I was supposed to have assembled an advent wreath for my wife’s school last night. It comes to her going this morning – no advent wreath, and the search for candles begins. “You need red candles” says I. “Why?” says she. Because …. the holly (crown of thorns) bears a berry as red as any blood thinks I as I hastily assemble the case for RED. And then there’s the robin’s red breast of the Christmas card, the poinsettias – and the awareness that Chrismas marks a time – let’s run the two words together – forgiving.
Miroslav Volf tells the story of his parents’ forgiveness for the soldier and the childminder who caused the death of Miroslav’s five year old brother, Daniel. He had slipped out under the nanny’s guard to go and play with the real soldiers of the nearby barracks. The bored soldiers welcoomed the diversion of their playmate. One of them put Daniel on a horse drawn bread wagon. As they went through a gate on a bumpy cobblestone road, Daniel leaned sideways and his head got stuck between the gatepost and the wagon. Daniel died on the way to hospital. Both parents forgave the child minder and the soldier. Why? “Because the Word of God tells us to forgive as God in Christ has forgiven us, and so we decided to forgive” said his parents. Human history is adorned by heroes like these people who say that enough is enough, and who, inspired by Jesus’s forgiveness, find themselves able to forgive. Miroslav’s father said: “why should one more mother be plunged into grief, this time because of the loss of her son, a good boy, but careless in a crucial moment …?”
Red is the colour of a time forgiving.