St Barnabas Church, Joydens Wood

Vicar’s Letter December 2017

Someone has to make the first move!
It takes courage, when there has been a disagreement, a falling out, an estrangement, for one person to begin the process of putting things right again.

All too often to say the word ‘sorry’ is seen as a sign of weakness or an admission of guilt. But expressing our sadness at the broken relationship is not the same as saying “I was wrong and I take all the blame!” To say sorry is simply a first step towards bringing reconciliation.

My mum used to say, when my brother and I had an argument (a frequent occurrence when we were children!)
‘Well it’s probably six of one, half-dozen of the other!’ and what she meant by that was there was nothing to choose between us – both equally right, and both equally WRONG!

And that is probably true with many arguments. Things escalate, harsh words are spoken, positions become entrenched and before we know it, someone has walked out and slammed the door behind them (literally or metaphorically!) This happens in personal life, but also happens in our society, in politics, in religion.

In November I went to London for a day conference on the subject of Reconciliation. This was held at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, just a short distance from the Grenfell Tower. One of the speakers was Bishop Brian Castle, who used to be the Bishop of Tonbridge, and is remembered by many in this Diocese with great affection. He is now retired from full-time Diocesan ministry, but continues to write, and to speak. He has worked in the field of Reconciliation for many years, and has published a number of books. The Bishop shared some of his wide experience with us, and reminded us that much of the work of reconciliation is to do with being willing to really hear the voice of the ones with whom we have a ‘broken’ relationship. When we begin to understand another person’s experiences and their perceptions of the situation, we can begin to move forward into a better future.

Such Reconciliation is at the very heart of the Christian faith.

At Christmas time we remember the actions of the God who ‘made the first move’. Through the birth of a baby, God reached out in love to a broken world, and in his own body, began the work of reconciling the world to himself. He chose to live a life within the limitations of our ‘human-ness’.

In the Second Letter to the Corinthians chapter 5 verse 19 we read: -
19 ...God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

God-in-Christ offers us a healed relationship with himself, and through that reconciliation, entrusts us to continue his healing work, doing what we can to heal broken relationships. So perhaps this is the time for you to ‘make the first move’ and reach out to someone in your family or friendship group?

This Christmas, when, as I hope you do, you join us for our Christmas Carols by Candlelight Service, please do raise your voice to sing one of everybody’s favourite carols...
Hark the herald-angels sing
Glory to the new-born King,
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners RECONCILED.

God bless
Reverend Ren Harding
contact me at The Vicarage, 6 Tile Kiln Lane

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