- St Peter's Rectory
- Byers Green
- Co Durham
- DL16 7NL
Monthly Letter from Priest in Charge
I destroy my enemies when I make them my friend
I saw the above statement written on a big canvas in our hotel bedroom in Siem Reap in Cambodia a couple of weeks ago. This quotation comes from Abraham Lincoln but is particularly poignant in a country still recovering from the trauma of the Kymer Rouge genocide of the 1970s and the years of Vietnamese occupation in the 1980s. Yet the reality is that the Cambodian people seem to have done just as this statement suggests. There were no reprisals towards the thousands of young soldiers of the Kymer Rouge despite the horrors that they had inflicted on their own people. Instead, they were reintegrated back into their own communities. Even Pol Pot himself lived many years until he died of natural causes in 1998.
So what does this all have to do with Advent and Christmas? The ancient Israelites had frequently turned their back on God and yet he never gave up on them. Those who turned to Jesus became Jesus’ friends including many who had lived lives that were in direct opposition to God’s commandments. In effect, one could say that, through Jesus, God destroyed his enemies by making them his friends.
The same is true for each of us. When we turn to Christ and call him Lord we become his friends. Advent is a season of repentance and looking ahead to the time when Jesus will return to judge the world. It is a time for Christians to consider whether or not we are truly God’s friends and to review whether or not our lives reflect something of that friendship by making friends with those who have hurt us in some way – even if all we can do is to let go of our anger and bitterness and forgive them in our hearts.
Christmas is the time when we remember how God kept his promise to Israel that he would send them and the rest of the world a Saviour. Jesus’ resurrection was the proof that the promise had been fulfilled and that God has made us his friends if only we choose to accept God’s forgiveness for all the mistakes that we have made and the harm we have caused in our lives.
So, during the coming month, I encourage you to reflect on what it means to be a friend of God’s and also to take to heart Lincoln’s message: I destroy my enemies when I make them my friend.
May you and your family have a blessed Christmas
Rev Caroline Friswell