ago I was privileged to take a party of 53 – almost all from the diocese – on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
As well as visiting many of the holy sites and being encouraged and heartened by seeing many of the places associated with Jesus’ ministry, we received some insights into how life is now in Israel and Palestine, given the long history of conflict between the two.
A major highlight was meeting with two men, one an Israeli Jew and the other a Palestinian Muslim, both of whom had lost young daughters, brutally killed in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Brought together through personal tragedy, Rami and Bassam work for an organisation called “Parents Circle – Families Forum”. Its subtitle “Israeli – Palestinian bereaved families for peace” speaks for itself.
Our meeting with Rami and Bassam was immensely moving and profoundly challenging. Personal tragedy and conflict can – understandably - lead to a desire for revenge, which in turn feeds further violence. Or it can stimulate a desire for understanding, forgiveness and reconciliation. It is this desire which motivates Rami and Bassam.
Our need for reconciliation is nothing like as dramatic, but it’s real, nonetheless. I’d like to encourage you to pray the following prayer, often and from the heart:
God of reconciling hope, as you guided your people in the past,
guide us through the turmoil of the present time,
and bring us to that place of flourishing where our unity can be restored,
the common good served, and all shall be made well.
In the name of Jesus we pray.
Happy New Year!