Thought for the Day - Rev Joel Edwards - 03/01/2013
Since his ascent to the leadership of North Korea last year, the enigmatic and youthful Kim Jong-un has kept us all guessing.
As a nation which prides itself on military might, but in which a third of its 24 million people suffer malnutrition, North Korea remains a focus of attention for human rights bodies, the international community and supremely, its South Korean neighbour.
Hopes that his leadership would cast a more benign shadow across international relationships were blighted when North Korea launched its first long range rocket just weeks ago.
Two days ago, the leader emerged from the shadows to offer words of reconciliation in an unprecedented, televised New Year speech. But such is the nature of North Korea’s political rhetoric, that even olive branches are treated as perilous thorns.
Reconciliation is precarious business. From national Commissions, to domestic disputes, it runs the gauntlet between harmonious resolution and irreparable damage.
Invariably – perhaps inevitably - it always means that someone has to give way on something, because it involves the re-alignment of the views we hold most precious.
Reconciliation is like that Biblical image of the prodigal son who squandered his father’s wealth and dragged his reputation through the mud, before finally coming to his senses, deciding to make an embarrassing return journey to admit that he was wrong.
But even more powerfully, it’s the picture of the anxious father, eager to forgive. Resisting the urge to say, ‘I told you so!’ and rushing out recklessly down the street to meet his wayward boy before his feet got anywhere near the front gate.
In Christian theology, God has set the bar of reconciliation really high by his willingness to be moved. Even to change his mind. Ultimately, the enormous gap between his power and our weakness is bridged because God moves towards us.
In the weeks ahead, the world will listen carefully for further overtures of hope between North and South Korea. And no one is in any doubt that even the faintest hope of reconciliation between the two nations, will be extremely difficult.
But equally, we’re all anxious for a quality of reconciliation, which makes the world a better place, and North Koreans a freer people.