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Communion Meditations (2016)

Style of Mercy

Originally scheduled for May 8

The apostle Paul lists for us what might be considered the elements of style in mercy:

·         Compassion

·         Kindness

·         Humility

·         Gentleness

·         Patience

We might begin considering how Christ exhibited these characteristics to us, on the Cross.

·         His compassion is shown to us in the fact that he came in the form of a human being. Compassion is necessarily something that involves some similarity. Had he just floated in on a cloud and pronounced forgiveness, we would take it much less personally.

·         His kindness is shown in what he did not do: he did not berate those who were crucifying him, but understood that they too were intended to be saved. In his kindness he allowed those who were the ones who crucified him to become children of God like all others.

·         His humility is quite apparent. Here the Lord of the universe submits himself to the injustice of man, and makes no complaint.

·         His gentleness might best be exemplified by his care for his mother. On the cross, in intense suffering, he took the time and trouble to commend his mother’s care to his best friend, the apostle John.

·         His patience is with us today; he is waiting for all who will be saved to come in before his return to judge the living and the dead.

We can follow this style in our own lives, in imitation of him.

·         Our compassion may take the form of throwing an arm around somebody’s shoulder, which demonstrates the essential of compassion: it is mercy shown from one equal to another.

·         Kindness is often best shown with those who are regularly offensive. Not taking anger, but treating them as one who needs to be gently corrected, making sure that they are not humiliated in the process.

·         Humility is required for compassion and mercy; otherwise we tend to give mercy out with a great dose of pride. It makes us feel good, but I would question whether or not the recipient sees us as humble or humiliating.

·         Our gentleness is often the leading edge of mercy. It is often difficult for the recipient to distinguish mercy from vengeance; gentleness goes a long way in making sure we are correctly understood.

·         And patience? Sometimes we must wait for the right opportunity to show mercy. For some, we must wait until a large opportunity comes along; for others it may be the next offense today.

At communion, we celebrate Christ’s ultimate mercy. The bread and the cup are simple symbols of our forgiveness, the mercy that Christ has shown for us. Simple, yet profound, they touch the heart of every Christian. It is so important that God tells us (Matthew 5:7) the God shows mercy to the merciful, so there is a great benefit to this imitation of Christ. Indeed the style is so important that the apostle tells us (Romans 12:8) that we are to deliver mercy with cheerfulness. Perhaps our difficulty with mercy is that we enjoy receiving it more than we do giving it.

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