One of these days I'll get back to posting about what's going on in the world. In the meantime, however, here is the script for this morning's Pause for Thought on the Chris Evans Show on BBC Radio 2:
I've just been to Berlin for the weekend – and not for a stag do. I was actually there to preach in the Cathedral on Sunday.
Now, if you ever get the chance to go there, go in not as a tourist, but for a service and sit down and look up. At the edge of the huge dome is an inscription in gold and it says: “Be reconciled with God”. In German, obviously. It was chosen by Kaiser Wilhelm II – the one in charge when the world walked into war in 1914.
Now, I know I should have been concentrating on the service, but my mind got stuck on that inscription. During the last hundred years people have sat there and looked at those words – “Be reconciled to God” – and assumed they knew what they meant. But, what did they mean during World War One? Or the mad years that led to Hitler taking control in 1933? Or during the Nazi era of dehumanising violence? Or during the forty years of Communist dictatorship when God was officially squeezed out and ignored?
What I'm getting at here is that reconciliation with God is meaningless unless it is worked out in flesh and blood with other people. And the point about reconciliation is that – by definition – you only need to do it with people who are difficult. In other words, it's really hard to do. So, for example, you couldn't be reconciled to God in 1943 and ignore the cries of persecuted Jews, homosexuals or people with the wrong political views. Reconciliation with God must have demanded a refusal to be reconciled with inhumanity.
While they were breaking up the Beatles sang 'Come together', and made it sound easy. I'm not sure I have it in my power to reconcile warring countries or stop Nazis from genocide, but I can start where I am with those with whom I find myself in conflict.
Or, to put it differently, having looked up at the dome of the cathedral in Berlin and seen beautiful words, I must look around at the people around me and offer them what God offers me.