Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Memorization and Mercy.

As many of you guys know, I am finishing my degree in Worship Leadership at the University of Mobile. I became the NewSong worship leader over the summer between my junior and would-have-been my senior year of college. So I take one class at a time each semester, in hopes of finishing sometime before I am gray-haired and need a hip replacement.
But it actually is taking me a while.

A few months ago, Jeremy Steele started bouncing ideas off of me for his new sermon series in Evening Worship. He finally settled on the Sermon on the Mount and declared that for the last sermon, he would actually deliver the Sermon on the Mount - from memory. Incredible, right?! As someone who can memorize hundreds of songs, I am awful at remembering text - I need melodies.  So I was super excited to hear it!

So imagine my surprise when on the first day of class, my professor declared that over the next 15 weeks, we'll be memorizing the entire Sermon on the Mount! Of course, we have weekly quizzes and thankfully don't have the deliver the entire thing. So, like the good student I am, I got about to memorizing Matthew 5, 6 & 7. I'd heard it a lot before so there wouldn't be any big surprises.
Before my second quiz, I had just finished swimming in the pool at South's Rec Center when I decided to sit in the sauna for a few minutes. It was 9pm and I laid down in the ferociously hot room and began running through my Scripture in preparation for the next day's quiz.

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. 

The Beatitudes

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, 
for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, 
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
 for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, 
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, 
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses...

Those who are merciful.

mer-cy [mur-see] noun,  plural mer-cies
1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence
2. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
3. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor:
4. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing:

When was the last time I was merciful?
I don't have a murderer to forgive, or anything else huge, but when was the last time I showed mercy to the driver who cut me off? When was the last time I didn't throw up my hands in frustration or think, "What a jerk?" When was the last time I didn't roll my eyes and repeat myself extra-slow when JD didn't hear me clearly? When was the last time I defended that offensive person?

Now I'm not saying I'm without mercy... But I can act like it sometimes. It's not always my gut reaction. In a society that is entitled to always have justice for the smallest wrong-doings (too-hot coffee, a coupon that didn't go through correctly), we are easily swayed to believe that when someone makes a small mistake, we should make them fix it at whatever it costs them - because are entitled to have things go our way. We are counted as cowards or push-overs when we extend mercy to a driver who made a mistake, a spouse who accidentally snapped at us or a server who brought us lettuce on a hamburger ordered without lettuce. 

And yes- I get it. When your brother barks at you every time you speak, being a pushover doesn't work. But when did we last kindly respond to him and ask him in love to speak to you in a way that you find less offensive?

When did we ... no, I, last show mercy in a way that "gives evidence of divine favor; blessing"? And I don't mean to show people that  I have divine favor - I mean give them a blessing by being merciful.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

 I guess this "memorizing Scripture for class" thing may have a few surprises...

On August 25th, we sang:
"Nothing But the Blood" by Andy Cherry
"Jesus, Son of God" by Chris Tomlin
"Lord, I Need You" by Matt Maher
and for the offering, "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong

On September 1st, we sang:
"Beautiful Things" by Gungor
"Forever Reign" by Kristian Stanfill
"Alive in Us" by Hillsong
for the offering, "Let it Shine" by All Sons and Daughters (it meant more each time I sang it that week)
and for Communion, "His Glory Appears" by Hillsong

On September 8th, Landon led us in worship and we sang:
"Here For You" by Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman
"One Thing Remains" by Kristian Stanfill
"Give Me Faith" by Elevation Worship (awesome new song)
and "Hello, My Name Is" by Matthew West
and then "Give Me Faith" and "Brokenness Aside" by All Sons and Daughters for Communion.

 We'll see you this week for a great Sunday of worship - including some kiddos!


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