Summary: A sermon for a Seeker Service that looks at national hurts, grudges and suspicions and moves on to the need for personal forgiveness (to us and from us)

War?- what about forgiveness?! WBC Seeker Service 10/11/02 am

Talk 1- National forgiveness

It seems we ALL have racial, national prejudices

- we¡¦re programmed. By things people say. What we pick up. Events

- Nelson Mandela, in his book "Long Walk to freedom¡¨: ¡§No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. people must learn to hate¡¨

- can¡¦t see our conditioning, programming¡K the issue- because we see WITH the issue. Through it

I guess most of us carry grudges, as well

- with v good cause sometimes

o horrific things done to them. Most of us can¡¦t begin to imagine

o (last world wars. Event trauma of Falklands, 20 yrs on)

- with V little cause, sometimes

o Illustr: me and certain nation (Irish) because of Sarah!

I realise some of us have v little to deal with¡K forgive

- but ¡¥each context seems big enough in itself¡¦

Illustr: Archie. Anger¡K. but could have been a child¡K my child¡K

- imagine the bitterness, hatred!

- I have nothing to forgive, really!

- not like those with war, rape, murder, consistent mistreating

Some of our prejudices are: national, social. Some are personal

- or is personal to start with and then we tar the whole nation with that brush

- but really looking at National prejudices caused by war etc, here

Three little things the Bible ( and wisdom¡K common sense) gives insight into:

1. Adam. The story of Adam

= SO full of insight. Tells us:

- we ALL share a common ancestry (science supports this)

o Acts 17:26 ¡§From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth¡¨

- We¡¦re ALL, basically, the same

o ¡§if you cut me, do I not bleed, like you?¡¨

o ¡§I hope the Russians love their children too¡¨

„X Sting, cold war song

- We¡¦re ALL incredible beings. valued. Made in the image of God. Creative. Potential for good

- We¡¦re all fallen beings, too. Flawed. Basically because we each choose OUR way rather than God¡¦s

o ie ¡¥human¡¦: ¡§we¡¦re only human after all¡¨ (level 42, something about you

o potential for incredible evil

This line for good and evil running through EACH one of us.

- "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor classes, nor between political parties... but right through every human heart and through all human hearts" Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Circumstances, events social conditioning, pier influence, history, ¡¥being flesh¡¦ impinge on us ALL to affect how we behave

ie It COULD have been ME. YOU.

- I know we THINK we wouldn¡¦t- but people adapt so quickly to their changed environment

o The Postman, Lord of the flies. Football team stranded in mountains (¡§Alive¡¨- Heroism and horror)

Self knowledge/enlightenment is key to everything. Maturity even. Seeing ourselves as we truly are helps us understand others

2. The story of Jonah

The Jews, if anyone , had¡K HAVE¡K reason for national bitterness

- nit just from the Holocaust, but from HISTORY. Nothing new!

Babylon was the major threat in 6C BC (modern day Iraq!)

- capital of Babylon was Nineveh.

- God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them of His love, anger and mercy

- they repent! Change. Jonah gets the hump!

- 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

- I care about them, too¡K about ALL the same. Those people you HATE

The third thing is

3. ¡§Blessed are the peacemakers¡¨

We¡¦ve had the stories of getting rid of Xenophobia. Now Jesus spells it out as a command¡K or an incentive, really.

- they will be blessed and called sons of God. It¡¦s what God wants

Nelson Mandela, in his book "Long Walk to freedom"

I never lost hope that this great transformation would occur. Not only not only because of the great heroes I have already cited, but because of the courage of ordinary men and women of my country. I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there was mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. people must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I could see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.

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