So if anyone is in Christ there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18
Using the language from this letter from Paul to the Christians in Corinth, the Prayer Book describes the good news of Christ’s work in the world as “establishing the new covenant of reconciliation” between God and humankind. It’s also one of the four qualities that the catechism lists to describe our ministries as laypersons. We are, “according to the gifts given us, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world.” And it is the word used to describe the goal of penitence, the process of confessing our sins and receiving the assurance of our forgiveness. The word reconciliation assumes three things:
That which belongs together
Which is broken
And needs to be repaired and renewed
For Jesus, as for St. Paul, reconciliation is about broken groups—families, congregations, nations—which belong together in deep and genuine community, yet which are set against one another in enmity and pain and sometimes violence. We’ve each watched in sorrow when families fall apart, parishes split into factions or nations drift angrily into civil war or armed conflict. The reconciliation of communities, difficult or indeed impossible as it may seem, is part of Christ’s work of reconciliation and a part of our ministry as God’s people. This is why the Prayer Book so intimately links (1) What we pray about reconciliation and atonement (2) With what we pray and do about repentance and forgiveness.
The first step in receiving as our own this gift that God has made to us in Christ is the step of repentance, which the Prayer Book calls the “rite of reconciliation.” Until we confess that we have wanted and tried to be something other than what God made us to be, then we cannot begin living into the reality that God has waiting for God’s people. To be “at-one-d” or reconciled is to be forgiven for having done those things that break apart our community with God and one another.
This upcoming Wednesday evening @ 6:30, Deacon Andy Atkinson will begin leading us in a conversation about racism, using the book White Fragility as our own individual and communal first step in examining both our individual and national sin, racism. It is my hope that this is merely the first step that leads us to the next step and the life-long process of unearthing, examining and reconciliation towards “at-one-d” with every person, creation and nation. NLJ+