On the Saturday evening of the Bromham Baptist Church weekend, I spoke about being a forgiven community but also a forgiving community, and I used a brilliant quote that I came across by Rowan Williams - thanks to Jason Goroncy on Hopeful Imagination - 'one of the oddest things in our culture is that we seem to be tolerant of all sorts of behaviour, yet are deeply unforgiving. The popular media mercilessly display the failings of politicians and celebrities; attitudes to prisoners and ex-prisoners are often harsh; people demand legal redress for human errors and oversights. We shouldn't be misled by an easy-going atmosphere in manners and morals; under the surface there is a hardness that ought to worry us. And this means that when the Church in the Creed and (we hope) in its practice points us to the possibility of forgiveness, it is being pretty counter-cultural'. (Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief). Rowan Williams speaks about the 'scandal of forgiveness', which is apt.
My observation of church life is that while some people find it hard to receive forgiveness, in countless ways we find it harder to forgive and simply won't let go of things. But then there are those who have been sinned against unimaginably, who do let go, and the gospel is illumined powerfully. I'm looking forward to exploring Mozart's 'Marriage of Figaro' as a deep parable of forgiveness.
Communion on Sunday morning was profound as everyone stood in a huge circle and shared bread. One man, a new Christian whose experience of life has been tough, said 'This is the biggest gang I've belonged to.' And it was good to share this part of the weekend with the children and young people who played a full part.
To be away for the weekend and to return home only to go away again for National Settlement Team for three days wasn't great planning on my behalf, but from my perspective it was thoroughly worthwhile, especially to talk about the Church, which continues to be one of the passions in my life.