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Friday, 3 January 2014

Forgiveness - it isn't natural!

After a disastrous, and highly criticised, edition of the BBC 4 Today programme, yesterday morning, it was good, this morning, to hear a disciple of Jesus speak about forgiveness.  This wasn't even the daily "Thought for the day" spot.  Rather, it was the widow of Alan Greaves, the church organist who was mindlessly attacked as he made his way to the Christmas Eve Watchnight Service of his Sheffield congregation, just over a year ago.  He died, from the injuries he sustained in the attack, just three days later.

Two men were, subsequently, arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced - one for murder, the other for manslaughter.  This morning, Mrs Maureen Greaves confirmed to her interviewer (Sarah Montague) that she had forgiven both men.  Although, to my recollection, the precise words were not used, I could sense by the tone of her voice that Ms Montague was finding this very difficult to believe.  The line, and tone, of her questioning seemed to shout out - "But that's not natural!"

Mrs Greaves was excellent in the interview, speaking easily of the trust in God that had helped her through the past year - and that her late husband had shared - and that made the marriage of her daughter, on Dec 27th, the anniversary of Alan's death, and in the same church building to which he had been making his way, a joyful occasion.  Ms Montague appeared to have difficulty with that, as well!

Of course, the answer to Sarah Montague's unspoken question is that Mrs Greaves ability to forgive those responsible for the callous murder of her husband is not natural - it's supernatural!  It's the result of the grace of God working in her life.  She spoke, freely, of the fact that she is a sinner - and that her late husband was, as well.  However, she went on to explain that, as God, in Christ, has forgiven her, then she is able to forgive those who have hurt her in a way that is unimaginable to those of us who have not gone through the same experience.  She didn't quote, but is obviously aware of, Paul's words to the early followers of the Way, in Rome, that: "... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ..." (Rom 3:23).

I trust that many who were listening to that programme will find themselves questioning how a woman, who was widowed in such tragic circumstances, could forgive those who were directly responsible for her grief.  I trust that many will turn to the same Saviour Who, as Maureen Greaves pointed out, came to be the Saviour of the world, and submit to His Lordship in their lives.

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