When I was in Cape Town a year ago one of the things that gave me the most impression was the dialogue sessions I attended on reconciliation. I had been interested in this area for quite some time previously because of personal experiences of brokenness and then having gone through my own journey of transformation– and seeing the same happen for others. Reconciliation between ethnic groups has long been a passion of mine. These dialogue sessions in Cape Town allowed me to interact and dialogue with some pretty amazing people from all walks of the globe. Two of the leaders of this group were Chris Rice and Emmanuel Katagonle. They both head the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina. Both of them have written a number of books over the years, and they collaborated together on a book called “Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace, and Healing.”
I downloaded a copy of the book recently on my Kindle and just could not put the book down. I have underlined and highlighted and made notes all over the place. The authors even share glimpses of their own stories in this journey. Rather than present a formulaic book on forgiveness and reconciliation that merely offers sentiments and cheap platitudes that say “can’t we all just get along?” this book gets into the heart of what the reconciliation journey is all about. It talks about coming to a place of deep lament, to hear the cries and be disturbed by the truth of this brokenness again and again, and to offer a hope that goes far beyond mere “optimism” and hugs and handshakes. It’s about maintaining a vision of the future by remembering the story of God and being inspired by a vision of God’s future, relocating to the hard places of truth by standing in the gaps, practicing a far more radical version of justice than we can ever imagine, all while knowing that “the way things are is not the way things have to be.”
In the epilogue they say,
At stake is a summons to see reconciliation not merely as a challenge of what “ought” and “should” be done but as an invitation from God to participate in what is most beautiful and true.
The work is never done in our lifetime. We never arrive. We never fix it all. God’s work of forming this new community of friendship in the world happens in this fragile “time between the times,” between the resurrection of Jesus and his return.
Here and now, in the meantime, we take the time to do it well. In the meantime, we go into the gaps and lay down our lives. We chose to go far and not fast, taking the time to travel with companions. We do what we can by giving what we have, with love and excellence, even if our best is given to those things that seem small.
You go to the gap because you should. But you keep going because you and others have come to know Jesus more intimately along the way.
What we learn in all this, and proclaim through our living, is that what matters for faithfulness in reconciliation is not the moment or the big splash but who we become with others over the long haul and what we leave behind with them. And what is at the same time small and yet so very much to leave behind is this: a footprint in a broken world that proclaims, “The way things are is not the way things have to be.”
The best part of all this is that this book has just been translated into Chinese!!! I cannot wait to be able to pick up a copy of this book to share with friends!
I highly recommend this book for anybody who has a heart to see justice and reconciliation take place in this world- across the whole mosaic of human experiences, beginning with the family and with the congregation, extending to whole nations and people groups. What part will we play?