In a situation where you aren’t sure whether to show mercy or justice, whether to live at peace or fight, extend love or judgment … if you get it wrong, get it wrong on the side of mercy, peace and love. “Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1:2), the Bible says.
Let these be more abundant.
Adam, a 13-year old with autism, is over six feet tall and weighs 225 pounds. When at church he has struck other children, and nearly knocked over elderly worshipers. He spits and fights when being restrained.
I can imagine the difficult dilemma of that community of believers. Undoubtedly they wanted to find a way to serve Adam and his family. I don’t know the details other than this: the church filed a restraining order against his parents.
The case made the news and prompted other churches to respond with stories of how they showed mercy.
For example, a church in New Brunswick, New Jersey revised its worship service format to help an 18-year-old young man with autism. The worship service used to start softly and build. But to accommodate his needs—related to various stimuli in his environment—they now start worship with a bit more noise.
Have you ever been in a church that changed its worship format? You’ll see some fireworks of emotions and opinions for sure! Yet this church made the switch out of collective mercy for this young man’s needs.
Another church in Minneapolis has trained some members to work with 13-year-old autistic twins while their mother sings in the choir.
The stories make me think about how merciful we are at CrossLife Church. Thank you for showing your mercy in this church!
Thank you for the kind word you spoke on Sunday to somebody you didn’t know—they were looking for mercy and they found it in you.
Thank you for saying yes when asked to volunteer or give—because of your service, your offering, those looking for mercy find it here.
Thank you for attending meetings and more meetings, and all kinds of moving things in and moving things out and moving things around. You have extended the arms of Jesus even wider so that through our church others find him.
You will run into people everywhere looking for mercy. But the church attracts more people, more often looking for more mercy and hoping to find it here. I believe they will.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, make us a church filled with your mercy. As we celebrate it in worship and say nice things about it, make it real among us. When we are tempted to hold back mercy, fill us with your Spirit to give from your abundance. So that others find the ultimate mercy in you. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Think about a time that you were shown mercy in church. Say a prayer of thanks to God and any people who were involved. Pray also that your faith takes abundant action in mercy at church, and makes a difference.