Winston Churchill was having his portrait painted by a successful artist. When the portrait was finished, it was unveiled. Churchill was most unhappy with the result. When asked whether he liked it, he replied, ‘I don’t think it does me justice.’ To which the artist replied, ‘Sir, it is not justice you need, but mercy!’
At the end of the day we all need mercy even more than justice. The theme of the ‘mercy of God’ runs throughout the scriptures. And Mercy is something we can forget we need. God is ‘rich in mercy’ (Ephesians 2:4). The Greek word ‘eleos’ means ‘mercy, compassion, pity, clemency’. The mercy of God is available for you. In Psalm 51 we see an example of a person who is the recipient of God’s mercy.
Imagine making such an impression on the Lord God that when he brings his Son into the world he names him after you. This was the case of David. A man after God’s own heart, an adulterer, a murderer. Psalm 51:1- He knows his need for mercy. Commentators suggest that it was his time in in the wilderness as a shepherd boy and then on the run from Saul that helped shape his heart – while yet others point to the moment of Psalm 51 – a heart that receives Mercy is shaped by God.
It’s in Lent that we do what no one else does really, we remember that our days are numbered. We realize our mortality and our need for mercy. It is receiving Gods mercy that shapes our hearts to be like his.
So far this year in the church’s seasons, we have seen that God is almighty, all-knowing, and all-loving; that this God became flesh in Jesus at Christmas; and most recently that this Jesus wants to save us. He also wants to save our city, but from what? Lent spells it out for us – Jesus wants to save us from – our own sin. So in Lent, we turn inward and learn to locate our need for salvation in our own hearts. This is the primary way that followers of Jesus, as individuals, get to participate in the victorious epic story of God’s redemption: we get redeemed.
We are just about ½ way through lent. And unlike me you may have survived spring break and held to your Lenten fast or practice. Unlike me you may have gotten through St. Patrick’s day and been true to what you have taken on for Lent.
Remember the purpose of a Lenten practice isn’t to do it perfectly – rather the undertaking is to help us locate our need for His mercy. So if like me you’ve failed rather spectacularly to give something up – start again. Renew it. His Mercy is new every morning. A heart that received mercy is shaped by God. It is receiving his Mercy that shapes our hearts to be like his. Keep it up you’re halfway there.
Lenten Prayer and Fasting – Saturday, March 23
As a church family, All Saints Dallas has been called to a rhythm of prayer and fasting during Lent. The focus of our fasting and prayers will be on our move downtown; to concentrate on both internal preparation of the heart and the external preparation in our new neighborhood. Prayer – Each Saturday until Easter, wherever you are, we ask your prayers for 15 minutes, during your regular devotion or between 8-10 am. Every Thursday in the newsletter there will be a different prayer, with verses and specific prayer requests, for you to pray through that Saturday. Fasting – Choose the fast you feel called to; missing a meal, giving up a particular food/drink for the day, or a complete fast for that day. If you can’t exercise your fast on Saturday, pick another time throughout the week. Let us pray this, not just as individuals, but as a church family together. We’d love to hear about your experience!
Prayer for the Human Family (BCP pg 815)
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Scriptures to meditate on:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 2And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 3I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
- Pray for the almost 4500 households in our new neighborhood- that they would welcome us, and be welcomed by us, as we establish a Gospel community of love, peace, joy, and prayer in our new home.
- Pray that they would come to our new home and renew their relationship with Jesus or encounter Him for the first time.
- Pray that we as All Saints Dallas would continually be open and available to be used by God in the renewal of our new neighborhood and the city of Dallas.