REPENTANCE - A CHANGE OF MIND
Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday and the centenary of Armistice Day 1918.
I started these three little essays on war with a quotation from Wilfred Owen. I conclude by again referring to this great war poet.“I, too, saw God through mud/ The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled”(Owen, ‘Apologia pro Poemate Meo’)
Tomorrow we will remember, and try desperately to imagine in some minuscule way, what it was like. But we fail and only seek to share with the fallen what Wilfred Owen called“The eternal reciprocity of tears”(Owen, ‘Insensibility’).
We seek to share their tears and suffering and through what we do to be worthy of their loss.
But Owen’s eternal sharing of tears involves God. God through his Son Jesus Christ shares our humanity and feels our suffering.
For God the Father every battle field is a return to Calvary and in the dying of every soldier the Father sees the crucifixion of his Son.
Repentance means a change of mind. Christian theology has narrowed its meaning to regret for and a turning away from sins.
But the Greek word is‘metanoia’ and refers to a change of mind and attitude, and consequently a change of behaviour.
A few decades ago with the thawing of the Cold War a Russian film appeared, describing this changed Russia. It was called ‘Repentance’. This same challenging call for a change of mind was sounded by the intergovernmental conference on climate change. The global population must change its attitude and behaviour before climate change runs out of control.
It is now accepted that the year 1914 irrevocably changed the world. Tomorrow we commemorate Remembrance Day and the centenary of Armistice. Tonight the British Legion Festival of Remembrance will have added poignancy for many families.
What is the only fitting remembrance and tribute to the fallen of 104 years of global conflict? Repentance, a global change of mind, is the only fitting tribute to the fallen of global conflicts.
For that matter repentance as a universal change of mind is the only solution to the horrific suffering in today’s world.
But the future salvation of the human race will only be achieved when the human family returns to God, to the God of humanity.
The God of humanity is above all man-made puny powers of politics, profit and greed God of humanity is unhindered by man-made powers, and is absolutely justified in judging mankind accord to its deeds.
This revelation of the absolute God is clearly demonstrated in Isaiah 40. Isaiah 40-55 is called Second Isaiah and reaches the highest water mark of Hebrew thought.
It was created in the turmoil of Israel’s captivity in Babylon, when Israel was a mere puppet state and a pawn in the furious conflicts among the super powers.
Then from this broken Israelite nation the voice of the prophet declared the power and glory of God.
“To whom will you liken God, or what likeness compare to him?” (Isaiah 40.12).
“Is the eternal God like one of your idols?”, the prophet mocks (Isaiah 40.19-20).
Then twice the prophet taunts the nations:“Have you not known, have you not seen?”(Isaiah 40. 21 & 28).
The prophet shouts:“Has it not dawned on your blinded minds that the Lord God is above all your powers and authorities.”
The real and authentic God is the God of men, women and children. He desires their wholesome destiny, God has shown you the way to live under God and with one another. God will reward your goodness and condemn your evil against others.
For God Himself has issued a clear clarion call to the human race.“God had shown you, O, man what is right and what the Lord requires of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God”(Micah 6.8).
Only when the global population lives in this way will the non-political white poppy of peace and the red poppy of sacrifice be woven together. Not into a wreath for the dead, but a bouquet for the living.
Not into a melancholy memorial for the bloody past but a resolute welcome for the future and for our children.
“O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord”(Isaiah 2.5).