Summary: Now is our opportunity to be reconciled to God, and we need to take it.

Dead Poets Society is, I think, one of the best films of all time. In his first lesson with

his senior class, the rather eccentric but very inspiring English teacher John Keating,

played by Robin Williams, takes the boys into the foyer outside the classroom where

he asks one lad by the name of Pitts (a rather unfortunate name, Keating muses) to

read out a poem. In an uncertain voice, Pitts reads,

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

Old time is still a-flying

And this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow will be dying."

’Carpe deum’, Keating says to them, ’Seize the day’. Every single one of us is just

food for worms. You may be destined for great things, but you need to take the

opportunity now. Then he leads his class up to the cabinet on the side of the foyer,

filed with old, black and white photos of old boys . What do all these boys, your

illustrious predecessors, have in common?, asks Keating. They’re all fertilising

daffodils. They’re all dead. They were boys with high expectations, high ideals, just

like you. They felt they were invincible, thought that the world was their oyster, just

like you. But did they manage to fulfil even a tiny bit of their potential? Keating

gathers his charges close around the cabinet, telling them to listen to the legacy the

old boys have for them. He whispers from behind them, imitating the ghosts of the

past. "Carpe deum. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."

This teacher, while he might have been inspiring, while he might have been

funny, had all his priorities out of order. He thought that success in this life was the

most important thing to pursue. He thought that everything ended when we all

became "food for worms", when we all began a new job as daffodil fertilisers. Yet,

despite his problems, one part of John Keating’s message echoes the thoughts of Paul

in 2 Corinthians 6. Seize the day, says Keating, make your lives extraordinary. Seize

the day, says Paul, be reconciled to God.

The idea of reconciliation gets a lot of airtime nowadays. Most obviously we

think of the reconciliation between the broader Australian community and it’s

indigenous population. Simply put reconciliation means the bringing back into

friendly relations, repairing a relationship. When we think of reconciliation in it’s

current contexts, we think of something that requires compromise, requires

forgiveness from both sides, requires acceptance of responsibility, requires apologies.

That’s what the current debate on Aboriginal reconciliation hits snares - because

people aren’t prepared to accept responsibility, even collectively, they’re not prepared

to say sorry. And this is made out as a condition for forgiveness. We won’t forgive

you, unless you demonstrate to us that you are genuinely sorry.

But that’s not the way reconciliation with God works. Notice Paul’s appeal in

vs 20 - "Be reconciled to God." He doesn’t say, reconcile yourself to God. He doesn’t

say, you and God better make up and be friends again. He simply says "Be reconciled

to God. And the reason he can say this is because he’s already explained how God has

brought this reconciliation about. It’s all from God as vs. 18 points out. He does the

reconciling. It’s not as if he steps back and first demands an apology before the

process can go any further.

You could think about it like this: The reconciliation from God is not so

much like today’s Aboriginal reconciliation debate. It’s more like the story of an

Aboriginal man the white men named Bill. He was alive at the end of the nineteenth

century. He lived a traditional life on the land somewhere around where modern-day

Taree is. The only difference was, his tribe had been contacted by two catholic

missionaries who told them the Gospel, and they accepted it. Bill learnt English, and

while he still lived his traditional life, he had some contact with white civilisation.

Two pastoralists tended some of the land near where Bill’s tribe hunted and spent

most of their time. They decided, and we don’t know if it’s true or not, that Bill’s

people had stolen three sheep from their properties. Feeling quite justified about

what they were about to do, they took their shotguns and killed ten members of Bill’s

tribe during the night, including two of his sons. When the local authorities got wind

of the massacre, the press ran a story about it. The pastoralists had been arrested, and

the paper quoted them as saying, something like, "There’s nothing wrong with it.

They were only niggers." The journalist went out to see the remainder of Bill’s tribe,

no doubt expecting to be able to write that they weren’t really people at all - they

couldn’t speak properly, they lived like savages. When he got there, Bill spoke to

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