Last night we were gathered together up on Hanham Mount, we have been holding these services on Sunday evenings through out August.
As we had begun to pray and worship, we saw three people arrive, and elderly couple and an African lady. The elderly couple said that they wanted to show their friend where Wesley had preached and changed a nation. The African lady introduced herself, her name was Mercy, and as they left after having a few selfies taken at the mount, Mercy turned to us and said “Don’t stop praying”.
Mark who was speaking stopped us a moment later and said “I think that was prophetic, we have been visited by Mercy, Mercy urges us to not stop praying!”.
we thought for a moment about what Mercy actually is, a word not common in our everyday language, but it means not getting what we do deserve.
we were reminded that as sinners, we don’t deserve God’s love, goodness, grace and mercy -all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect standards and the punishment for sin -the Bible tells us- is death, yet God -who is rich in mercy- gave his one and only son that all who believe in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Cross speaks of God’s mercy to us.
God’s nature is (the prayer book reminds us) always to have mercy.
God is slow to anger and abounding in love and mercy.
Mercy has triumphed (by the cross) over judgement.
The cross has been described where justice and mercy kiss. God cares passionately about his world -he is angered and hurt when he seems his children doing horrific things, and his heart breaks, justice protests -he cares deeply about the wrongs that have been inflicted- and yet he longs for us to “turn from our wickedness and live”.
Mercy believes people can and do change.
In fact as Mark reminded us yesterday (if you weren’t there wow you missed out!) the only reason God doesn’t call time on this broken and fallen world is because of his mercy. Scripture tells us that God does not want anyone to perish, it is mercy that is holding back the final judgement.
So mercy is at the heart of who God is, who the trinity is.
And yet God shows us mercy every day in the little and the big, God’s mercies are “new every morning” which is amazing really as someone that can struggle to sometimes let go and move on, knowing that with God a new day is a new beginning, “the old has gone and the ne has come.
And as Mercy urged us to continue to pray, I realise when we are praying for people to come to know Christ, we are praying in accordance with the very heart beat of God. God is longing to show his mercy to the people of Kingswood, the people of Hanham, the people of Bristol, the people of this world.
Mercy is God’s default setting, true he loves us enough to let us go and live our lives without him. He will respect our choice for eternity without him. Yet his heart is aching to be merciful to the humanity he loves.
So, as I thought about Mercy, I was reminded of two stories in the Bible, the good Samaritan -the least likely person- showed compassion and love to the injured man.
Do I see mercy in other people?
Do it look for it in the wrong places?
Do I celebrate it when I find it, even when that place may look a little unorthodox?
Another Bible story is of the man that the King forgave his debts (a massive amount) and then he ran into a servant that owed him a few pounds and he was brutal with him about getting his money back, throwing him into jail.
Do we show mercy? And do we really realise how much mercy God has shown and continues to show to me?
when I am merciful I reflect God at his most beautiful to his world.
Mercy says “Don’t stop praying”.