Reconciliation is a popular word, and as society and people become more and more fragmented and divided, it is needed more than ever. We seem to be focussing more and more on our individual identities and labels, and there seems to be a growing tendency of vicious attack on anyone who queries those identities and labels. But the reality is that for society to function well and in such a way that all can flourish, we all need to be able to live together in harmony – and that means compromise. My edges need to soften in order to create space for you – and vice versa. The difficulty is that in softening our respective edges, we need to ensure that the core of who we are is not damaged.
Observing people’s interactions and the news, and how polarised things seem to be, I wonder if our most pressing need is for reconciliation. To recognise that we are all, every one of us, made in the image of God and thus beloved and precious in God’s sight. And that this God who made us, and loves us, is also the God who gave himself to us in Jesus Christ in order to enable that reconciliation – between God and humanity, and between one another.
This Sunday’s lectionary includes a section from St Paul’s letter to the Colossians (1.17-20):
Christ himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Reconciliation between individuals and between nations may seem like an impossible dream. It’s true that with just humans managing it, it is impossible. But with God, all things are possible. Prayer does move mountains. And if we invite God into a situation, that situation can (and usually will) be transformed, if we let it.
God’s promise is not a partial reconciliation, a half way compromise that no one really believes in. It is total, complete, embracing all things in earth and in heaven. One day our differences – which now cause division, fear and even hatred – will be things to celebrate as showing the diversity and incredible beauty of God’s creation. I pray that as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, as members of the Church throughout the world, we can model this in our communities as we look forward to the day when it is true in all places and for all people.