The gift of forgiveness

  Newsletter 03 August 2021  
  Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Spring MeetPrayLove Newsletter

A MeetPrayLove member has asked if we can publicise an event The Progressive Christian Network is putting on in Stirling and we are delighted to do that. Please e-mail with information about events in your area that you think other members might be interested in and we will share them on the website.

As we journey through the year inspired by the life of Nelson Mandela, this month we are considering his ability to forgive. Forgiveness is something I admire – but not something I find easy to embrace or understand. It is very hard to find it in one's heart to want to forgive people who have hurt us or others we love and care about. What's more, how do you achieve proper forgiveness – forgiveness in your heart, not just in words? How do you make that happen when deep down you don't want to forgive at all? Forgiveness can be a very tough call even if we acknowledge that it is needed for reconciliation and progress. Yet people like Mandela remind us that it is possible even in the darkest of situations.

When speaking of the reconciliation Mandela went through with his former adversaries he said: "It enables me to go to bed with an enriching feeling in my soul and the belief that I am changing myself." He explained that people unable to forgive may experience an inability to move forward.

Johann Lochner was a Johannesburg police officer from 1986 to 1990. In an essay submitted to CNN iReport he describes responding to a shopping mall bombing scene and stepping over body parts. "We suspected that the deceased may have been affiliated with the militant arm of the African National Congress, [and] that this man accidentally blew himself apart as he was planting a bomb at one of Johannesburg's most popular shopping malls – a mall where my mother shopped and my friends and I played miniature golf. I was the first officer on the scene, and that experience was seared into my memory."

Lochner describes the police department, as well as the city, as "greatly divided." However, he reflected that "Mandela wanted to find a way to unite all the people of South Africa – something only the power of forgiveness could produce," he said. "To this day, I am so passionate about the role forgiveness played in Mandela's life. I remember so clearly how I had to personally take steps to overcome the ingrained apartheid mentality in South Africa. It's almost like a miraculous, supernatural transformation had taken place in Mandela's life and, consequently, in the whole nation. Forgiveness freed Madiba, and forgiveness freed his country.

paper butterflyPractical Idea:
Create a butterfly from painting and folding paper – butterflies are often seen as symbols of transformation, so you may want to make one to express some way that forgiveness has changed or enriched you.

A5 white paper
Ready mix paints
Create a butterfly template by folding a piece of card and drawing half of a butterfly
Scissors and pen/pencil
Glue, glitter, sequins etc to embellish
Darning needle and embroidery thread

paper butterfly 2Method:
Create a template
Take your piece of paper and fold it in half
Choose your paint colours
Splodge paint on one side of the paper
Fold in half
Take your template and draw around it
Cut out your shape
Now unfold and you should have a butterfly!
If you wish, you can add glitter, sequins etc.
Once you have completed your butterfly, make holes in the tops of each wing
Thread through embroidery thread and make a loop
Choose a place to hang it

Charity of the Month: Relate
Relate is the UK's largest provider of relationship support, and every year they help over a million people of all ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations to strengthen their relationships. Relate began life as the Marriage Guidance Council in 1938. Clergyman Dr Herbert Gray and a group of his colleagues became concerned about the impact of modern day life on marriage and began pioneering research into relationships. Hundreds of married people came forward for help and their work began. By the 1950s the Marriage Guidance Council began to be recognised as a national institution providing dedicated and valuable work. On Valentine's Day 1988, the Marriage Guidance Council was relaunched as Relate in recognition of their wider relationship work with single people, cohabiting couples, same sex couples, children and young people and families.

All best wishes,

Sally Robertson
MeetPrayLove is part of the Methodist Church and is open to all

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