There doesn’t seem to be much good news around at the moment. Perhaps that’s always the case – the things that really get our attention, that sell newspapers, tend to be tales of grief and pain rather than ‘happily ever after’ stories – we leave those for novels.
But if you look hard enough you can normally find a good news story to celebrate. Amidst the horror of Syria and Yemen and terrorist attacks around the world there was an international ‘good news’ story last week. It involved the Basque separatist group, Eta, finally giving up their arms 6 years after they declared a ceasefire. Yet even within good news stories – and this is surely one – there often lies grief and pain. This is a story of reconciliation between two estranged, warring parties. But it’s a hard won reconciliation that isn’t neat and tidy. It leaves many dead, with their relatives still grieving. I’m sure not everyone feels part of it. If it is to go on being good news it will require the courage and determination to let forgiveness and hope triumph over hatred and despair. And that will be costly. I can’t help thinking of the powerful example set by so many in South Africa under Desmond Tutu’s ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ Commission back in the 1990s.
But as a Christian I can’t help thinking too of the events of that first Easter almost 2000 years ago when Jesus died the barbaric and excruciating death of a common criminal. St Paul, in some of his letters in the Bible, talks about what happened there as the ultimate reconciliation story. Of anyone and everyone who chooses to receive it, finding forgiveness and hope and reconciliation in the death – and then on Easter Sunday the resurrection – of Jesus Christ. It’s not a neat and tidy story, it is costly and it has within it much pain and grief – but it is good news.
By The Venerable Phillip Andrew, Archdeacon of Cheltenham