What a gift we received last night from Stu G. We began the evening opening ourselves to God’s kingdom work within us as we reflected on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6. We then jumped right in as Aaron and Stu led us through the fifth Beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” We heard stories of women who have walked in this Beatitude and Stu shared two incredible songs (one featured the amazing singing of our very own Rhianna).
We have all felt the ache that comes from a lack of mercy. Most often it is in the form of judgment. We feel judged by God. We judge ourselves, and we feel the judgment of others in our lives. So we run. We find ways to distract ourselves from feeling the ache and prove our worthiness. But the simple kingdom reality is that God is present and he is extending mercy. As Stu said, “We are not offered certainty, but we are offered presence.”
I am still thinking about Stu’s definition of mercy, “showing compassion or forgiveness toward someone we are in the position to harm.” How have I been wounded by the lack of mercy, and where have I refused to extend mercy? This led us into the practice for the evening. Aaron walked us through a four-part prayer of mercy, the first of our kingdom practices this week (below).
With mercy in our hearts, we came to the table, the ultimate expression of giving and receiving mercy. We closed the evening with Stu leading us one more time in song. Halfway through singing Majesty, I stopped singing. I listened to your voices and was moved to tears as I thought about God’s crazy love. That our God, so great and majestic, would be present with us in that room as we sing together. There is literally no place in the world that I would rather be.
- Prayers of mercy – As you reflect on mercy this week, who comes to mind as someone who has wounded you? As they come up, practice this prayer.
- Place your hands open in front of your chest and pour out your heart to God. Imagine you are spilling out the contents of your heart into your hands and offering it to God. Be honest about what bothers you about this person. How you have been hurt by him or her withholding mercy?
- Keeping your hands in front of you, humbly put yourself in the other’s place. How might he or she be bothered by you? Is there some way you have failed to extend mercy?
- Now consider with God what needs to change within you to be able to show mercy to this person. What are some specific actions you can take to extend mercy?
- Finally, explore with God what would need to change within you to be able to receive mercy from this person. He or she may not be ready to extend mercy, but what would you need to do to be ready?
- Eyes of mercy – Choose to be intentional about seeing the image of God in others this week. C.S. Lewis said “you have never talked to a mere mortal.” How can you recognize the presence of God in everyone you interact with this week in your car, at the store, in the office, and in your home? What would it look like for you to see people with whom you disagree with eyes of mercy?
- Words of mercy – How can you show mercy and compassion in your speech this week? Make a commitment to avoid all critical speech. Choose to hold your tongue when you are tempted to criticize someone, speak ill of someone behind their back, post a negative comment on social media, and engage in negative self-talk. In the place of critical speech, intentionally speak words of encouragement and affirmation. Extra credit if you speak words of affirmation directly to the people you would normally criticize.
Grace and peace,
Jason and The Practice Team