St. John 17.vv.20-26

~ "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, 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. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." ~

In 1945 in the awful aftermath of World War 2, when nations and people were torn apart and old hatreds were re-emerging, the Germans in penitence and reparation built for the Taize Community an enormous Church in France, dedicated to "reconciliation". It still bears the name of the "Church of Reconciliation"; so great is the need of reconciliation in the world today.

Nearly 50 years later in the former Yugoslavia we see similar tragedy, pain and need, a people torn asunder. We see harrowing pictures of wrecked towns, economies and lives; personal relationships have been shattered by "ethnic cleansing"; former neighbours and friends are alienated; thousands of people have been made homeless and refugees; thousands more injured or bereaved. What a task for would-be reconcilers!

Nearer at home we see broken relationships, homelessness often resulting from rejection, families torn apart by divorce.

St. Paul says, "God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation. We come therefore as Christ's ambassadors". What a daunting task! If we are to be ambassadors, how shall we mediate and reconcile? Only by showing pardon and peace. But the problem is that we cannot mediate pardon and peace unless we know it in our own lives. There is nothing more tragic than trying to give what we have not got in the first place; this is a well known failure in unsuccessful counselling. How many of us have not gained pardon and peace! First of all we must be reconciled to ourselves. Many lives are filled with self-loathing, unquiet thoughts, guilty consciences and unresolved personal problems, so that we become poor ambassadors for this task. Unless we can gain pardon and peace for words that can't be unsaid, deeds that can't be undone, relationships that have not been mended, we cannot become Christ's ambassadors. What then are we to do?

Only by being put right with God can we gain pardon and peace. In his great letter to the Romans Paul tells us that we can be reconciled or put right with God by faith, by repentance and by accepting the proffered love of God. Here we find our pardon and peace with God and ourselves, and thus become mediators and ministers of reconciliation in the world.

The trouble is that so often we prefer to struggle on beneath a burden of sin that we could lay down at the foot of the cross of Christ. Consider John Bunyan's account in "Pilgrim's Progress" of how Christian was loosed from his burden of sin and gained pardon, peace and joy. "Now I saw in my dream that Christian toiled with difficulty up the hill by reason of the heavy burden that he carried on his back, but at the top of the hill there stood a cross. At the foot of this cross Christian knelt, whereupon the burden was loosed from his back and rolled back down the hill and fell into an empty tomb and he saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and lightsome and said with a merry heart, 'He hath given me rest by His sorrow, and life by his death'."

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