As our country, communities and world become increasingly broken, fragmented and divided how might we respond to the fear and violence, extreme poverty and prejudice, hot button issues and knee jerk reactions how are we to respond to the questions, challenges and crises we see? And for a community such as our, for those who worship this God of love and believe that we are called and commanded to be love, how might we respond in ways that are loving, just, helpful, and healthy?
In a courtroom in Soweto SA, a woman is facing down the very man who took her son nearly a decade earlier. She knows his face. This same man invaded their home a second time a few years later to take her husband in the middle of the night. Sometime later he came for her as well. Took her to a river bank where her husband lay dying for resisting apartheid; refusing to remain silent amid extreme violence, poverty, and prejudice; or yield to the temptation to compromise his conscience for the sake of his own safety, security and comfort. He gasps a final breath, utters three final words, “Forgive them Father,” and expires.
And now she sits there, across the room as the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation commission struggles to seek justice amid a long legacy of violence, prejudice, and fearful fragmentation. The judge interrupts her tear-filled silent stare, “He can’t harm you now. What is the justice you ask of the court?” She looks to the judge, then the prosecutor and into the eyes of the one who took the men she loved, stole her joy and brought so much pain into her life. They wait for her to find the words that will determine his fate.