Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying,
‘Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.
‘Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. Open shame, O Lord, falls on us, our kings, our officials, and our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by following his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
At St. Augustine's, our weekly Eucharistic prayer tells of humankind rebelling against God. God's response, over and over, is to offer a hand of healing from our self-made brokenness. The continual pattern of human rebellion and divine redemption strikes me. I'm taken back to my very first Sunday at Historic St. Peter Church (now the Community of St. Peter) in which the pastor, Rev. Bob Marrone, preached on hope. That was the day I first dared to believe that God chose mercy over judgment, even when judgment was the only thing deserved. I learned in my years in that community that because this is true of God, we are called to make it true of ourselves: to render mercy rather than judgment, even when judgment is deserved.
On whom will I deliver judgment this Lent? To whom will I have the courage and humility to offer mercy instead?