We Cry, "Mercy!"

“Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York;

And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house

the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;

Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;

Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,

Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.”


Shakespeare had a way with words; did he not?  That was poetic language to celebrate the advent of Richard III to the English throne, a victory won upon the political and military landscape of what was assuredly not (at least at the time) “merry ol’ England”. 


Philadelphians have their own language; don’t yous’?  It will be in full view of the sporting world if the Philadelphia Eagles can de-throne the New England Patriots on Sunday evening, February 4, on the playing fields of Minnesota.  We shall see; won’t we?  Can Nick Foles prove more effective than legendary Tom Brady?  Will Philly’s notable defense be able to stop the likes of superman Rob Gronkowski?  Might the notorious mastermind Bill Belichick be thwarted by the men from south Philly?  Perhaps; though full disclosure requires me to tell you that I am a born-and-bred Bostonian, so my sympathies and sentiments lie diametrically opposite to most of you who read this essay … It’s all good; though, isn’t it … Isn’t it? 


Of course it is.  We are fellow Conshohockenites, fellow Pennsylvanians and fellow Americans, divided only by our allegiance to particular sporting teams, though now it does appear that there is so much more that can separate us than once was the case.  We have become a house divided, a continental rift of such cultural separation that it is becoming unduly alarming and disconcerting.  The culture wars are real; tragically and unnecessarily.  May God have mercy upon us!


“A house divided against itself shall not stand.”  The Bible knew that.  President Abraham Lincoln knew that.  We are learning it in a manner that is fast and furious.  Such a fissure to our life together is both frustrating and fatal.  What can be done?


I remember leading a prayer service at the request of President George W. Bush that a Day of Prayer be observed on Friday, September 14, 2001, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks upon our nation of 9-11.  The wisest counsel that I could offer to the packed crowd that filled our church sanctuary was for us to plead the mercy of God.  It remains, almost seventeen years later, the wisest counsel that I can fathom or muster.


King David worshiped God as he beseeched Him, saying, “Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old” (Psalm 25.6).  The prophet Isaiah reminded God’s people that “In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.  In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63.9).  His prophetic colleague Habakkuk added, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.  Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3.2).


God is merciful by nature.  We are needy by the circumstances of our nature, which is inherently sinful, as well as by the hard fact that our sins warrant divine wrath, but God would, by his nature, first-and-foremost mercifully-disposed towards us.  The Gospel mercifully makes known that, notwithstanding our sinful natures and desires, that “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2.4, 5). 


Are you troubled by the disheartening times in which we find ourselves?  There is hope:  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1.3-5).


I can’t offer or promise you a Super Bowl victory, but I can share with you the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.    There is life, and mercy, and hope to be had through Jesus, who loved us with His very life.  He says to anyone and everyone, “Come to me, all who are labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11.28-30).  He is the best that I have to offer you … He even makes Brady and Belichick look like lightweights, though whether the ‘Iggles can is an entirely different story! 


Bradley E. Lacey

Pastor, First Baptist Church at Conshohocken

February 2018