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The Word on the Week

Looking Back

As a Nation we are famed for long memories and while the Bible states that 1,000 years are like a day in God’s reckoning we might say the same of our collective memory of the 800 years English rule. The National Library houses the Papal Bull of 1155 granting Henry 11 the right to claim lordship over Ireland. Rather like some parts of the State papers released this week under the 30 year rule the Bull may be a forgery! However Bull or no Bull Henry was able to get the Irish Kings and Chieftains to sign up to his Lordship and the rest, as they say, is history. That is up to a defining moment during Queen Elizabeth’s State visit this year when she bowed her head before the memorial to the dead who fell in wars – both fighting for and against the English. Documents may be forged but deeds have an indelible language of their own which testifies to a deeper truth. That one very public act of contrition achieved a great deal of healing of relationships between our two countries paving the way to build constructive memories in the years ahead.  What comment can we glean from the Bible to take us into 2012? It is much easier to destroy a friendship than restore it. The Bible attributes this to our sinful nature. The truth is that sin separates. It divides families, communities and even nations. It is present in us all. Isaiah puts it simply “your iniquities have separated you from your God”. Repentance is the first step towards restoration. This involves a 180 degree turn in our thoughts, words and deeds. It is a God given grace which He may or may not grant. The heart needs to be renewed. This is God’s work, we cannot do it. Ezekiel, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, writes, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Chapter 36 verse 26). One thing we can do is follow the promise God gave to Jeremiah, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. As we go into 2012 take the invitation of Jesus as your own; “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out”.  His death in the sinners place makes it possible. Make this your first prayer for the New Year and with that relationship in place forgiveness can flow to others and healing take place.