Thursday, July 26, 2012

On reconciliation (Colossians 1:19-20) with a story from the life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

SCRIPTURE: Colossians 1:19-20 (NIV)
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

(The Message): So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe - people and things, animals and atoms - get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.

A childhood accident caused poet Elizabeth Barrett to lead a life of semi-invalidism before she married Robert Browning in 1846. There's more to the story. In her youth, Elizabeth had been watched over by her tyrannical father. When she and Robert were married, their wedding was held in secret because of her father's disapproval. After the wedding the Brownings sailed for Italy, where they lived for the rest of their lives. But even though her parents had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship. Almost weekly she wrote them letters. Not once did they reply. After 10 years, she received a large box in the mail. Inside, Elizabeth found all of her letters; not one had been opened! Today those letters are among the most beautiful in classical English literature. Had her parents only read a few of them, their relationship with Elizabeth might have been restored. 

There is power in the act of reconciliation. There is sadness when attempts are made, i.e. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but rejected. There is a beauty in reconciliation when forgiveness comes with it (see tomorrows blog about a long story of hurt and pain and reconciliation between Korea and the Japanese occupiers during the war).

Thanks be to God for the reconciliation that he makes a reality through Jesus Christ. I particularly like the Message translation/paraphrase: “… that everything of God finds its proper place in him …” Of particular interest is the “of God”. For reconciliation to work we must be open to it and receptive to the love that is being expressed. Clearly Mrs. Browning’s father was not in that all her letters got returned, unopened. How sad. Her father allowed his controlling nature and anger to get in the way of a beautiful relationship … and the beauty of her words.

And so it is with us. We either accept or reject God’s love in Christ … on a daily basis. Do we simply return his “letters” unopened or expose ourselves to him in Christ Jesus? Now that is THE question!

Loving and forgiving Father, you have reached out to us in Christ, acceptance is now up to us as you wait patiently for a response. 

No comments:

Post a Comment