2 Corinthians 5:11-21

I think most of us have come across or even used the saying, “Chancing your arm”. It means to take a risk and give something a go. The origin of this saying is quite interesting. According to one theory, the saying dates back to a bitter family feud in 1492 between two prominent Irish families – the Butlers of Ormonde and the FitzGeralds of Kildare – over who would become Lord Deputy of Ireland, the British Monarch’s representative in Ireland. The feud escalated to violent fighting between them outside the city walls. The Butlers eventually sought refuge in the Chapter House of St. Patrick’s cathedral, bolting themselves in.

The FitzGeralds followed them into the cathedral. As the siege wore on, Sir Gerald Fitzgerald, the head of the FitzGeralds realised the feuding was foolish. Here were two families worshipping the same God, in the same church, living in the same country, trying to kill each other. So he called out to Sir James Butler, the head of the Ormondes, to come out and make peace. Afraid that he, his family and followers would be slaughtered, he staunchly refused.

To demonstrate that he was serious about reconciling, Sir Fitzgerald ordered that a hole be cut in the door to the room where the Butlers were holed up. He then thrusted his arm through the hole and offered his hand as a gesture of good faith. In doing this, he was taking a huge risk in having his arm cut off. Upon seeing that Sir FitzGerald was serious, Sir Butler grasped his hand through the door. There, they made peace. This ancient door, now known as the ‘Door of Reconciliation’ is on display to this day at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. 

Today, we celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’ conquering death and the grave (1 Cor 15:54-55). There is no single event more central to the Christian faith than the resurrection of Jesus (attested by hundreds of eyewitnesses – 1 Cor 15:3-8) because it provides irrefutable evidence of his divinity summed up in this declaration (one of many) in John 11:25, “…I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, and even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die…”. In Christ, we are a new creation; the old is gone, the new is here!

But according to the apostle Paul (read 2 Cor 5:11-21)our celebration mustn’t stop here. He goes on to tell us that God has made us Christ’s ambassadors, to be conduits of His presence and His message of reconciliation to the world. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”. What an awesome privilege we’ve been given but what a daunting task it is as well because it involves many times thrusting our hand through a hole in the door not knowing if our gesture of good faith will be received or rejected.

Of course, our Lord Jesus only knows too well about the risk, doesn’t He? Courage is not the absence of fear but to not let fear stop you from continuing in chancing your arm in the life changing ministry of reconciliation God has given you!

Lord, grow our faith in you!

Mark Ng