Once upon a time, there were two brothers. Their father had a large farm and when he became too old to work, he called his sons to him. “I am too old to work anymore,” he said. “I will divide my farm in half and give each of you one half. I know that you will always work together and will be good friends.”
When the brothers first started farming on their adjoining farms, they were the best of friends and would share everything together. Then, one day there was an argument between the two brothers and they stopped speaking to one another. For many years, not a word was spoken between them.
One day, one of the brothers was at his house when a carpenter came to his door and said, “I would like to do some work. Do you have any work that I can do?” The brother thought for a moment and then replied, “I would like for you to build a fence on my property. Build it down near the stream there that separates my farm from my brother’s. I don’t want to see my brother anymore and I would like you to build a high fence there please. I’m going into town and I’ll be back this evening.
When he came back that evening, he was shocked to see that the carpenter had not followed his instructions. Instead of building a high fence there, he had built a bridge over the stream. The man walked down to take a look at the bridge, and as he did so, his brother walked toward him from the other side. His brother said, “After all the terrible things I’ve done to you over the years, I can’t believe that you would build a bridge and welcome me back.” He reached out to his brother and gave him a big hug.
The brother then walked back up to his farmhouse to talk to the carpenter. “Can you stay?” he asked. “I have more work for you to do.” The carpenter answered, “I’m sorry but I can’t stay. I have to go, for I have many other bridges to build.”
Sometimes we have disagreements with members of our family or amongst friends. It started small but nobody is willing to back down or make the first move and now we’re stuck with division, suspicion and bad feeling. Sometimes we fall out with a neighbour and we stop talking and just mutter and chunter instead. Sometimes we even fall out with God, blaming Him for what is happening in our lives and we fall away from church.
Lent, which begins on 1 March, is a great time to ‘build some bridges’, to heal those divisions that eat away at us, and to join ourselves with the reconciliation, hope and love that we find in Jesus. As this parable reminds us, it is never too late…