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Posts Tagged "Reconciliation":

Archbishop Justin in Guatemala – first report by Leonardo Ricardo

Aug 12, 2013

PART TWO — GUATEMALA – JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: ¨Scripture, Reason and Tradition or we will destroy the Church¨

¨We work with what we have at hand¨  
The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury said the following things yesterday at the Cathedral of Santiago in Guatemala City, Central America  (at least this is what I understood him to say during his sermon which was given in English and perfectly translated into Spanish – Leonardo/Len):

*  We must physically take action to love our enemies.  We must reach out to our enemies and interact with them.  We must ¨buy their bread¨ which will start a relationship so we can talk to one another to build a normal/everyday-like relationship.  (He used an example of two different groups in Africa who had been murdering each other for years and the priests were biter and tired full of anger/hate).  We must open the doors of resentments (justified resentments or not) and let them fade away.  We must offer kindness and love even in the face of desperation and terror….

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Peace And Reconciliation: Sebastian Faulks


I offer you today for reflective Saturday reading this extract from Birdsong. I do so partly because it was chosen by Mary Batchelor for inclusion in The Lion Literature Collection: On the Human and Divine and partly in the context of Archbishop Justin Welby’s stated priorities. This is how Mary Batchelor introduces this extract:

In the First World War, Allied and German soldiers dug tunnels into no-man’s-land, to provide listening posts near enemy lines. The war was all but over when Captain Stephen Wraysford was sent underground to check for enemy activity. In explosions that followed, both Stephen’s companions and German soldiers were killed. One of the German soldiers was Joseph, and his brother Levi, along with Lamm, worked urgently to release the trapped men. Levi knew he would find alive either his beloved brother Joseph – or the enemy who killed him.

“It was Levi’s work, not Lamm’s that had loosened the earth sufficiently at the end of Stephen’s coffin for him to be able to crawl out of it…

On hands and knees he moved back among the debris his own explosion had made. About a yard further along he could see where the tunnel was still intact. It was here that Lamm had broken through. Levi pushed Lamm back and climbed into the British tunnel himself. Tricked by the echo of Stephen’s tapping, he turned the wrong way, and began to walk away from him.

Gurgling and spitting earth from his mouth, Stephen clawed his way forward, shouting as he went. He could see light from some lantern swaying in the tunnel ahead of him. There was air. He could breathe.

Levi heard him. He turned and walked back.

As the tunnel roof lifted, Stephen moved up into a crouch and called out again. The lantern was on him.

He looked up and saw the legs of his rescuer. They were clothed in the German feldgrau, the colour of his darkest dream.

He staggered to his feet and his hand went to pull out his revolver, but there was nothing there, only the torn, drenched rags of his trousers.

He looked into the face of the man who stood in front of him and his fists went up from his sides like those of a farm boy about to fight.

At some deep level, far below anything his exhausted mind could reach, the conflicts of his soul dragged through him like waves grating on the packed shingle of a beach. The sound of his life calling to him on a distant road,; the faces of the men who had been slaughtered…his scalding hatred of the enemy, of Max and all the men who had brought him to this moment; the flesh and love of Isabelle, and the eyes of her sister.

Far beyond thought, the resolution came to him and he found his arms, still raised, begin to spread and open.

Levi looked at this wild-eyed figure, half-demented, his brother’s killer. For no reason he could tell, he found that he had opened his own arms in turn, and the two men fell upon each other’s shoulders, weeping at the bitter strangeness of their human lives. ”

Sebastian Faulks (1953-)

Birdsong, 1993

A Day at the Acorn Christian Healing Foundation

Whitehill Chase, which describes itself as ‘a safe place for healing’, is home to a resource centre and meeting place near Alton in Hampshire which runs courses on ‘listening, healing and reconciliation’. Its chaplain is the Revd Christine Knifton, whose original background was in medicine. After ordination, she spent four years as a chaplain in the National Health Service and then came to the centre in 2005.

Although one can see the overlap between listening, healing and reconciliation (in order to reconcile one obviously needs to listen and heal), they are three separate strands in the foundation’s work and many people come here following one particular strand.

It is difficult to write this, because I do not want to embarrass either you or me by being too personal. Let me just explain a little of how I came to spend the day here. There is a small prayer group which crosses two benefices in different deaneries  in order to pray for the needs of those in our valley, a more primeval form of community than the modern divisions of the Church of England, as well as the wider needs of the Church and the world. I was invited to join the group a year or so ago and was told that it was the group’s custom to make an annual visit to Whitehill. The appointed day duly arrived, and with little idea of what was in store, I joined my fellow pray-ers (not sure that we quite see ourselves as warriors).
The first thing about the day is that it was very unstructured. I thought perhaps there would be lectures, but instead we were greeted with some excellent strong coffee, and left to explore the grounds, sit around and chat or visit the bookshop. The only fixed point of the day was the service in the chapel (see illustration).  There was space, the luxury of allowing for serendipity, as a secular world would say, or the operation of the Holy Spirit, as others might describe it. Time and space were allowed for something – or nothing – to happen. Most days here are more packed with content than this, as a glance at their busy programme shows. But I really appreciated this flexibility.

Again, I have to be personal and say that the service itself was something  of a shock to the system. In my youth, I  -like many others- explored Hindu mysticism, Ouspensky and Sufism (well, it was the 1960s). But I never explored other Christian denominations or, indeed, any other way of being Anglican other than the middle-of-the-candle churchmanship of my upbringing. This was the first eucharist I had ever attended led by a Charismatic Evangelical (the Revd Christine Knifton). I found the service disturbing. (That is not necessarily a criticism, of course – I am sure Saul would have described his experience on the road to Tarsus as profoundly disturbing). I am still trying to work out several days later what I found difficult about it and why I am unable simply to dismiss it as just ‘another way of doing God’. One of the aspects which I do need to absorb is how different not just the practices, but the ramifications of the faith, are from my own, and yet we are all members of the Church of England.  The most striking example of this was the wording: ‘the body of Christ, broken just for you‘ (in my tradition, Christ died for us all, not individually).

This is what the foundation says about itself:

Invitation to Healing

This is an invitation to go on a journey into wholeness with God. Approximately 5000 people a year come to the safe surroundings of Whitehill Chase, the HQ of the Acorn Christian Healing Foundation to find the healing that they have been searching for. We have seen lives changed and healed and set free as a result.

Healing is an invitation to go on a journey into wholeness with God. People from all walks of life have come to the safe surroundings of Acorn Christian Healing Foundation to find the healing that they have been searching for.

Safe Place

We offer a safe place to just be and we have seen lives change as a result of participation in our services, retreats, training and quiet days.

Trained Ministry Team

We have a trained Ministry Team from all denominations who are there to listen to you and to pray with you if that’s something you would like.

Acorn is a safe place to be. All of the team are CRB-checked and have a wide experience within the healing ministry. We’re very proud of our team and the valuable contribution they make to our Healing Ministry.

If you would like to request specific prayer ministry, please contact us to make an appointment.

Providing Spiritual Care

Our Chaplaincy Project mission is about supporting the NHS mandate to provide spiritual care. We are already working with organisations like Whole Care and Christian hospitals such as Burrswood to establish chaplaincy within professional health care.

We provide the tools for chaplaincy through development and active listening training, given by our 1000+ Tutors and Listeners throughout the UK.

We have demonstrated that listening support helps people recover faster and better from their trauma. Now we want the whole of the NHS to benefit from this care resource.


I am particularly struck by the expression ‘safe’ in this connection. Though I imagine it is meant in the context of CRB checks etc, as I was brought up on the works of C S Lewis, I cannot resist quoting from ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’:

Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”


You can find out more from the website

‘Project Forgive’: Now It’s Personal

There have been several ‘macro-projects’ in recent years to allow the perpetrator and the victim the chance to meet, offer and accept repentance, offer and accept forgiveness and to heal. At a national level, probably the best known is South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. At a local level, arrangements are often made for the criminal and victim to meet under a system of restorative justice, first tried in the US   in the 1970s.

But now it’s personal. A friend of mine from Empire Avenue, Shawne Duperon, had two friends. In one of those appalling twists of fate, there was a car crash involving the two in which one killed the wife and two children of the other. In that situation, what can a true friend possibly say or do? Well, Shawne is an Emmy award-winning television producer, so she decided to make a film about forgiveness, so touched was she by the degree of forgiveness shown by the victim to the perpetrator.

This is of course not the film. This is to whet your appetite and perhaps solicit your help in order for the film to be made. Project Forgive is seeking funding for the film through Kickstarter, and has until 8:33 a.m., Monday, April 23, 2012, to raise $100,000. Maybe you can help them raise the last few dollars? As I write, they need a further thirteen thousand dollars by Monday. But, irrespective of that, I urge you to visit the Project Forgive site and explore this heart-warming idea, which has every chance of being put into practice.

Finally, this is an example of the redemptive power of social media. People may join Empire Avenue, Twitter and Facebook out of what they perceive to be pure self-interest, and to market their widgets. But, although a tiny minority stick resolutely to this egocentric attitude, the vast majority learn to share their toys, look out for each other, and say please and thank-you in a way they should have known how to do since going into a school playground. But somehow, getting and spending, it is all too easy to forget how good it feels to work together on a common goal,  help someone up when they stumble, share a joke, and in short think of the world outside oneself as the focus, think altruistically.

Here Facebook, Empire Avenue, Twitter and You Tube (or rather their users) have set up a virtuous circle  in which people are sharing their ideas, energy, enthusiasm and prayers. And of course their money as well (the Good Samaritan wouldn’t have been able to do much without his two coins). My heart lifts to be the most minor of cogs in this wonderful network.

Shawne, Kimberly, Teresa and all the team, I salute you!

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