\u003Cp\u003EDuring our visit to Germany over the summer we stayed with our son in Berlin, a city unlike any other in Germany. It has its share of monumental buildings dating from the time of the Reich but alongside a bohemian caf\u00e9 culture and lively arts and music scene. It feels more like a southern European city than a northern one, certainly in the heat we experienced it felt like one!\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe most powerful thing that struck me was the brutal honesty of the German people in facing up to the truth of the genocidal Nazi regime. Right in the centre of the city there is a Holocaust memorial covering half an acre or so, grim sarcophagus like blocks of stone that remind us of the horrors of the Nazi genocide. Underneath is a museum cataloguing the events and the people involved in this murderous regime and their victims.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EBishop Desmond Tutu who initiated the \u2018Truth and Reconciliation commission\u2019 in South Africa after the overthrow of the Apartheid regime said there can only be reconciliation on the basis of the Truth. Reconciliation and Truth are possible in the real world when we come to terms with what we have done. Such a process has made possible a peaceful future for Europe after the Second World War, after Apartheid violence in South Africa and after the \u2018Troubles\u2019 in Northern Ireland.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIn our reading from Matthew today we see a different process in action, a process not of reconciliation but of retribution and revenge. Such was the case after the first World War. Imperial Germany inflicted on Europe a war that claimed the lives of millions, exacting a price in blood and treasure that could not be paid. The Allies, after the war demanded reparations, again, that could not be paid, crippling the German economy and fomenting resentment and anger that fueled the rise of National Socialism. After the 2nd World war the lessons learned from the tragic consequences of reparations following the 1st World War resulted in a rebuilt and restored Germany that had the confidence to face up to the truth of its past.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cb\u003EWar Triptych. 1929- 1932 Otto Dix\u003C/b\u003E\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe war deeply shaped the art of Germany during and following WW1. One of the principal artists of that time was Otto Dix. Son of a foundryman, a working-class lad, he served in the German army during World War I. When the war broke out, he had enthusiastically volunteered to fight. In the fall of 1915, he was assigned to a field artillery regiment in Dresden. After the war Dix soon began to move towards a socially critical form of \u2018Realism\u2019. He was deeply affected by the sights of the war and his traumatic experiences would appear in many of his works. Otto Dix wanted to be objective yet he was shaken by what he was seeing happen to the German society. Such a recognition of the terrible truth of war and its consequences, however, was lost as the National Socialists reinstated the militarist state.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EHow different Germany could have been if she had listened and learned from its artists! \u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cb\u003ERestoration not Retribution: \u003C/b\u003EJesus lays out in this parable the futility of retribution and its consequences.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cb\u003E \u003C/b\u003E\u003Ci\u003E\u2018In anger his master handed him over to the jailers be tortured\u2019 Matt. 18: 34.\u003C/i\u003E\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAnger is backward- looking, it focuses on the wrongs of the past and not on the possibilities for the future. It seeks retribution for the wrongs committed but has no vision for the future. Indeed in this case no future was possible, because the man was in prison unable to make restoration! Anger has and always will provoke a cycle of violence that blocks off all possibility of reconciliation. There can be no winners in that situation.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cb\u003EProportionate Punishment:\u003C/b\u003E\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cb\u003E\u003Ci\u003E \u003C/i\u003E\u003C/b\u003E\u003Ci\u003E\u2018He had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt\u2019 Matt. 18: 30.\u003C/i\u003E\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIn the parable the debtor had been released from his debt, but his response is not mercy on his fellow servant but a punishment that is disproportionate and allows no possibility of repayment. If there is to be punishment it must leave the way to repentance and restoration, only then can there be a future for all. Our Lord\u2019s teaching is even more radical for the debt is forgiven. Such forgiveness enriches and enables us all to move forward and build a better future.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Ci\u003EMatthew 18: 27 \u2018The servant\u2019s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go\u2019.\u003C/i\u003E\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cb\u003EForgiveness\u003C/b\u003E: Past sin is recognised and dealt with, but for us all the price is paid by a loving God who recognises that the debt is un- payable. The history of mankind speaks of the truth of this parable not just for the individual but for whole societies and nations. The \u2018Blood feud\u2019 mentality only perpetuates violence, the gift of God in his Son is peace. \u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThis week we remember in prayer three grieving families. The Beard family, the Coles family and the Bowman family.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E \u003Cb\u003EPrayer for Ukraine\u003C/b\u003E\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EGod of peace and justice we pray\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E for the people of Ukraine today,\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003Eand the laying down of weapons.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003Ewe pray for all those who fear for tomorrow,\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003Ethat your spirit of comfort would draw near to them.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EWe pray for those with power over war and peace,\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003Efor wisdom, discernment, and compassion to guide their decisions\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAbove all, we pray for all your precious children at risk and in fear,\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThat you would hold and protect them.\u003C/p\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\u003Cp\u003ERev. Simon Brignall\u003Cbr\u003E\u003C/p\u003EI am contactable from Thursday to Sunday.