July 23rd – Penitence for the past of others



The period from 27th November 1995 until the middle of 1999 has been marked out as a period which commemorates the 900th Year after the First Crusade. As children, some of us were fed on the fairy tale myths that the Christian crusaders were fine and honourable Christian knights, fighting to liberate the Holy Land from the barbarous Muslim infidels who were polluting the land where Jesus lived and worked and died. We now know that the crusaders were a terrifying force of European barbarians who committed vast and appalling atrocities, both going to and inhabiting the Holy Land, and what was worse, they murdered, raped, pillaged and slaughtered in the name of gentle Jesus Christ!
How could people be so blind as to believe that the God of love and mercy, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, could countenance such atrocities, let alone accept their dedication? When you think about it, it’s fairly easy to see how this can happen, for whenever men decide on war, for example they immediately attempt to dignify their cause by attributing their cause to their God, and their enemies cause to Satan.
Well, surely what happened 900 years ago is beyond our reach. We can surely do nothing about it now, even though the stains of 900 year old blood still seem fresh in a million Muslim minds? Some Christians have resolved to repent of the past. As living representatives of the same Christian church as that of the crusaders, they are seeking reconciliation. Like that planned walk to express penitence for their forebears for the sins against Jews and Muslims. You may think it madness, but they are trying to heal the past. They are identifying themselves with the sins of their fathers in the same way one might apologise for an elderly uncle or an unruly child, whose behaviour was unspeakable: but whom you could not disown.(Exodus 32: 31-32)
So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin -but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
A Prayer:
Lord, this day we would stand in penitence on behalf of our own sins and the sins of our fathers in the faith.
Now read Exodus 32: 25-35.

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