Tender Mercy

December 16, 2022

Because of the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break  upon us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”~ Luke 1:78-79 NRSV

Do you sense the tenderness of this season? There is something about Christmas that brings out feelings of longing, tenderness, perhaps nostalgia. It could simply be the consequence of living in the northern hemisphere where “In the Bleak Midwinter,” is an almost-daily reality. But I suspect there is more to it that goes all the way back to Zechariah’s prophetic words in Luke 1.

The Greek root for tender in the verse above is splanchnon – the gut, viscera, the affections of the heart, cherished one. The Greek root for mercy is eleos – compassion and kindness. In Hebrew the word is reḥamim – womb, what a mother instinctively feels for the child in her womb. Our Creator, the Holy One who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love is pregnant with motherlove for those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

I find tears of joy and longing arising from my body before I am even aware of an emotion in this season. A hymn or song, a smile on someone’s face, an act of kindness resonates with the first tiny streaks of daylight as night makes way for dawn. What we long for, what our world needs most, hope, peace, joy, love is coming. The light shines in the darkness. Dawn breaks upon us.

Guide our feet into the way this day. ~ Anne

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