Waiting for Forgiveness
"Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw the stone." John 7. 53 - 8.11
Before we had 9/11 and President Kennedy's assassination, there was December 7, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. My parents always remembered where they were on "that day that has lived in infamy." As a result of that attack on Pearl Harbor, I grew up in a family that disparaged anything "oriental." All of the sinister nicknames were used to describe Asian people, and "they all looked alike" according to my father.
Yesterday a dear friend reminded me of the story of Coventry Cathedral and its rebuilding out of the ashes and rubble of the Coventry Blitz the Germans inflicted during WWII. I had forgotten that on the wall behind the preserved ruined chancel are the words "Father Forgive." On top of the altar were two charred roof beams that were found in the rubble that had fallen in the shape of a cross. They have now been replaced with a replica. I have never been to Coventry, but one day I hope to go to witness that extraordinary sight of forgiveness.
How does the human spirit forgive something as egregious as a bombing, an assassination, a 9/11 attack? How do we let go of the iniquities we feel have been wrought upon us? I would have to say that if the people of Coventry could forgive, we can all forgive...because Jesus forgave, we can all forgive.
Perhaps forgiving begins with the recognition that we too have sinned, that we too must ask for forgiveness. Maybe if I put my stone down, I can see the log in my own eye and not be so quick to condemn the speck in my neighbor's. Maybe if I put my stone down and write on the ground for awhile, I will forgive.
At Coventry, the words are not Father Forgive Them, but Father Forgive. Dear God, in this season of waiting and expectation, I pray that I might not only forgive but also be forgiven.
The preserved ruined chancel with the Altar of Reconciliation built from the cathedral’s bombed remains. The words ‘Father Forgive’ were inscribed in 1948. © Roger Davies