Peace building

By Rev Fiona Bennett (From Seeds June 2021)

As I write this (mid-May) the news from Israel & Palestine is not good. A powder keg of tension has been ignited and violence is breaking out all over the land.

Years of frustration are being played out and people of all ages are dying. I wonder what the world would look like today if, back in the 1940s, we and other countries had welcomed – en masse – holocaust survivors with open arms and hearts?

I am reminded of a line in the Jesus’ Prayer we use each week “forgive us the hurts we absorb from one another”: the unchallenged legacies of fear and hurt we allow to continue to shape our thinking and acting; the legacy of protecting self-interest; the legacy of grief; the legacy of tyranny and oppression.

Unchallenged, they shape our perceptions and actions through which we continue to hurt others, ourselves, and the earth itself.

Changing our perceptions is at the heart of what Jesus and John called repentance – turning around. And repentance is often connected with forgiveness.

There has been a lot of energy throughout Christian history explaining how we can find forgiveness from God. I really do not think God has a problem with forgiveness, humans do.

And in forgiveness I do not mean the unhelpful idea of simply wiping out the past as if we cannot learn anything; forgiveness is the power to let go of the hold which past experiences and perceptions have on us without denying their reality, so we can make different choices in the present and future.

This is walking the way of peace which is a hard road for humanity everywhere but, as Jesus showed, which is the path of life for us all.