Associate Minister's October 2014 Letter

GreenBelt Festival over Bank Holiday Weekend

 

On Friday 22nd August Joanna and I headed for Kettering in Northamptonshire – the new venue for Greenbelt.  We arrived late in the afternoon along with 15,000 other campers looking for a place to pitch our tent.  The theme of the weekend was ‘Travelling Light’ but we certainly hadn’t taken the hint – it took three trips each to transport all our stuff from the car the half mile to where we pitched our tent!

 

Greenbelt is a festival of arts, faith and justice with so many strands that together produce an inspiring mix of emotions and insights.  One of the main speakers was Mpho Tutu, daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who spoke very movingly about forgiveness in the context of South Africa.  The fourfold path:

  1. To tell the story of what happened
  2. To name the hurt – not focussing on who is to blame but on how the hurt is experienced.
  3. To grant forgiveness
  4. Renewing and Releasing the relationship

 

And the five things that forgiveness is not:

  1. Forgiveness is not easy
  2. It is not weakness – it requires courage and strength
  3. Forgiveness does not subvert justice
  4. Forgiveness is not forgetting
  5. Forgiveness is not quick

 

 

I also went to hear a Palestinian pastor, Mitri Raheb, speak about his experience of living under Israeli occupation in Bethlehem.  He also spoke of forgiveness, not in terms of vindicating oppression but in refusing to take the role of victim.  He was able to take the long view of history – invaders have come and gone – he listed sixteen different empires that have controlled Palestine down the centuries.  And yet as Jesus teaches us:  The meek shall inherit the earth, both in the sense of the whole world and in the sense of the Holy Land.  The one constant factor in all the centuries of history has been the presence of the ordinary people in the land and that will continue long after the present appalling situation is over.

 

Mitri ended by saying that Palestine has nothing at the moment to export in the way of material goods but the one thing he wanted to export was hope.  Hope is the power to keep focussing on the larger vision of a world at peace while taking the small, often undramatic, steps towards that future. ‘Hope is vision in action today.’

 

Next year Greenbelt is 28th August – 1st September.  If you are interested in coming, look at the website:  greenbelt.org.uk and let us know you are thinking about it.  It would be great to go as a group.

 

Christopher Cant


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