Echoes of Reconciliation on a Monday Morning

The last time I was in a choir was years ago during my junior year of nursing school. There was a song we would sing and I remember only one word from the song. The word was “reconciliation”. There was a chanting part where altos, sopranos and the rest of us would join in the chant of “reconciliation” only it wasn’t in unison. It was a broken cacophony of disharmony. It was ugly and confusing and it didn’t sound like a unified choir. Rather it sounded like we were all doing our own thing and not listening to each other, just chanting louder and louder, echoes filling whatever room we happened to be in.

And then gradually the tempo changed and the words became more unified until in a glorious succession we chanted over and over “Reconciliation, Reconciliation, Reconciliation”. As a group we chanted in harmony, no more disconnect, no more echoes, just the unified, clear sound of reconciliation. The meaning of the word was recreated through the medium of music. We went from a confusing cacophony that bewildered the audience to a harmonious unity that charmed them. I will never forget it.

This is supposed to be a central theme of Christianity, but you would never know it. We divide ourselves in a myriad of ways, from denomination to ethnicity to self-created litmus tests. We are loud voices of disunity, willing only to reconcile with those who are in agreement. But we are called to echo reconciliation and hope. We are called to harmony and unity within diversity. Not to be alike, or think alike, or act alike, but to love alike.

It’s easy for me to want to point the finger, to figure out a “them” that I can blame. Even as I search for blame I am reminded of the words of a Rwandan student that I met this fall at Brandeis University. He is studying in the Peace and Conflict studies program at the university. As we were talking about peace and solutions, he said “But really, it all has to begin with me. With ourselves. If we look for this to begin with others we are missing the picture.” This man from Rwanda, who has experienced civil war and hatred on a massive scale, gave me a gentle and powerful rebuke. It has to begin with me – that is the only person I have any control over.

So may it be my heart’s desire to live out a story of reconciliation. To change the  cacophony of sound to become a clear, harmonious voice of truth, echoing and reverberating to those I meet. May I be an echo of reconciliation this Monday morning and every morning following.

Bloggers Note: The guest speaker at our Sunday morning service, a man by the name of Peter Kuzmic, offered up insight and a challenge to this idea of reconciliation. Using the Biblical text of 2 Corinthians 5 he presented a picture of Christ as the great reconciler, who came to kill the “enmity” not the “enemy“.  A citizen of Croatia and native of Slovenia he knows a fair bit about conflict and reconciliation.  “God does not practice ethnic cleansing” are his words and he believes them with his life actions.

12 thoughts on “Echoes of Reconciliation on a Monday Morning

  1. Asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied that the two greatest commandments are to love God, and to love others as you love yourself. I remind myself of this every day because it can be so darn hard sometimes to love “some” others.


  2. Rather poignant — this perspective should be taught in schools and churches. Often one sees the division among believers instead of the unity.


  3. Marilyn, another good piece of writing. Thank you for sharing it. I love “we are called to echo reconciliation and hope. We are called to harmony and unity within diversity. Not to be alike, or think alike, or act alike, but to love alike.” What a challenge to us as we begin this new year.


    1. Lea – thanks so much for reading. It’s funny how often when I write a post, later on in the day I think “Now why did I write that? I can’t do that…” Humbling. And yet I believe it deeply.


  4. Hi Marilyn,
    A very good and timely word. I think this is what the Spirit is speaking in many different ways. I wrote a piece awhile back that you may be interested in: “Listening is a Healing Solace” March 2011. I’m not sure if you saw my response to your comment but I do know your brother and sister-in-law, very dear friends. So glad to have found you!


    1. Hi Julie – I did see the comment and it is so fun to know of this small world. We also have known the Fribergs (since I was a teenager) so Stan told me you know them as well. I look forward to taking a look at your post. I am encouraged by this comment. After I wrote it there was a huge disbelief in my mind of how reconciliation could ever happen as voices are increasingly louder and less civil – yet the Biblical message is clear. so thanks for reading and commenting!


  5. “We are loud voices of disunity, willing only to reconcile with those who are in agreement.” and there you have put your finger right on the crux of the problem, even those of us who are willing to discuss, to talk across are mainly willing to do it only with people who are in agreement. The important thing is not to always agree but at least agree to respect, to respect the differences and the rights of all people to be different.
    Kill the enmity! Wonderful concept indeed. Enmity which is a result of hatred, which is a result of lack of understanding, We fear what we do not understand, it makes us feel threatened in many ways and we hate what we fear. Understanding is crucial, and acceptance and respect.
    People normally use the word ‘tolerance’. One of its dictionary means is “Accepting of differing views” but I do not like the word ‘tolerance’ It conveys more of ‘putting up with’ rather than accepting, making the person who is tolerating, some kind of long suffering martyr.
    I like to use the words that convey the right meaning, words that cannot be confused. For me those have always been Understanding, Acceptance, Respect.
    It is not just different ideals and ideas that we cannot accept. There still exists discrimination against race and colour. I dont get it. Don’t we people who believe in our Creator, wish to celebrate the variety in His Creation?


    1. I agree with you about the word tolerance – I think tolerance is a watered down word. I tolerate bad smells. I think the best description was by Peter Kreeft “Be egalitarian about people and elitist about ideas” this has helped me articulate my views in a way that will fully respect others as made in the image of God even if I disagree with them. I don’t necessarily think it’s about accepting the views as much as accepting the people who have the views. Does that make sense?


      1. Your last words have me pondering all day. I don’t know if the full discussion on this will even fit in the scope of this comment. I have been thinking of ideas and how they become thoughts and then deeds, till you cannot separate the idea from the person. I have thought of Hitler, and Gandhi, strange how they both existed at the same time.
        I have thought of Ashoka the Great, an Emperor of India. The last made me realise that though ideas may be ingrained deeply into the psyche of a person there are times when a complete metamorphosis can happen as another, stronger idea takes root and the person gives up what he thought of before, as wrong.
        We have seen it happen in the eradication of slavery, the removal of apartheid, in the giving of freedom to colonies, by colonial powers. In the empowerment of women, in the emergence of democracy; the list is endless.
        We have always seen it when the world has been convinced about the utter injustice of an idea or a thought, which has been held firmly in the minds of the people before. It has just needed one mind that has opposed it and has been strong enough to change the other minds around it. So however firmly an idea is entrenched in a mind, however much it leads to thoughts and actions, it is possible to pull it out by the roots and replace it with another idea. So an idea is very different from a person. People are capable of growing, developing, changing the way they think.So yes reject the idea do not reject the person.


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