Been trying to articulate in my mind some of what I'd picked up over the last weekend which I spent listening to James Alison at Corrymeela. But I can't. Or at least he says it much better. So here's a quotation from his book, 'Undergoing God', which I can't stop reading (thanks to Cary for the loan!);
'...the process of being forgiven looks like the breaking of heart, or 'contrition'.... What forgiveness looks like in the life of the person is 'breaking of heart'; and the purpose of being forgiven- the reason why the forgiving person has emerged from the Holy of Holies offering himself as a substitute for all our ways of pushing away being forgiven, trying to keep order- the reason he has done that is because we are too small; we live in a snarled-up version of creation, and we hold on to that snarled-up version of creation because we are frightened of death. What Jesus was doing was opening up the Creator's vision, which knows not death, so that we can live as though death were not. In other words, we're being given a bigger heart. That is what being forgiven is all about. It's not, 'I need to sort out this moral problem you have.' It's 'Unless I come towards you, and enable you to undergo a breaking of heart, you're going to live in too small a universe, you're not going to enjoy yourselves and be free. How the hell do I get through to you? Well, the only way is by coming amongst you as your victim. That's the only place in which you can be undone. That's the place you're so frightened of being that you'll do anything to get away from it. So if I can occupy that space, and return to you and say, 'Yes, you did this thing to me. But don't worry! I'm not here to accuse you. I'm here to play with you! To make a bigger space for you. And for you to take part in making that bigger space with me.''