This evening’s event at a packed Norwich Cathedral with over 500 people was given over entirely to an exploration of reconciliation.
In the context of the WW1 anniversary, the evening highlighted not only our world’s desperate need for peace today but also the fact that every single one of us is called to be a peacemaker. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’, Jesus tells us. “Love your enemies”. But what might this actually look like in your life and mine? This event offered lots of ideas.
It began with Choral Evensong and ended with Compline by Candlelight. There was time allowed to move around some specially devised Stations of Reconciliation. Norfolk’s own WW1 heroine Edith Cavell was the inspiring focus at one of them, as were the memorials to the fallen in St Saviour’s Chapel. A Field of Remembrance, a Labyrinth of Light and many other imaginative prayer stations acted as springboards to praying for the peace of the nations.
At the font, we were able to remember our calling as baptised children of God to work with him for reconciliation as well as the times we fail in this. We stood before a Cross of Nails six feet high constructed from many hundreds of small crosses of nails, remembering Coventry, remembering Provost Howard’s first such cross fashioned from scorched and twisted nails, remembering the way in which God “makes all things new”.
Bishop Graham chaired ‘Reflections on Reconciliation’ and we listened to opening contributions from a richly diverse panel: Pastor Rolf Stahl from Koblenz, Norwich’s German twin-town; Dr Marian Prinsley, President of the Norwich Hebrew Congregation; the Rt Revd Alan Hopes RC Bishop of East Anglia; and Dee Robinson, of New Routes Integration, a refugee integration project in Norwich. They discussed the need for reconciliation in a world peopled by homeless refugees and also in a divided Church.
In response to these initial reflections, the Archbishop made his own presentation before leading us into a time of gathered silence and prayer. There was then more time for people to make their pilgrimage around the Stations of Reconciliation before Compline brought the evening to a close.