It has been a glorious day. Dry, calm, quiet; just right for a good walk.
So, the Rectory has been closed and Mary and I have been walking. A change of scenery, a good pub lunch, catch up with old friends; just the recipe for unwinding in the middle of a busy period.
We walked around the edge of Wicken Fen, part-way between Cambridge and Ely. Like most of the East Anglian Fenlands, much of the area had been drained to create farmland. There is a long-term (100 year) plan to develop and enlarge the surviving fen to produce a rich oasis for wildlife, and a green lung for people. It is a program of restoration which, taking its cue from the past, looks forward to an exciting and sustainable future. The program will be hard work and no doubt there will be setbacks on the way, but if the current Fen is anything to go by it will be worth the effort.
Restoration, rebuilding for the future, is God’s business; a business he calls us to share in. When Peter asked Jesus ‘How often should I forgive my brother?” (18:21,22), he no doubt thought he was being generous when he added ‘As much as seven times?’ He and his fellow disciples must have been taken aback when Jesus said “try seventy times seven”. Jesus then backed up his point by a parable about two men. He contrasted the action of the king who mercifully forgave an official an enormous debt, with the action of the forgiven official who went on to demand full satisfaction of a minor debt that he was owed. The unforgiving attitude of the second man rebounded to his cost (Matt 18: 23-35).
Forgiveness is an essential part of restoring broken relationships; essential if a community is to flourish. In telling Peter to forgive seventy times seven, and in the parable that follows, Jesus takes Peter, and us, to another level. Jesus came to restore the broken relationship between us and God, and harmony with God requires harmony with our neighbours. Like the restoration of our relationship with the land, healing relationships with our neighbours takes time, vision, and a willingness to learn from mistakes. As Jesus also said ‘Father forgive us, even as we forgive others’. (The Lord’s Prayer).
Rev. Philip Payne
The Pew Sheet is available in the Download section of the website.