Sunday, February 28, 2010


(sorry this is a bit long, but reconciliation is big for me, especially right now)

so, last night i had the "tema" (main talk/discussion/bible study) for mládež (in slovak). it was quite an experience and process to prepare it, especially with the language difference. i had two weeks to prepare, so i spent the first week thinking about and reflecting on what to talk about. i ended up deciding to use 2 corinthians 5:17-21 on reconciliation. this is a really big thing for me for obvious and not so obvious reasons that i won't go into now.

after deciding what the theme would be, i then spent this past week reflecting on the text and what it means for me as well as reading about what others thought. then i wrote down what i was thinking friday and saturday. long process, but i really wanted it to be what god wanted.

2 corinthians 5:17
if we are to understand what paul has to say about reconciliation in verses 18-21, we must first look at verse 17. it has the somewhat infamous phrase "if anyone is in christ, there is new creation" which is connected to "everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" this does not mean that litterally we have new bodies, no wrinkles, no acne, no scars. instead it means that we are continually in the process of new creation. god is continually doing in us new things.

it also means that we see in new ways. we no longer see with the same eyes as before, but instead see through the christ's lens. the lens of the one who came to us to bring us back into right relationship with god. in that same way do we look at others as those for whom god came down to earth. as it says in john 3:17, not to condemn, but to give new life. we have new life, but we are not the only ones with new life. so we look at others as god might view them. as god's precious and priceless child.

the main verse that i wanted to focus on was 2 cor. 5:18, "all this is from god, who reconciled us to himself through christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation."

one of the big problems with the word reconciliation is that many people simply understand it as meaning forgiveness, but this is not quite it. if it were, then what would be the point in having a different word? for me reconciliation does not mean "forgive and forget." though it may be possible to forget the smaller problems we have with people, forgetting the big stuff (the stuff that truly needs reconciliation) is not possible, and perhaps not helpful. if we forget, then what do we have to learn from? how do we learn from a past that we don't remember? one of the gravest tragedies of our day is that people are choosing to forget the holocaust, which creates the space and potential for it to happen again in our present day.

so, what is necessary for reconciliation to happen, whether among individuals, groups of people, or even with governments and other such organizations, is for both people/groups to come together on neutral territory and to talk. whatever happened must be recounted so those involved know precisely what happened. once everything is on the table, then it is possible to truly ask for and give forgiveness. it does not mean that what happened will be forgotten, because, indeed, it must be remembered that it will not happen again. it does, however, mean that what happened will no longer be counted against the person/group.

one of the important parts of this is that whoever is involved, must recognize that most of the time things cannot be figured as simply as one person is completely at fault and the other completely innocent. when working towards reconciliation it is vital that we look at ourselves first, to see what we have done wrong and that we voice that and seek forgiveness for what we have done, not simply to seek to forgive others.

if we are unwilling to look inwardly at our wrongs, then we are wrongfully holding onto power that is not due us. in reconciliation, the power must be leveled, that neither individual/group would hold power over or against the other. when the playing field is level and both sides come not to forgive, but to seek forgiveness, then there is potential for reconciliation.

reconciliation is vital for our living as a human community, for, as archbishop desmond tutu points out in describing the concept of ubuntu, "my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours." that is to say, "what dehumanizes you inexorably dehumanizes me." if one is hurting, all are hurting, for such is our world and the body of christ of which we are a part.

not just for individuals
reconciliation is important for individuals, but also for groups. there are many things that governments and groups of people have done to oppress and discriminate groups of people. without proper reconciliation, how can we go forward together to make this world a better place?

in the same way, the church, too, needs to be reconciled to those it has hurt and oppressed. the role that the church played in the holocaust cannot be simply forgotten, but must be remembered so that we might know the terrible power of words and the terrible price that is paid when we fail to stand up for others against oppression and persecution.

there are more places where reconciliation is needed than it is possible to list, but if we do not start somewhere, we will never be able to bring god's reign to this earth. we will never have a world in which every person feels loved and valued.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


ok, sunday i listened to my pastor's sermon online and it was all about gratitude. keeping that in mind, here was my day:


there was hardly anyone at church (due to the massive amounts of snow we received the day and night before combined with massive wind), but when i walked out of the house, wondering if there would even be church, there were a few people outside, including katka's dad and he waved at me, so i headed down. he and ďuri were there and said they were waiting for me :)


ďuri asked me something i didn't quite understand and katka's dad mentioned something about freezing (zmrznúť) and told him yes. i figured out later that he was asking me if he should kúriť (put wood in the furnace-type thing that heats the radiators) the house for me (since the family was out of town for a funeral).


at church katka was waiting for me and nobody was upstairs so we sat with her parents. since katka was doing the readings, she sat on the end and i sat between her and her dad. during the service, he could tell that my hands were cold, so he took my cold hands in his very warm ones and held them and warmed them up for me :)


after church i dropped of fmy stuff and went to
kúriť, but when i opened the door, it was already full of wood! I had my own kúriť fairy (named ďuri).


then, katka and i headed to her house. she knew that i was alone, so she had asked her parents if i could come over for sunday lunch (the big meal of the week here). the lunch was delicious and afterwards, katka and i hung out in her room and then when i needed to go make sure the house was still warm, we told her parents and that's when i found out that ďuri was taking care of it for me! so instead, we hung out and had delicious, freshly-made pudding and watched march of the penguins:)


when i finally needed to go home to do a few things, i came back and ďuri was still there and he said that he had been keeping it warm for me so that i could go to sleep and he had shoveled quite a bit of the driveway so i could walk around and get where i needed to go!


i was alone in the house, and it could've been a very lonely weekend, but thanks to so many wonderful people here in rankovce, i was instead showered with love and generosity. and at the end of the day, my gratitude was through the roof!