Praying the Benedictus 11
Luke 1: 78
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
So said Isaiah (60:1-2) and Zechariah perhaps influenced by him pours out a song about Jesus and his son, John.
He sees Jesus as the light, the rising sun, the glory coming to us.
How was He sent? How did He come?
In mercy. We understand what this means because Mary also sang of it when she describes how God has remembered to be merciful, v54.
When you are merciful you act. But the action isn’t to win an argument, to prove you are right and the other is wrong. The action is to lose at first in order to give the person the opportunity to gain. The action looks weak and open to abuse. It is why it doesn’t come naturally to us. The Church that is merciful has to work hard at this. It is much easier to judge. But it isn’t just that God comes in mercy, but He comes with tender mercy.
We automatically think of that being gentle mercy. That’s certainly needed. But it is more than that. The word is splanchna.
The word actually means the intestines, the guts, the bowels of an animal. Figuratively it means Jesus has come to forgive sins with the deepest emotions of the mercy of God. These emotions are not like the violent passion of the Greek poets but the base for the most kind and compassionate affection for the other.
Can you imagine if every Christian stopped hitting people with a Bible of Judgment and instead lived a Bible of tender mercy? We lay our lives down for the ‘sinner’ because we absolutely and passionately love them. In order for that to happen we have to get to know them. We have to be their friend. We have to live with them, be with them. This is what Jesus did when he was incarnated into our world. It is what we get to do also, today.
God of tender mercy
You are the rising sun of my life
Let your glory fall on me.
Let tender mercy be seen in me.
I choose to lay my life down for another, even for someone who doesn’t know you.
Birth in me a deep tenderness for others so that it becomes the motivation for all that I do especially in terms of acts of mercy.
Thank you for your tender mercy given to me.
Even though I don’t deserve it.