“But the man who is not afraid to admit everything that he sees to be wrong with himself, and yet recognizes that he may be the object of God’s love precisely because of his shortcomings can begin to be sincere. His sincerity is based on confidence, not his own illusions about himself, but the endless, unfailing mercy of God”. * Thomas Merton
Another New Year. Another stab at pressing the reset button on so many things. It seems all too easy to find old ways of becoming new which might explain why it is so easy to fail at resolutions. As Einstein states, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew”. We need new ways of seeing so that we can find new ways of living.
Maybe that is what the Magi set out to see. Something new- a practical way of manifesting God in their lives. Every New Year, I am like the Magi in that I set out to seek to get it right but then I wander. Some Christian faiths call Jesus birth a saving grace. But what does that mean for us today? How is “saving grace” related to transformation? Is the language of “saving grace” enough to renew, rebirth and repurpose us?
Our familiar language of Jesus as Savior seems to be growing cliché in many circles of wanderers.
Who is this “swaddled saving bundle of love” for us in an age when saving grace can feel so so slim in the expanding doorways of slugging politicians, uncontrollable terrorism and accompanying grief of the shocking images that stare us in the face of epic proportions today? How does this saving grace help me to face my own inability to love myself, and others? What did Jesus bring that we are missing?
I’d like to propose that Pope Francis is on to something by naming 2016, “A Year of Mercy”. Maybe, we are lacking the transcendent and redeeming gift of Mercy. What could happen if the Pope’s invitation extended to all faiths across the seas and lines of division, was accepted by everyone who seems attracted to the idea of mercy?
So…..what if mercy was a way to help us reframe our new beginnings?
Eugene Peterson states “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up….They’re created new every morning”.
God’s mercy. It is an invitation to see our worst selves so that we can become our best selves. It is an invitation to become smaller than our grandest of ideas so that we can see the futile ways we strive to redeem ourselves. Maybe mercy is God’s ongoing grace. Not receiving God’s mercy for ourselves (and toward others) might be a major culprit for our failed attempts at true transformation.
What if we could take the challenge and spend a year of listening to what mercy has to teach us? That is what we want to do with our new blogging team for the year of 2016. We have a stellar team of 12 bloggers and we invite you to participate and ponder with us, absorb the Spirit together and discover what it means to sit in the seat of mercy.
As Jesus stated himself, “happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them”.
*(please excuse the dated lack of inclusive language in the Merton quote)
Picture taken at River Rock Church in Grand Rapids, MI