Meditation written by Cathy Tamsberg.
Read by Erin Newton.
During his ministry, Jesus makes reference to the fate of prophets. He is attacked by his neighbors when he announces at the beginning of his ministry that the prophet Isaiah’s words were fulfilled in him. At the end of his life, Jesus grieves that Jerusalem kills its prophets and he numbers himself among them. He also quotes the Hebrew prophets frequently during the course of his teaching. Our lectionary texts for today recall the importance of prophets as God’s messengers. (Psalm 105: 1-15, 42; 2 Chronicles 20:1-22)
Coventry Cathedral’s Provost Gordon Howard offered a prophetic word after the bombing of the cathedral in 1940. As the inscription behind the altar of the ruins reflects, the provost and the cathedral community understood the need for a reconciling response to the destruction inflicted by the German planes, so they prayed “Father, forgive.” Pardoning the 1940s male language for God, notice that Provost Howard did not say, “Father, forgive them.” In his mind, only Jesus could pray the prayer, “Father, forgive them.” The rest of us have much for which we need forgiveness ourselves even when others do us harm.
Part of the justification for our violent and costly response to Hitler was the death and destruction he spread across Europe, especially upon the Jews. Although the information about concentration camps wasn’t known in detail in 1940, many nations knew Hitler was up to no good in the late 1930s. Yet the U.S. stood by, understandably not wanting to get involved, until only a bloody war would stop him. And most historians agree that the way Germany was treated at the end of World War I set the stage for a demoralized German people to gravitate toward a leader who would help them reclaim their place in the world.
Provost Howard was wise in choosing a prayer that all of us can offer all the time. We are called to forgive those who hurt us as best we can. But forgiveness of others must surely include recognition that as imperfect humans, we are in need of forgiveness ourselves. Ponder today if forgiveness needs attention in your life during this season.
This meditation is from “Lent: Sowing Season, Holy Time,” a collection of daily readings by Associate Pastor Cathy Tamsberg. Each day during Lent, from Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, a new excerpt read by a member of the Pullen congregation will be made available. To hear each day’s reading as it is published, subscribe to Pullen’s RSS feed, or listen to the podcast in iTunes.