Breaking down barriers
‘Everybody from whatever background has a role to play
in the whole process of reconciling the world to God.’
Archbishop Jacob Chimeledya – Primate of Tanzania and Bishop of Mpwapwa – was staying in my home recently. I am a Canon of his diocese having served there for 6 years and we have been friends for 20 years. When I described the book Living Reconciliation to him he was eager to tell me of two biblical events that he associated with reconciliation.
The first was the amazing story of a woman – possibly a prostitute, certainly regarded as a sinner – breaking a jar of perfume over Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair. I grabbed my camera and got him to repeat the story on film. The video is now available on the Living Reconciliation website and so you can hear him for yourself.
There is some remarkable theology in the simple retelling of the story. Reconciliation does not just happen on the cross; Jesus lived it on the way. Reconciliation is not just about breaking the barriers between us and God; it is also about breaking down cultural, economic and social barriers between people.
Archbishop Chimeledya is clear that salvation is in Christ alone, but he sees how in anointing the feet of Jesus this socially excluded and victimised woman participated in reconciliation. He finishes his first reflection with these words:
‘Everybody from whatever background has a role to play in the whole process of reconciling the world to God.’
Watch for yourself: here
A reflection on the second video will come shortly on this blog.