The thought behind the photo:
Mercy doesn’t wrap a warm, limp blanket around offenders, God’s mercy is the kind that kills the thing which wronged it and resurrects something new in it’s place. In our guilt and remorse we may wish for nothing but the ability to re-write our own past, but what’s done can not, will not, be undone. The words that we have spoken, cannot be unspoken. Our past can not be re-written, but I am here to say that in the mercy of God it CAN be redeemed. I cling to this truth more than perhaps any other. I have to. I need to. I want to. For when we say Lord have mercy, what else could we possibly mean than this? – Nadia Bolz Webber
SCRIPTURE: Luke 18:10-14 NRSV
Jesus said, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 20:30-34 NRSV
There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.
The December 18, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com
SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:46-55 NRSV
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
The response you read in this portion of the text isn’t what most would expect from a teenager who had just been given the news that she would be carrying God’s holy child. That happened a few verses earlier when she responded with confusion and fear.
What is it that caused Mary to move from fear and confusion, and perhaps resignation, to this joyous song? How did she find the courage to sing, “for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”?
Mary’s song can be considered a preview of the Gospel of Luke:
He has shown strength with his arm
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
How will the joy and courage in Mary’s song inspire you this Advent? How might you draw strength from the knowledge that God is one who favors the lowly and fills the hungry with good things?
Thank you Rethink Church for a great way to make preparing for Christmas more meaningful. Join me and thousands more in setting aside time to reflect, focus, and literally picture the deep themes of Jesus’ birth.
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