Mildenhall Anglican Church

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written Six Rs of Reconciliation to reflect on we pray for peace, hope and reconciliation in our time. ( this is part of the Remembrance 100 readings ) Here are the first three.



Researching

...and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’. Matthew 1:23


Pursuing reconciliation requires research. Research is there to demythologise a conflict and say what the

 real problem is. Very often it’s a complicated problem that needs to deal with the hard questions of justice

 and inequality. That can only be done by being present with those who are suffering. We have to listen to

 what they are saying without judgement. We have to be in the middle, sharing their pain and anguish. We

 have to be caught up emotionally, to weep, protest and lament Because that is what Jesus Christ did with

 us. The reconciliation between God and human beings came through God sovereignly becoming human. He

 moved from God ‘out there’ to God ‘with us’.


Relating

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16


Reconciliation is not a mechanistic process; it’s relational. If you find yourself involved in reconciliation as a

 method, it won’t work. In John 3, we read that God sent Jesus because he loved the world, not because

 he’d worked it all out and thought it would be a good thing to do. Reconciliation is affective: our affections

 have to be involved. That means you build relationships with some pretty odd people. But, equally, you build

 relationships with the most amazing people. There is a sense of deep emotion. We have to love those in the

 conflict – the bad and the good – for that it he pattern of God to us.



Relief


Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace;

 keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way,

 faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:15-17

I remember walking around Nembe, in the Niger Delta, with a warlord who was deciding whether or not to

 keep me captive. I looked up and saw an oil company production facility about three miles away with

 enough electric power to supply most of that region, with helicopters coming in and out, fresh water, food

 and a doctor. Then I looked back at the warlord’s town where there was sewage running down the street

 and children playing in it. And I thought: ‘If I had grown up here, I would be like this man,’ because it was a

 mixture of horror and cruelty and inequality. What the people in that town needed most was water, electricity

 and hope. Relief is essential in the process of reconciliation. Jesus, when he came, brought hope, life and

 healing. And he did not leave us to work alone: he created the Church, so that through partnerships,

 systems and imagination, we might be able to offer relief and hope for the long-term, not just today.


Risk


In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider

equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a

servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:5-7

The risk of the incarnation was huge. If we take seriously the humanity of Christ, we take seriously his vulnerability: the

vulnerability of a baby, the vulnerability of a man on a cross. Jesus himself took the risk of crucifixion and we know from

Gethsemane the cost, pain and fear of that. There is an obvious risk in reconciliation: you can easily get caught up in fighting. But

that’s not the primary risk. The primary risk is failure. Reconciliation always involves bringing people together and when that goes 

wrong the outcome is often worse than before you tried. But behind that risk is the hope of something great – of restored

relationships and the flourishing of whole societies. After all, it is through the risk of the incarnation that we see the glory of the

resurrection.



Reconciling


My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one

Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John

17:20-21


Even with the best research, the strongest relationships and the most worthwhile risk-taking, there will still be deep resistance to 

genuine reconciliation. That’s because genuine reconciliation requires  a completely changed attitude to those who have been 

our enemies; a total transformation that is difficult for all of us. So why should we bother? Because in the Beatitudes, God

promises that peacemakers – those who bring the true peace of reconciled relationships and flourishing of life – will be blessed

. Peter tells Christians in what is now Turkey that when the Church is reconciled, it will be a witness to the world. As we journey

towards reconciliation, we can begin to handle diversity creatively and sincerely. We learn collectively to approach difference with 

curiosity and compassion, rather than fear. We begin to flourish together in previously unthinkable ways. Reconciliation

transforms alienation into a new creation, not only restored but reinvigorated. I think that one of the greatest challenges of our

time  is whether we have the courage to seek such a remaking of our world.


Resourcing


Carry each other’s burdens. Galatians 6:2


Outsiders can’t do reconciliation: it has to be people who are doing the fighting. They are the ones who can bring ongoing

transformation and the daily renewal of relationships. But outsiders can  resource others, strengthening them and building their

capacity. After the ascension, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to resource the Church. Reconciliation is never something done by one

hero. It is something done by whole groups of people working together, in the knowledge that God’s Spirit is with us as we seek to

support each other on the journey towards reconciliation.


Prayer

Let us remember those who have died for their country in war; those we knew, and all who have given their lives for freedom,

justice and the hope of peace. As we look forward and seek the way of peace and reconciliation, you might like to say this prayer:

Lord, strengthen our hearts, hands, and minds, to work together for peace; to see you in one another, and to seek your kingdom

above all things; that your will may be seen to be done, and your Kingdom come,

through Jesus Christ, Lord of Lord, King of Kings. Amen


Memorial for the fallen - from the Parish Magazine 1918
Four years of such war, as we are engaged in has told its heavy tale in every parish. With us we have over 75 brave fellows who have died at their posts of duty that we may attain our noble ends. Generations to come will never forget these events of the last four years, but, the remembrance of our brave and heroic dead who have died that the great causes that we are struggling for may come to the world, – their names in each place should be permently recorded by us. Over the spot where their bodies lie, for the most part, a simple cross marks the spot; that there should be something similar in parishes in England, the Wayside Cross Society has been set on foot to help with suggestions or design. In this Parish if 2s was given from every house we are on a good way towards a memorial. It seems strange that only four people of the Parish should have contributed as yet to such a ftting object.

World thanksgiving - Letter to the Daily Mail 1919
I should like to suggest that after the peace is declared the whole of the Allied countries should hold on the same day and at the same hour, as far as practical, in all places of worship, in all camps and ships , and everywhere that people congregate a great thanksgiving service to Almighty God for the blessings vouchsafed to our united efforts, and also at the same time a solemn memorial service for those who have laid down their lives in the great cause.
No doubt a form of service could be drawn up for use throughout all the world irrespective of creed.
I think if such a service could be arranged it would be the means of bringing together in closer unity the people who have strenuously fought against the powers of hell for the maintenance of righteousness and justice
A special constable







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