Reflections on Reconciliation (Part 1)

During the month of June, we are delighted that our mutual friend and fellow church member, Stan Bevan, will be sharing some thoughts on the challenging topic of reconciliation. We commend his reflections to you, and hope you find them helpful.

With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline

Dear Friends,

I had just finished reading the newspaper one day and realised there wasn’t a lot of ‘good news’ for that day!  The Government was destroying itself by arguing.  Worldwide there was fighting.  At home the streets seemed to be full of crime, the worst being young people killing each other in knife attacks.  How would it all end?

I started praying about it and strangely I recalled Sir Winston Churchill, although not a Christian, said in one of his famous speeches: – “It is better to ‘Jaw, Jaw’ than to ‘War, War’”

Talking can lead to a settlement of some sort, but war brings sadness and often a desire for revenge, which in its worst case ends up with further conflict, as Hitler did, leading to the second World War!

What is the answer to all this bitterness?

I was next reminded in my thinking of a sermon that really lead to a far better solution.

At my home Church in Portsmouth I sat with the young people in the gallery and became absorbed with a powerful sermon by our minister the Rev. T.J. Lewis.  His text was Genesis 33v4: – ‘And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him and they wept.’ (King James Version).  This was the concluding act in the story of Jacob and his brother Esau who had parted years before due to Jacob’s deceit in stealing Esau’s ‘birth right’ from their father, a sacred blessing from their aged and nearly blind father, meaning Jacob would receive wealth and position from their father which would normally have been Esau’s right.  (Read it for yourself from Genesis 27)

T.J.’s sermon was a passionate exposition on the word RECONCILATION.  As he delivered this sermon he paced up and down in our large pulpit and like many Welsh preachers wept along with his oratory.  To my surprise many of the congregation wept too.

The service concluded with communion, being the 3rd Sunday morning of the month.  As a youth group we were encouraged to observe.

T.J. wasn’t finished with his message, reading the familiar passage for communion in 1 Corinthians 11 he stressed v18 ‘…I hear that there are divisions among you, and I partly believe it!’  “Now,” said T.J., “is the time to put that right before God, before we partake of the elements.  So let us bow in prayer.”

A few seconds passed, then we heard footsteps from the gallery, down the stairs and along the aisle to the communion table.  A church member who was a senior science teacher in a local Secondary School (later to be called a Grammar School in the education reshuffle around that time) proceeded towards one of the deacons seated at the table and to our astonishment hugged him AND WEPT, as did the deacon, a well-known Junior School headmaster in the town!!  Now I saw my Dad (also a Welshman) was in tears, and many others.  Evidently these two men had had a violent argument at a Church Meeting and had not spoken to each other for years!  T.J. quietly said “This is Reconciliation; let us all now be reconciled with Jesus who died because of our sins.”  Many in that congregation fell on their knees and wept.

Many years later, on the evening of my baptism, I went to my middle brother, Alan, and said I was sorry I had hurt him so badly in an argument walking to our Gran’s for Sunday tea a couple of years previously.  “What are you talking about, you silly nipper.  Come here!!”  Yes, hugs and tears which sealed a loving relationship right up to his death, when I related the event at his funeral service.

What a different world it would be if all nations learnt the meaning of reconciliation – ‘FORGIVE and FORGET.’

God bless all who read this message – it can happen to you.

Stan Bevan

P.S.  In my next letter to you I’ll explain the significance of my reconciliation with my brother Alan.