On Thursday evening this week, my purse and my Tablet were stolen from my bag which was on the back seat of my car, I hadn’t left it for long, but long enough ( mental note to self, always lock your car!). They were clever too, they didn’t take my bag so it wasn’t until the next morning that I noticed that anything was missing. I posted my news on facebook, and received much sympathy ( thank you).
On Saturday morning a conversation with the police, who have been wonderful, prompted another facebook follow up, the thieves may well have been caught on CCTV. A friend then asked me what I would do if it turned out that the thieves were not opportunists but people in genuine need, a family to feed and sanctioned, or waiting the long six weeks for a benefit payment to come through! She posed it as a “moral dilemma”, thankfully I knew already what my response should be, because it has been my response before, our justice system allows for restorative justice, and I have met before with another thief ( a phone this time), and heard his story, what transpired was actually rather lovely and it has certainly stayed with me. We met in his bedsit, and he apologised to me, and I was able to forgive him, from there we looked at other ways that he might be helped. What struck me there was the sheer power of forgiveness, and that power did not come from me, it flowed from a deeper source that recognised the value of the other. The thief and I were and are both valued, loved, chosen and flawed. If I get the chance again I would choose the same route, because I must choose people over possessions, and mercy becomes justice if offered in the true power of love. Being forgiven cannot be taken lightly, it reconnects us to our source, the love that I call God.
It is God’s grace that enabled me to act as I did because I have found my own restorative justice, his mercy, in my life, I have come to know myself as included, and if I ever feel excluded from that love then it is not God but me who has taken myself there. I believe that this is the message of the cross where in Jesus all of the pain and brokenness of the world was drawn into the locus of that love and mercy and transformation became possible. In offering forgiveness to the thief I died to my right to retribution because I chose restoration, this I believe is the most powerful message, being a good Methodist I will quote Mr Wesley:
|All need to be saved.
All may be saved.
All may know themselves saved.
All may be saved to the uttermost.”
Salvation is resurrection at work, changing us and making us new as we yield to it, the message is that I can be transformed completely and so can the thief! Certainly the one hanging next to Jesus on another cross recognised this and was assured of his place in paradise!
Photos: 1. New Life. 2. Follow the flow ( mine)