Greetings and blessings from Baghdad. I am usually very positive when I write from Iraq because I just love it here so much. This last week though has been so difficult, as we have been under huge spiritual opposition. It has been a very difficult time for Faiz and me. Added to this, Faiz has been in hospital in the North and, although he is now back, he is in great pain.
I felt that yesterday we had a big breakthrough when we really realized what was happening. Whenever the Lord is working in power there is much opposition from the devil. Through our G-d we know that we shall act valiantly and that we will win. I JUST PRAISE G-D FOR FAIZ AND OUR TEAM HERE, BUT please do pray for us. We need it. read on
After being in the Middle East several weeks I am about to return home. I am desperate to see Caroline and the boys. It has been a very difficult trip not least because of being so ill. The situation with the renal stones flared up and for the first time ever I passed out whilst preaching at the US Embassy. I came round and managed to finish my sermon and then was taken directly to the Embassy Hospital where it was discovered that my renal function was very poor and I was very dehydrated. Once I had treatment at the Embassy and St George’s Clinic I improved somewhat. It was another 5 days before the stones passed and then the pain stopped.
Thank you to for your prayers for healing. read on
Yesterday in my post I talked about the link between resurrection and reconciliation – here is a bit more about how they are linked.
Resurrection and Reconciliation
Reconciliation is in essence about mending what is broken. Restoring a relationship to what it was meant to be. Therefore the very heart of resurrection is about the restoration of the relationship between the Almighty and humanity; therefore it is about reconciliation a point that St Paul makes clear in II Cor 5:16.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that G-d was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though G-d were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
So reconciliation is at the very heart of resurrection ministry. We are a new creation if we are in Christ God has actually reconciled Himself to us and has therefore given us the ministry of reconciliation. Verse 19 makes it clear that the work of reconciliation is not finished. Through Christ and His death and resurrection he is no longer counting their sin against them but is still uniting humanity to his Heavenly Father. First and foremost He continues to reconcile humanity to the Father but this is not a ministry just for some. He has called all of us to continue this ministry of reconciling of restoring this broken relationship. He has therefore called us to be his ambassadors and representatives. To be an Ambassador is a very big role because you have to represent your head of state. In my daily work engaging to our British Ambassador is central to my work. On my phone for him it simply says HMA in other words Her Majesty’s Ambassador. The one who represents Her Majesty The Queen. If we take seriously what St Paul says then we are all His Majesty’s Ambassadors of Reconciliation.
People often ask how did you get involved in Reconciliation. Well the introduction that I have just written to my next book gives the answer.
From Coventry to Baghdad
At the very heart of my work is the work of reconciliation. For me this work is very much centered on and in the Middle East. It all began though when I was preparing for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. It began with working on a restoration of a broken relationship between Jews and Christians amongst students at Cambridge that story is told in depth in The Vicar of Baghdad but my real work in reconciliation at an international level began when I was appointed director of the International Centre for Reconciliation in 1998. Here I was heading up one of the foremost centres for reconciliation in the world. The role of Coventry Cathedral in reconciliation is truly exceptional and begun 58 years before I arrived there on the night of the 14th November 1940.
The Second World War was well underway but never to date had a city been completely destroyed. On this night the 14th November 1940 things changed. The City of Coventry in the heart of England was totally destroyed. It gave birth to the term “COVENTRIED” which means to be totally destroyed. Along with Coventry’s destruction was the total obliteration of its medieval Cathedral of St Michael. Named after the Arch Angel and great protector it was no more. Standing in the midst of the smoldering rubble the next morning the Cathedral’s leader at the time Provost Dick Howard took a piece of chalk and wrote on the sanctuary wall “FATHER FORGIVE’.
PEOPLE NOTICED HE WAS WRITING THE WORDS OF OUR LORD FROM THE CROSS. He did not write the words in full though which are “FATHER FORGIVE THEM THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”. People asked why these words were missing? The answer was simple it was the first line of what would become Coventry’s Litany of Reconciliation. “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of G-d”. We also need to be forgiven said the Provost. In this act he did not realize what he was doing. He was giving birth to one of the foremost ministries of reconciliation in the world today.
It was just days later that one of the Cathedral staff standing in the ruins of the Cathedral noticed that amongst the Cathedral rubble were the large medieval nails that had held the roof together. He took three nails and attached together. Thus gave birth to what became known around the world as the Coventry Cross of Nails. Now days all over the world you can find places of reconciliation where the Coventry Cross of Nails is also their symbol. As I go into our own church here in Baghdad there on the alter is the Coventry Cross of Nails in a piece of the bombed stonewall of the Cathedral. Each time I see the cross I remember that reconciliation is about mending that which is broken. Iraq is broken and here we are working at its restoration. All day, every day we are working for reconciliation and I learned about this from my time at Coventry.