8/14/05, P13A

Lord, Have Mercy
Matthew 15: 21-28

n this little snippet from the life of Christ we hear a desperate mother seeking mercy for her sick daughter. Evidently, she had seen many miracles that followed Jesus' preaching and feeding of the multitudes. She came to the right place for “He is the Father of mercy and the God of all comfort.” (II Cor.1:3)

Jesus met the woman's need and He will meet our need if we will also plead for mercy, as did this woman. We too have to ask in order to receive. Mercy is not imposed.

The situation is made somewhat complicated by the fact that she was a gentile and the message of salvation was only being proclaimed to Jews prior to the soon to occur culmination of Jesus' ministry. However, as He often did, Jesus made a way for this persistent non Jewish mother and healed her daughter anyway.

The Good News is that after Jesus' Passion and Resurrection the doors of the new Covenant were flung open wide for all human beings to come to Jesus on the same basis. Thus, this miracle was a foreshadow of today's plan for the salvation of the world.

In today's world we are commissioned by Jesus to go into all of West Central Georgia with the Good News that Mercy is being extended to all. There is no reason for anyone to be left out anymore.

As we do on most Sundays, today we will have adults and children brought into the loving arms of this great church. Children will be brought to the Altar of Christening. We ask the parents and sponsors to renew their vows and we pray that when the child is old enough he/she will accept for herself/himself the gift of salvation. Salvation cannot be imposed.

For example, we can't make a child enroll at Georgia Tech if they are determined to follow their heart to The University of Georgia. Now we parents can kind of turn them that way if we show our love for our alma mater and take them to football games from their childhood on. Most rabid Bulldog fans beget barking fanatics too. And that's a lot like how we make Methodists.

We bring them to Sunday Morning Worship, Sunday School, V.B.S., Wednesday Night Dinners, Our Mighty Youth Ministry, and today we will have “Sunday Dinner on the Grounds, but in the Air Conditioned Fellowship Hall. Once a kid is indoctrinated by all of this it is virtually impossible for them not to seek out a Methodist place of worship once they are shipped off to Auburn , Knoxville or even to Tuscaloosa . As soon as they get their first grade report they will be crying out for MERCY!

Seriously, our kids around this church have learned to love the Lord. We are proud of them. They are wonderful and their future is an open door to a wonderful life. They know how to cry out for mercy and grace. They have learned to lean on Jesus. They learned from their parents that when trouble comes, such as geometry mid terms, they can cry out for Mercy.

The reality is that in many secular homes in America the kids have grown up without parents who have taken seriously their commission to rear their children in the way that they should go nor have they claimed the promise that when their children are grown they will not depart from the truth.

Fortunately however, there is Mercy for those parents who have messed it all up. There is forgiveness for young people who have strayed away from their moral roots and need to come home to Jesus' house.

We all need to always remember that when we stray away we can come home again. Most of us keep a road map in our cars in case we get lost. Some of you have these new satellite positioning devices in newer vehicles. They work well, I hear, and will guide you back onto the straight and narrow way that leads to mercy. But sometimes lost folks forget that Mercy is easily available in whatever position you might be lost.

For years now I have begun every private prayer with the phrase, “Lord, have Mercy on me a sinner!” These are comforting words because each and every one of us is a sinner and once we have asked for mercy, and received it, we are empowered for the day. When we have called upon the Almighty to forgive us and help us, we have tapped the wellspring of power.

The current English word for Mercy has come from ecclesiastical Latin (Merci). It is probably from the alms receiver who would say, “Reward to you in heaven! May God give you “Merci !” Contemporary French language uses ‘Merci' as a word to convey the idea of “Thank You!” In restaurants and on sidewalks one hears the word “Merci,” repeated through the day. I enjoyed hearing the word used so much for it reminded me of my great need for the Mercy of our God; and it was one of the few French words that I knew.

Certainly, the mother who approached Jesus, as he was hurriedly beginning another trip with his Apostles to a new place of ministry, understood how important Mercy was in her daughter's life. She was clear about what she wanted. The Apostles asked Jesus to, “…send her away for she was bothering us.”

We can only hope that those around the throne in Glory might think that we are being too persistent and specific in our crying out for Mercy, but it seems to be the operative word and concept that is the very heart of prayer. “Lord, Have Mercy!”

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
8/14/05, P13A