Sunday, August 24, 2014

Resting in the quiet of the Benedictine nuns' song

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

By the tender mercies of our God who from on high will bring the rising sun to visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79

Compassionate tenderness is the heart of our Abba, and thus is our heart, as His children. This is the mark of the life filled by the Spirit, The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.

Brennon Manning: Scripture points to an intimate connection between compassion and forgiveness. According to Jesus, a distinctive sign of Abba’s child in his willingness to forgive our enemies. Love your enemies and do good…and you will be sons of the Most High for He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. In the Lord’s Prayer we acknowledge the primary characteristic of Abba’s children when we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus presents His Abba as a model for our forgiveness: the king in Matthew 18 who forgiven a fantastic sum, an unpayable debt, the God who forgives without limit, the meaning of seventy times seven.

…The demands of forgiveness are so daunting that they seem humanly impossible. The exigencies of forgiveness are simply beyond the capacity of ungraced human will. Only reckless confidence in a Source great than ourselves can empower us to forgive the wounds inflicted by others. In boundary moments such as these there is only one place to go–Calvary.

…Stay there for a long time and watch as Abba’s Only-Begotten dies utterly alone in bloody disgrace. Watch as He breathes forgiveness on His torturers at the moment of their greatest cruelty and mercilessness. On that lonely hill outside the city wall of old Jerusalem you will experience the healing power of the dying Lord.

Ah, a long time.

On that Sunday not so long ago, July 15, in fact, the birthday of that nice man who threw away his crutches. On that Sunday, after I made my weary painful ride up the cobblestoned street to the humble parish church, I knelt in the back pew and considered the bloody Only-Begotten in utter aloneness. Gripped by his grace, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

None of us know what we do. We stumble through this world with smeary lenses of self-interest and shallow busyness and intentional distractedness to protect us from the other. Understanding triggers the compassion that makes forgiveness possible.

May we peek over the thick adobe walls piled high to protect us from knowing and being known in all of our brokenness and truly see. Not simply the other, the beloved child of God peeking out from his respective wall, but the One who so tenderly and so unconditionally loves us. Loves me.

Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion and tenderness on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget.

The crucified Christ is not only a heroic example to the church; He is the power and wisdom of God, a living force in His present risenness, transforming our lives and enabling us to extend the hand of reconciliation to our enemies.

And today Lord, may I toss aside my smeared glasses, tossed aside like those now unnecessary crutches which only impede and slow down my bounding into kneeling down gratitude, and see. Seventy times seven.