In a world where conflict is an ever present reality. Where political parties and community groups jostle for power over each other and disagree over the smallest of details I have a passion to live out the biblical principles of justice and reconciliation.
In 2 Corinthians 5: 17 – 19, St. Paul writes:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”
This is a ministry we are called into, commissioned for, and it can often be difficult to be involved in. This week’s blog comes with a caveat. If anyone who reads this wants to become more involved in reconciliation, or solve a conflict in their own lives, I recommend they go and receive the appropriate advice and training. It takes a skilled mediator to deal with difficult conflict and more damage can be done by diving into situations unprepared. That being said Christ calls us into this ministry and there are tools that we can use in our day-to-day lives to become more aware of how we respond to conflict.
Something I’ve read
So, this maybe a bit cheeky, but this is not something I read this week but something I looked at in the past however it is such a good book I want to recommend it here. John Paul Lederach, is a key figure in Christian reconciliation, and his book reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians is a brilliant starting point for anyone who is interested in the idea of reconciliation.
Early on in the book Lederach writes that when we think about reconciliation we often look for tools, processes and techniques, but in fact we should first attend to the question of presence. We should focus not on the tools but on the relationship. Looking at the life of Jesus we see a figure who was more concerned with relationship than the tools. It is through Jesus that we see God’s reconciling love made present. If we are to become true reconciler’s we should first turn and attend to our relationship with the perfect reconciler.
Something I’ve listened too
Early this week I listened to the Guild of Health’s 2020 Duncan Lecture led by Ruth Harvey. I first encountered Ruth through Reconciler’s Together as she headed up our training. Ruth is now leader of the Iona community and someone who everyone who has a passion for reconciliation should spend time with. The brief conversations we had while walking through the Cumbrian hills have stayed with me for a long time.
In her lecture Ruth was attentive to the intersection between healing and reconciliation. She acknowledge that the two fields have much to learn from each other and much to share. She encouraged those with a passion for reconciliation to be healers of communities. She did this through conversation, expertise and attending to her relationship with Jesus, our wounded healer. Once again it is a great lecture to watch for anyone who has an interest in healing and reconciliation.
An Interesting Idea
So, at last, I return to the title of this blog: The Circle Process. I am thankful to Steve Mansfield, vicar and lead for the mediation services for the Diocese of Chester, who led the training. The process, which is meant to be used to facilitate group discussion, is an easy one but it is one that needs to be practiced with care. It is a process which can enable the most difficult stories to be heard and I have experienced it in several different places now. What I appreciated most about this weeks training is the care Steve took to point us towards our mission as reconcilers, as people called by God into the mission of reconciliation. He also explained the circle process well and if the training is offered again I would recommend you go on it. It is the kind of process that works in many environments, not just places of reconciliation, but encourages more attentive listening and a safe space for people to speak. If you want to know more this is a good book to look at by Kay Paris.
As I close I offer this prayer for reconciliation that I came across this week:
God of Peace,
We praise you for people who dare to use their words and actions to model your way of peace.
We pray that others might be inspired to follow in their footsteps.