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After the F Word…forgive me for asking but what should we do next?

3 April 2018

In her foreword to the brochure that accompanies The F Word Exhibition,  the founder of the Forgiveness Project, Marina Cantacuzino, says this…

“The stories aim to open up a debate around forgiveness, calling into question our often fixed beliefs about right and wrong, good and evil, justice and morality. Forgiveness is not held up as a magic bullet or a panacea for all ills. Rather, the stories reveal the journey to be tough but compelling, often painful and costly but also potentially transformative.”

I don’t know about you but I find these words almost as compelling as the exhibition itself. That’s why I believe it would be a huge waste of precious resources if as a church we now simply move on having, as it were, ticked forgiveness off our to do list. 

In itself, what form such debate takes isn’t important; what is important is that it actually takes place. Perhaps it could be accommodated within something quite structured, say through a half day conference. It could be a one off topic for discussion at House Groups (some I believe have already started down this road) or it might be something much more personal, maybe something you and I could chat about over a coffee.

Having now made these suggestions my only fear is that if we all get too hung up on the subject of forgiveness this may give oxygen to a quite worrying remark I recently heard; that whilst it’s right that every church has a hospital wing, what we must at all coats avoid is turning the whole church into a hospital. In other words concentrating so much on just one or two “blue light” type elements of what it means to be part of a community that seeks to love God, live generously and follow Christ that any number of competing issues risk being eased into the background.  

I appreciate that throughout much of Lent our Sunday morning sermons have been all about forgiveness, which for some might well mean that enough is enough. But today with The F Word exhibition boards now carefully packed away I think it would be foolish if as Marina Cantacuzino suggests we didn’t take this opportunity to create some time and some space for debate, some time and some space to unpack and share our reflections, our personal beliefs about forgiveness and what it is that forms them, and if we feel we need to even our experiences.   

John Sherbourne 




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