Monday, November 05, 2012


The goal of remembering is reconciliation.

Remember: to bring to mind in the present that which took place in the past.

Re-member: to stitch back together that which has been torn apart; to unite what has been separated.

The goal of remembering is reconciliation, because by and with and in Christ, God is at work to make all things new, to restore all that has been lost, to reconcile all that has been estranged, to bring harmony out of discord.

This takes time.

This takes time, because it requires of us that we remember rightly, in order to re-member rightly. It requires of us that we recognise ourselves and our enemies honestly. That we refuse to deal in generalisation or stereotype or misrepresentation, neither painting ourselves as innocent nor our enemy as without cause. That we recognise where we have fallen short of loving our neighbour, and where we have trespassed onto and claimed for ourselves that which God has given to them; that we ask God – and where possible, our enemy – for forgiveness; that we seek forgiveness for where we have accused our enemy falsely, in our propaganda. That we identify where our enemy has trespassed against us – and that we choose to forgive them, and choose to forgive them, and choose to forgive them, for as long as it takes for receiving and extending forgiveness to do its work in our lives. When forgiveness’ work is done, we are left with the scars that tell the story from which we have been redeemed, but we discover that the wound is healed.

That in my generation, British and German and Japanese can be friends.

That in my grandchildren’s generation, post-Christian Westerners and Eastern Muslims might be friends.

That the descendents of abusers and the descendents of the abused, living in a culture that has turned a blind eye to abuse and then turned-about into a witch hunt, might bear one another no animosity.

All this requires of us that we put to death false memories, the pseudo-memory folklore that stokes the fires of resentment.

This is why this short Season of remembrance – which, in the northern hemisphere coincides with the evenings drawing in – 

All Saints (November 1), where those of every tribe and tongue may be re-membered; and

All Souls (November 2), where those of different generations may be re-membered; and

Bonfire Night (November 5), where (here in the UK) those of different religious belief may be re-membered; and

Armistice Day (November 11), where those of different nationalities may be re-membered – 

is so important, is such a precious gift.

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