FOR TODAY Read the following prayer by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What phrase strikes at your heart? Why? What phrase disturbs you? Why? Thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being, we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us. We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive. We love our friends and hate our enemies. We go the first mile but dare not travel the second. We forgive but dare not forget. And so as we look within ourselves, we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against you. But thou, O God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be. Give us the intelligence to know your will. Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love your will. In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen. At various times many have prayed to God or asked someone, “What is God’s will for my life?” When pressed, the question often reduces the idea of God’s will to a closely guarded file in heaven and suggests that our task is to determine the right answers that are a part of that file. Knowing and following God’s will becomes a game of right and wrong: and, you better get it right or else. What if God’s will is not so much clear-cut answers to specific questions as it is the arc of how we live amid all the paths, decisions and choices we make? As those who follow Jesus, the arc of our life is love. In all that we do, we are to practice love. This is the will of God for our life. "Tuesdays with Morrie" is a book that recounts the conversations between a young student and an older man who is dying. In one conversation, Morrie says, “Mitch you asked me about caring for people I don’t even know. But I can tell you the one thing that I’m learning the most with this disease.” “What’s that?” “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love and to let it come in.” One tangible way we give out love is mercy. And it is also a way to let love come in. That is to accept the gift of mercy from others and from God. In order to do so, we must make room and the way we make room is confession. Listen again to the prayer's supplication. “We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive. We love our friends and hate our enemies. We go the first mile but dare not travel the second. We forgive but dare not forget.”
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION Read the prayer again. Where in your life do you need to let mercy come in? How will you make room for that mercy to come in?
MERCY This week we focus on mercy, a word we use frequently in religious contexts or even colloquially: “mercy me, Lord have mercy!" Such common usage can sometimes dilute the true depths of this word. Being “merciful” is a quality attributed to God and one that God asks of us in return. We will explore various aspects of this attribute and its impact on our relationships in the coming week. Find all previous daily devotionals here