Wednesday, December 02, 2015

AdventWord Day 4: Forgive

"Forgive" is a word we use rather alot at Coventry. 
In fact, I can guarantee that it is used at least 7 times every single day, as it appears in the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, the prayer that we offer daily at noon, the touchstone that brings us back again and again to the reconciliation ministry that is the heartbeat of our Cathedral's life and purpose.
This prayer, and the ministry that evolved from it, had its roots 75 years ago, on "the morning after" the Coventry Blitz, when much of the city, including the medieval Cathedral of St Michael's, was destroyed....As he walked in the ruins of his Cathedral, Provost Dick Howard resolved both to rebuild and to go forward along paths of compassion and reconciliation. He had the words "Father Forgive" written on the wall of the burned-out Sanctuary...words which caused outrage and revulsion in the wake of the city's destruction. What many in the city, s wanted to hear, as they struggled with their heavy loss,  was "Father forgive THEM" receive fresh justification to demonise "the enemy", to stoke up the fires of hatred and vengeance til an eye for an eye made the whole world blind indeed.
Instead, Provost Howard's words forced those who saw them to ponder the missing object of the sentence, and to recognise, however reluctantly, that we are all equally culpable for the world's ills, all equally in need of forgiveness. The Litany which grew from that day is based around the "seven deadly sins", and challenges us all to recognise our destructive patterns of behaviour, and, seeing them, to repent of them. It is, I think, Coventry's great gift to the world.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, Father, forgive. 
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own, Father, forgive. 
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth, Father, forgive. 
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others, 
Father, forgive. 
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee, Father, forgive. 
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children, 
Father, forgive. 
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God, 
Father, forgive. 

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.


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