Flags, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation

Consumed as we are by the trivial—I’m looking at you, media-induced frenzy over whether men wearing tights should stand or kneel in pre-game activities—there are still possibilities for meaningful inspiration right here on planet earth. If only infrequently, humanity shows signs of depth, maturity, and genuine thoughtfulness.

Consider the prayer we shared at St. John’s on Sunday. It comes from Ravensbruck, a concentration camp constructed by the Nazis (true fascists, unlike Republicans or Democrats in our country). What set Ravensbruck apart was that it was constructed for women. These women often arrived with their children or, if pregnant, gave birth while they were there. Estimates suggest anywhere between forty and a hundred thousand women and children died in the camp. Many more were tortured, treated inhumanely, experimented on, and so forth. Corrie ten Boom was counted among the residents of this hell on earth.

In the aftermath of liberation this prayer was found, reportedly in the pocket of a child’s clothing:

O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

Regardless of source, this is inspiring stuff. And convicting. It conjures for us Jesus’ words in the midst of his own suffering, “Father forgive them; they know not what they do.”

If we are to move beyond this paralyzing polarization and discord, as a nation or in our own personal relationships, we might take our cues from these two prayers.

 

For further reflection: I appreciate Ed Stetzer’s comments on the topic of the day. You can find those here. I also appreciate those who have reminded us islands have been virtually destroyed in recent days by natural disaster, many in our own country are trying to recover from the aftermath of those storms, and we still have video of planned parenthood hocking babies’ body parts. The flag issue is an important one but we shouldn’t let it distract us from other pressing concerns.

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