Dear Family of God!
On Sunday we sang a new hymn:
Forgive our sins as we forgive,”
you taught us, Lord, to pray;
but you alone can grant us grace
to live the words we say.
It was written by Rosamond (now that’s a name that should come back!) Eleanor Herklots (1905-1987) in 1966 and printed in the parish magazine of St. Mary’s Church, Bromley, Kent. Apparently, the idea of the hymn had occurred to Rosamond when she was digging out weeds in her nephew’s garden. She reasoned that their deep roots, obstructing the growth of the flowers near them, resembled the bitterness and resentment that can become entrenched and hinder the Christian’s growth in grace.
According to Dr. Michael Hawn, professor of church music at Perkins School of Theology, Herklots’ language is potent in describing the blessings we miss when our “heart . . . broods on wrongs and will not let old bitterness depart” (stanza two).
‘Holding grudges’ was among the list of unhealthy conflict behaviours that we identified, as a congregation, last week, along with ‘gossiping’ and avoiding conflict all together (our two top responses), followed by weaponizing scripture (to suit our purposes), and skewing the truth (so we appear in the best light) and finally excluding the other person.
However, we know that as Christians (stanza three) the “trivial debts [that] are owed to us” are nothing compared to “our great debt to [Christ]!” And that Christ died for us to make us one family.
The final stanza is a prayer of petition “cleanse . . . our souls” and “bid resentment cease.” Forgiveness leads to establishing “bonds of love” so that “our lives will spread [Christ’s] peace.”
The behaviours that we listed that are healthy ways of dealing with conflict included: speaking openly and honestly to the other person (by far our top response), praying, listening, valuing the relationship/person above the dispute, forgiving (and continuing to work at reconciliation), recognising that we don’t know everything and recognising that people are different and ,finally, taking a time out (20 minutes) in a conversation that might be getting heated. These were all excellent contributions. Thank you, church!
Dawn comments that he was in South Africa in 1998 during the presidency of Nelson Mandela. Archbishop Desmond Tutu presented President Mandela with the bound volumes containing the results of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was sitting among a group of black and white Methodist ministers watching this historic occasion on television as Tutu referenced one of the many important revelations that took place during the process that the Commission hoped would lead to healing and hope for South Africa. ,
At one point, Tutu recalled a black woman who asked him, “Who murdered my husband?” Tutu responded, “We do not know.” She was insistent, however, and continued, “I must know who killed my husband.” Again, the patient Tutu responded, “I’m sorry, but we may never know who killed your husband.” Still her question persisted. Finally, Tutu asked, “My dear lady, why must you know who killed your husband?” She responded simply and quietly, “So I can forgive him.”
What incredible grace God gives us to live in and share with each other.
Grace and peace,