The human soul cries out for reconciliation. This God-given cry starts within and reverberates around all of creation. We constantly pray that warring factions within Iraq, Israel/Palestine and Afghanistan may find some form of reconciliation so that the people of those troubled areas may live and move forward in climates of peace and justice: Northern Ireland has shown that this is possible and that light can come out of darkness. Violence within our cities and disputes within our communities are reminders that reconciliation is often required closer to home. The Anglican Communion, buffeted with disputes about power, belonging and identity, is at the same time trying to find a way forward that will reconcile those in dispute. Reconciliation is often needed within and between churches. Again power, belonging and identity, frequently masquerading as theology, figure highly in church disputes, whether that be at local, regional or national level.
Reconciliation may be sought if friends fall out among themselves. There will be times when reconciliation will need to be negotiated within the family. Sometimes a wise family member can mediate a family dispute, but it is not uncommon for mediation to be sought outside the family circle. Probably the most difficult area for the work of reconciliation is inside ourselves as there are times in the life of every human being when there is a war within.
In recent years it has become apparent that if the earth itself is to survive, there needs to be an ecological reconciliation in which there is a balance between the forces of consumption, regeneration and conservation.
Finally, reconciliation flows throughout all scripture finding its finest expression in the thinking and theology of St. Paul. The apostle reminds his readers that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of reconciliation between God and humanity and the cross is the focus of that reconciliation. For Christians, therefore, reconciliation enables a deepening of their relationship with God. This brings us back to the fact that the human soul cries out for reconciliation. The search for reconciliation is at the heart of faith and fundamental to humanity.
Areas needing reconciliation
I have identified six areas of reconciliation:
- Political: between and within nations.
- Social: between and within communities.
- Personal: between persons and within families .
- Intra- personal: within a person.
- Ecological: between the energies that sustain and exhaust the earth.
- Theological: between God and humanity.
What will become apparent in exploring the issue of reconciliation is that all six of these areas are inextricably linked. If we are living in dispute with our neighbours, it will have something to do with dissonance within ourselves. If we are in dispute politically, it will be related to the way we conduct our lives as Christians. If we are in dispute as Christians it will be because we are not reconciled to God. Furthermore, the sixth area, reconciliation between God and humanity, is fundamental to all the others. It is the God-given cry which starts within and reverberates around all creation.