Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

In recent weeks I have been working with Steve Logan to bring ‘The Forgiveness Exhibition’ to Crieff Church (See or . During the process one cannot but read some of the stories of forgiveness. In doing so I am touched by the courage, honesty, transforming power and beauty of those who forgive.

Two of my favourites include the stories of: Tom Tate, who returns to the village in Germany where his comrades were illegally executed during WW2, to participate in a ceremony of forgiveness that lifts the townsfolk’s burden of guilt; and Ghazi Briegeith and Rami Elhanan, an Arab whose brother is shot at an Israeli checkpoint for responding to the Israeli soldier’s rudeness and an Israeli whose 14 year old daughter is killed in a suicide bombing. The two men meet and create hope by standing together as brothers through forgiveness.

Why do they touch me?

Firstly, carrying a burden of resentment, fear, guilt or anger simply crushes the bearer. It is destructive to his, her or their wellbeing. It creates a heaviness that hampers the ability to be optimistic and thus is destructive to personal relationships. Tom Tate despised the Germans and feared returning there, meanwhile the town lived with its shame and horror. Forgiveness met the need of both.

The same was true for Ghazi and Rami – but nothing is ever solved by hatred. The solution lay in the incredible act of forgiveness.

Secondly, the stories convince me that the gracious God revealed in Christ is alive and active in the world outside of church. I would argue that forgiveness has its source in the character and Spirit of our God. Steve Logan in a write-up about why we are hosting the exhibition explains:

Because the ability to forgive and love another person in spite of their actions is at the heart of our faith. It also has a resonance in our society – everybody has somebody or something for which they need to offer or to seek forgiveness. Forgiveness is universal, be you an Adventist or an atheist. By mounting this exhibition and offering these talks to our community we are stating very clearly that we, Crieff Adventist Church, want to be associated with a way of thinking and acting which is different from the usual ‘eye for an eye’. We, as Christians, have something to say on this subject. Follow the example of Christ.

Thirdly, their stories and acts of forgiveness are reminders and challenges to me of what God calls us to. If Ghazi and Rami can “stand together after paying the highest price possible, then anyone can”. And where better should forgiveness be on “exhibition” than in the community of the forgiven that we call church. Aren’t we the ones who pray “forgive us our debts AS we forgive our debtors”?

Llewellyn Edwards