Cross Rhythms recently won a significant media award for the 'Truth & Reconciliation' piece, which regular listeners will have heard broadcast over the past few months.
The piece tells the true story of a Christian black lady from South Africa who forgave the policeman who brutally tortured and killed first her husband, and then her son. Her forgiveness of this man extended as far as embracing him in court and asking him to become her 'son' so that she could pour out the love she had left, on him.
Forgiveness was also at the fore recently in our news media, which reported on the tragic death of Rosimeiri Boxall, the 19 year old girl who died jumping from a 3rd floor window to escape a sustained and violent episode of bullying.
The response of Rosimeiri's parents must have challenged every parent in Britain. In their own statement, they said: "We continue to pray for those who are responsible for Rosi's death. We want them to know that we forgive them. That does not mean that what they did doesn't matter".
The couple hoped that "forgiveness will allow the girls to be released from the burden of what they have done, so that they can even now grow into the sort of people that God intended them to be".
It is the faith of Rosimeiri's parents, and the lady from South Africa, who are Christians, which gives us hope in these troubled times that there is a way to resolve what otherwise could be endless conflicts, on a personal and national level. There is a power greater than us Who empowers us with the divine attribute of forgiveness. He came to earth 2,000 years ago and we celebrate his birth in a few weeks time.
Also in the news recently is the dreadful revelation of how British children were deported to Australia as late as the mid-twentieth century, at times without their parents' consent, in a drive to 'improve their chances in life'. This misguided state objective caused untold misery for thousand of children who grew up in loveless homes, often suffering abuse and with no hope of returning to the families and friends they were torn away from.
Now adults, many of these deportees are understandably hurt, angry and seeking financial recompense for what happened to them. No-one, on Earth, can fully appreciate what they have been through. We hope and pray that these people will find some measure of grace to forgive, because remaining bitter and unforgiving is like taking poison while you wait for the other person to die. As the Boxalls said, forgiveness does not mean the wrongdoing does not matter, but it provides the only way out of hopelessly broken situations that cannot be undone.
Forgiveness is one of the chief building blocks of the Christian faith, which has undergirded the structure of civilized societies throughout the world. To lose this value is to lose hope for reconciliation personally and in world affairs, and to devalue our humanity.
2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ was separated from his Father, and came to a land that was not his home, offering love, healing, hope and reconciliation to God. He was misunderstood, brutally tortured, mocked, derided, unjustly accused and killed. He did it all for love, of his Father and you and me.
The Good News is that death couldn't hold him and the grave couldn't keep him, and the Christmas story meets the Easter story in the most profound example of the power of forgiveness. Today, 2,000 years later, that power is still flowing from the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
This Christmas, as we gather with our families and seek to share hope and joy with one another, it would be a good thing for us to take time out, think of where we've been offended or hurt by those we love, and forgive them from our hearts. It's a 'gift' that will last a lifetime and beyond. It's a gift we need to receive as well as give.
This article was originally published in the Plymouth Shopper, a group of 7 localised community newspapers produced by Cornerstone Vision, reaching 62,000 homes every month in Plymouth. Each edition carries positive news stories and features, and provides local businesses, community groups and organisations with a very localised media platform to reach their own area.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
Chris and Kerry speak at a number of national conferences on Christian lifestyle, marriage and culture.