Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by Thy governance, that Thy Church may joyfully serve Thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
_--Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church
Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
--Luke 6.36-42 (NKJV)
Living a peaceful life under the reign of Christ, characterized by mercy, devoid of hypocrisy, and filled with love toward neighbor--that is the calling of today's Gospel reading and the plea of our daily prayer. The life of the forgiven soul is, in theory, quite simple. Putting these ideals into practice as still-sinful people living in a wretchedly-sinful world is anything but easy. So we would do well to keep the very first of Martin Luther's famous 95 Theses in mind, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent,' he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."
In other words, as we seek to daily live out the commands of Jesus recorded here by St. Luke, we must be recognize that daily failure and daily repentance are parts of the struggle but that God's ongoing forgiveness is one of his gracious promises to us in Christ. While our sins and flaws are no excuse for laziness or lack of striving for holiness, they also ought not consume us and render us full of despair. For while our Father expects perfection, he is also merciful. Thanks be to God.
Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me (Paul Gerhardt, translated by John Wesley)
JESUS, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach, no tongue declare;
Unite my thankful heart to Thee,
And reign without a rival there.
Thine wholly, Thine alone I am;
Be Thou alone my constant flame.
O grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell, but Thy pure love alone;
O may Thy love possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown:
Strange fires far from my heart remove;
My every act, word, thought, be love!
O Love, how cheering is Thy ray!
All pain before Thy presence flies!
Care, anguish, sorrow, melt away,
Where’er Thy healing beams arise:
O Jesus, nothing may I see,
Nothing desire or seek, but Thee!
Still let Thy love point out my way;
How wondrous things Thy love hath wrought!
Still lead me, lest I go astray;
Direct my work, inspire my thought;
And if I fall, soon may I hear
Thy voice, and know that Love is near.
In suffering be Thy love my peace,
In weakness be Thy love my power;
And when the storms of life shall cease,
Jesus, in that important hour,
In death as life be Thou my Guide,
And save me, Who for me hast died!
Photo by Iman Gozal on Unsplash