Christian Living Stories: A Covenant of Forgiveness

How do you forgive someone and go on with your life? It is not easy, is it?

Some cultures have customs of forgiveness. For example, the Masai in Tanzania perform an osotua, a word meaning “covenant.”

In his inspirational book, Christianity Rediscovered, Vincent Donovan relates how osotua works. If a sin has occurred between families within a community, it can be disastrous to the unity of the nomadic clan. It may threaten why they came together in the first place.

It is imperative that both the offending and offended parties be brought back together in an act of forgiveness. So the community prepares a meal, and both families must bring food. The offended must accept and eat the food prepared by the offender, and vice versa. The food is called “holy food.”

The idea is that when the food is eaten, forgiveness comes, and a new osotua begins.

Startling, isn’t it? What a simple idea. Have you shared holy food with someone you don’t like or whom you have offended? What about Communion? As you take Communion together, can a new covenant of forgiveness begin between you and someone whom you’ve offended or who has offended you? Or will you continue to carry the same resentment from holy meal to holy meal?

Donovan notes of the Masai custom, “A new testament of forgiveness is brought about by an exchange of holy food. What can one say?”

What a blessing when in our Lord and Savior we can say the same.

Author: James Henderson


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