I have had the word reconciliation floating around in my thoughts for a while now. Life feels so disjointed as we come together following COVID’s rabid invasion of our world, our lives. What have we learned from it all? What have we learned about ourselves, each other? Have we learned anything?
This is what I see, tempers are raw. Our sense of how we relate to one another has shifted. We are less patient. We are forgetting to choose our words through the lens of truth, love and kindness. We are divided on many more levels than we were before. We have forgotten how to listen to one another with thoughtfulness.
The word reconciliation brings to my mind a sense of coming together again. The Latin word “reconciliatio” points to the ending of estrangement. Boy, haven’t we been estranged from one another! This estrangement has been exacerbated by our political climate and COVID, and we are at a place in our culture where we need to reach out to one another in reconciliation. How though does one do that?
Reconciliation requires a personal commitment. In our Presbyterian tradition, we set aside a time in our worship and prayer life for confession. When I first became Presbyterian, I didn’t like confession. I didn’t want to get down and dirty with my mistakes. Most of us don’t.
But over the years I have come to value confession. Confession is freeing. It helps to lift the weight of guilt and shame off ourselves so that we might be open to God and life anew.
What one must first understand about confession is that we are all created in God’s image. There are no exceptions. Next, we must accept that we all make mistakes, no one is perfect and that means you and me! We also must know that our sins, our mistakes are met with God’s grace every single time. In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul writes that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God. For me, sin and grace go hand in hand.
The process of reconciliation begins with each of us accepting and identifying where we falter in our lives. Does our pride try to control us and our relationships? Are we jealous of what others have? Are we never satisfied and always wanting more? Do we always want to be right? Do we let our anger burst forth in our relating to others? Do we think we own the truth?
Do we even care about our neighbors and their needs? Do our actions match our words?
For healing and reconciliation to enter our world, our families, our churches and our communities, we must be willing to look deep within ourselves. If you answered “yes” to one or more of the above questions, are you willing to offer it up in prayer to God? Are you then willing to welcome God’s loving grace which is there waiting for you without any judgment?
If we are to heal and restore our society, our families, we will need to commit to reconciliation. It is the only way. It starts at home within ourselves.
Pray for reconciliation. Commit to sharing God’s love and grace in all our interactions. Paul writes to the conflicted church in Corinth these words: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Friends, let us choose love.
Rev. Deb Patterson is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Delaware.