The Tender Mercy of Our God

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(This week marks the fourth and final week of Advent. The word Advent means “coming.” As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming as a baby in a manger so long ago and anticipate his coming again at the end of time, may we become more aware of the many ways Christ comes to us each day…)

Throughout this Advent season, we have been guided by two verses from Zechariah’s Benedictus in Luke: NRS Luke 1:78 “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Our focus this week is on mercy. Do you know the first adjective God uses to describe God’s self? Merciful. Above all else, our God is merciful. The Greek word for mercy appears five times in just the first chapter of Luke’s gospel! In this week’s sermon, I focus on how we open ourselves more deeply to the mercy of God: https://youtu.be/PkyGCvb10tk Hint: Mercy requires generosity on the part of the one granting it; but also requires a certain vulnerability on the part of the recipient. Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) makes clear that mercy is a gift forfeited by those who are proud and committed to independence and self-sufficiency. That message is a tough sell in America where we are taught from the cradle that we should “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.”

Throughout this season of Advent, I invite you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and God’s presence through scripture and prayerful meditation, perhaps using the process below. A free app to assist you with this way of practicing attentiveness to God’s presence can be found at https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-mobile-app/

  • Read a passage of scripture
  • After reading, say this simple prayer of the early Church, “Come, Lord Jesus” or the prayer of the boy Samuel from 1 Samuel 3:9-10, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”
  • Sit quietly for ten minutes or more, listening for God’s voice
  • If your mind begins to wander, refocus yourself by using a mantra, perhaps: “God, guide my feet into the way of peace”

You might use the following resources to select a scripture – a different one for each day or one for the full week:

  • Trinity’s weekly online devotional. This week’s devotion was written by Rev. Britt Leslie, Ph.D. (New Testament) and can be found at: http://www.trinitylafayette.org/advent/fourth-sunday-of-advent-our-savior-comes and focuses on the following scripture passages: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:47-55; Rom 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38
  • Trinity’s weekly Advent group will focus on additional scriptures, including Exodus 34:1-6; Luke 10:25-37; Joel 2:12-14; and the 4th chapter of Jonah.
  • Twenty at Twilight is a weekly video post that provides a 20 minute guided meditation, a way of praying with scripture, to conclude the day focusing on and resting in the presence of God.  Each Wednesday evening, 20 at Twilight is posted to Trinity’s webpage (www.trinitylafayette.org) and FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/TrinityUMC509 and will also be updated on this blogpost.

Join us for worship on Christmas Eve live, via Zoom, on Dec. 24 at 6pm at:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83072737662?pwd=cjNHU3liSkZENXlESUZBdVYvQTVPZz09

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