A couple of weeks ago I posted about the Baptist Times report of the murder of homeless Ralph Millward see https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/this-is-the-big-issue/#comments . Last week this post was made on my blog from a relative of one of the boys charged with Ralph’s murder.
“I’d like to say that i am disgusted by his actions. Many look for excuses everywhere when the young kill. I will not. I am shocked by the brutality of Ralph’s murder and i will never make excuses for him. He is not my child but his family need to look to themselves for his actions and not try to blame anything they can. There is no excuse for taking a life, particularly, a life that was so defenceless. My thoughts are with Ralph’s family and not with my young relative charged with his murder. I will never forget Ralph in my own prayers. His murderers deserve nothing. I know the details of how Ralph died and i will never forget them. The only consolation for Ralph is that his brutal death may make our country wake up to the plight of the homeless and help more. If no-one else will say it in my family, then i will. I am very very sorry for the actions my young relative took that night. No excuses. R.I.P. Ralph Millward.”
I think this is an incredibly brave and honest post and pray that the person will come to see that the murderes may in our terms deserve nothing, but more than anything they need to encounter the grace, love and forgiveness of the God of justice for the exluded and vulnerable. Love is stronger than hate.
I read yesterday that the Pope had apologised to native Canadians who were physically and sexuallyabused at church-run boarding schools they were forced to attend and it got me thinking. What if all denominations decided to hold a “we’re sorry” service once a year? This could provide an opportunity to formally and symbolically apologise to anyone who has been damaged in any way by the church; it may be even something that the church could take on the road. After all, we have an annual Back to Church Sunday event here in the UK where the focus is to invite folks back to something they have loved but just grown out of the habit of attending. What about the scores of people who don’t go to church because of some desperately bad experience they have had, and for which individual ministers or the church corporate has still not apologised? I realise that sorry is often not enough, but it is a start and probably the place Jesus would like to see us begin.
See full report at- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/5245526/Pope-apologises-to-native-Canadians-over-boarding-school-abuse.html
Tonight I am off to a murder mystery evening. I have never been to one before but I know that someone will be killed, yet at the end of the evening they will be back to take their bow- it is make believe, the death will not really happen and we will all be just acting out a story for a purpose. Today is Holy Saturday-Christ is dead in the tomb, the disciples are bereft, and the world is ignorant of hope. We sit here over 2,000 years later and we know how the story ends and, because we do, there is a real danger that we fail to forget the significance of the day in between – the time he was dead and all hope was dead, the mission was over. To the people and the disciples and to the religious leaders of the day Jesus had failed to bring in the new kingdom he talked about and was no different to any other holy man or prophet that had been before. As Nick Fawcett’s entry for Easter Eve in his book Daily Prayer says; ” Jesus was dead…He was laid limp and lifeless in a tomb, and a stone rolled against the entrance. Humanly speaking it was over, the end of a wonderful ministry and an unforgettable man. He had shared our life; he had shared our death. If the story was to continue, it was out of human hands- it was down to God.”
The mystery of what Christ achieved in death I will leave to the theologians, but Tarjei Park suggested in his reflection of the crucifixion; “He was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell. What was Jesus doing in hell? He was looking for his friend Judas Iscariot. Judas had done something so wrong he could not forgive himself, and feeling incapable of being forgiven, in bitter tears of regret, he hanged himself. Well, Jesus went looking for him, and in hell he found him. He walked over to him and kissed him, and took his hand. Miracles occur in hell.”
Inscribed on a cellar wall in Cologne where some Jews has hidden for the entire duration of the Second World War were these lines:
I believe in the sun, even when it doesn’t shine. I believe in love, even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God, even when He is silent.
On that first Easter eve ,God fell very silent and many wondered if they would ever here from him again. No word, no sign, no hope.