Thought for the week, 13th April; anger and forgiveness

Perhaps the most challenging of all Christian teachings is the command to love our enemies and forgive those who wish us harm. For some, this has proved impossible. The Rev Julie Nicholson, whose daughter was killed in the July 2005 London bombing attacks, resigned her post as a priest because she could not forgive the perpetrators of the attack. I doubt I would be able to offer much forgiveness if I were in her position. I am uncomfortable with the position of some, who seem to regard a refusal to offer forgiveness as a moral failing on the part of the victim. Whilst Jesus certainly did teach his followers to forgive those who had done them wrong, it is interesting that on the cross, the words that St Luke records are that he asked God, his father, to forgive those who were crucifying him; he did not explicitly forgive his tormentors himself.

I have recently been reading a book by TV vicar, Rev Kate Bottley. In a chapter on love, she deals with loving those we find unlovable. For me, she makes the helpful point that it is possible to balance two contrasting emotions. Her example was of a parent dealing with a naughty child; in my own experience it has been the frustration of dealing with an elderly relative. It is possible to feel anger and love together. So I think it is with forgiveness or love and anger; there is a way of holding the two together when we have been hurt.