Most Sunday mornings I have the privilege of offering a prayer during our church’s worship gathering.
This year for Advent our church is focusing especially on the theme of joy. One of the key Scripture texts for today’s worship gathering is Luke 1:68-79. As I read the passage earlier, this phrase spoke to me in particular: “…because of the tender mercy of our God.”
“Tender mercy.” What a precious phrase! “Tender mercy.”
It struck me how much fierce hate and aggression we are exposed to on a day-to-day basis. Lately, the news has been filled with too many stories and opinions related to mass shootings, terrorism, and corruption. And then there is a new expression I hadn’t seen before: “micro-agression.” It’s an idea that conveys the kind of environment many people have to face each and every day. It’s the experience of being struck by hurtful words, suspicious stares, skeptical thoughts and snap judgements. The repetition and regularity of micro-agression one experiences when going from one space to another, one day to another, begins to take its toll on a person’s psyche and soon we are left with more micro-agression in retaliation for the initial micro-agression.
After a while, all these micros pile up to make a macro. And soon we find ourselves lashing out at each other.
But the good news of God is a story of tender mercy. What a precious phrase!
I am fortunate that I get to spend many of my working hours practicing tender mercy in ministry with children. Children thrive on tenderness in much the same way a seedling thrives on gentle care and attention.
Today, I have the privilege of seeing Grace’s children present the Christmas story to another group of people in sore need of tenderness: the elderly. We did this program last year at the same place we will visit this year and here are a couple of the pictures from it.
What displays of tenderness! I do believe the world needs more of this.
So, this is the prayer I will make this morning in worship. It’s a prayer that comes as a response to our time of offering financial gifts as worship. I find it very telling that money and hate too often go hand-in-hand and am hopeful God can write a new script through us in which money becomes a way to show the tender mercy of God. Here is the prayer. I invite you to make it your prayer, too.
We are filled with joy this morning because, as your word tells us, you have shown us your tender mercies.
Tender mercies…tender mercies. Thank you, Lord, for your tender mercies.
We are reminded recently that we live in a world where we see anything but tender mercies in the daily news cycle.
Even the season of Advent has sadly become tainted by the antithesis of tender mercy. We go from the vibrant colors of Giving Thanks to Black Friday in a matter of minutes where tender mercy diminishes so that cold, hard cash can be made.
Cold, hard cash…cold, hard cash.
Lord, forgive us for weaponizing currency. In a day when money and guns go hand-in-hand, and money becomes a gun…cold, hard cash…Lord, forgive us.
Our legal tender is anything but tender.
And that is why we pray to you. We pray because it is in you and you alone we can find true, unspoiled tenderness and mercy. As we present you these offerings, have mercy, Lord. As we bring these gifts to you, may they be a loving, soft-hearted response to your gentle tenderness.
We give in hopes that you will take our offering and use it to demonstrate your tender mercy to a world that needs displays of tenderness. Make the world a place of gladness and joy, Father.
In Jesus’ Name,