We welcome all people to our church, wherever you are on your journey of faith. We encourage reflection, question and discussion to help us explore and deepen our Christian faith. We strive to reach the needs of our congregation, the local community and beyond.

Lent Course: Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Our Lent Course for this year, 2018, will be a forum for discussing forgiveness and reconciliation – between individuals, in communities of various kinds, including churches, and whole societies or nations.

The course will run on Thursdays at 7:30pm from 15th Feb to 22nd March inclusive, usually in the Vestry Hall (except for 1st March, when we shall be in church). We’ll serve soup, bread and cheese or simple suppers to go with our talks. Please sign up if possible so that we have some idea of numbers. Everyone is welcome, even if you cannot make all the sessions. There will be handouts and displays for each theme, and DVD clips for some items, but no whole book to read in advance.

We will be looking at how we as Christians can deal with the aftermath of serious conflict or damage in our lives and those around us. This is a tough topic, yet the recent work done in many places to heal communities and discover more about how individuals can be resilient may lead us to hope, faith and love. We shall be hearing about the Northern Irish Troubles, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the experiences of people who have lost family to terrorism or murder, or who have lived through serious assault or betrayal themselves. These examples may help us in our walk with others, to plan for a future of peace and mercy.

Because this can be a personally hard-hitting subject, please be assured that no-one will be called upon to speak or share experiences at any time unless they wish to. We are aware that some of us will be people who have experienced trauma ourselves or come from backgrounds where historical trauma is part of their story. Anyone who is left feeling stirred up by the content is very welcome to come and talk to the clergy afterwards.

Week 0: 15th February. Where to start?

We introduce the course with an overview of some different views on forgiveness, with some ways of classifying how deep an injury might be, and questioning if all forgiveness is broadly similar or if there may be significant differences. Some well known stories in the news now and in recent years will help us to focus on where deep hurt and hence maybe the chance of forgiveness happen.

Week 1 22nd February. “I am your brother.”

Our extended example for this week is the Joseph Cycle in Genesis chapters 37-50. Hated by his brothers and thrown down a well, Joseph somehow rose through slavery and imprisonment to become prime minister of Egypt. When his brothers came to him years later begging for food, how would he react?

Week 2 1st March. “As we forgive those who trespass against us.”

We move on to the New Testament, with our main theme the Lord’s Prayer: how Jesus taught his disciples and us to pray and to live, why we might need to remember daily our difficulties letting go of pain from our pasts and grudges against others, why we might struggle to believe ourselves forgiven. Does forgiveness by God or by other people differ?

Week 3 8th March; Week 4 15th March; Week 5 22nd March

Now we have looked at some biblical sources: forgiveness in the Joseph Cycle, the Lord’s Prayer, New Testament pastoral letters; we move on to modern day dilemmas of forgiveness. We then consider reconciliation on various levels and how it differs from justice or arbitration.