“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings,
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings.
It is an attribute to God himself.
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, Though justice be thy plea, consider this-
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there” – Portia – Act 4: Scene 1 Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – Jesus Christ
Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates. – Lao Tzu
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. – Buddha
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” – Ann Landers
“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” – Julia Cameron
Merriam Webster defines mercy as compassion or forbearanc; lenient or compassionate treatment; a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion; a fortunate circumstance; or compassionate treatment of those in distress.
Picture from this article
Prelude: Disappear From Dear Evan Hansen
Welcome: All of us are welcome here; all of us are loved By Erika A. Hewitt
Welcome Song: “Enter Rejoice and Come in”
Chalice Lighting: Come we now out of the darkness By Annie Foerster
The Principles: Kidciples Song
The Story for All Ages: You Will be Found from Dear Evan Hansen
Offering and Response (Unison)
For the gifts which we have received—and the gifts which we, ourselves, are—may we be truly grateful. Yet more than that, may we be committed to using these gifts to make a difference in the world: to increase love and justice; to decrease hatred and oppression; to expand beloved community; to share, and to keep sharing, as long as ever we can. Amen.
Hymn: Blue Boat Home
Reading: On this Trans Day of Visibility by Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray
Mercy is defined in the dictionary as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”
What does Mercy mean to you? Is mercy something we do? Is mercy just for the Divine?
Here is some beautiful music to listen to while thinking about mercy.
May we learn mercy. May we breathe it in ourselves and breathe it out for others.
“Use loneliness. Its ache creates urgency to reconnect with the world.”
— Natalie Goldberg
I know a little about “merry” meeting “mess” at the holidays — and by a little I mean How much time have you got?
Four Christmases ago, a painful break-up sent me spinning into a long tango with depression. Two Christmases ago, I came down with the stomach flu. Last year, as tears streamed down my face, friends cut off my long hair in preparation for my first round of chemotherapy. And this year? Like many, I’m grieving an election that, I believe, has already damaged the hearts and bodies of our country’s most fragile people.
I haven’t soured on the holidays, however — and I will not give up on Christmas — for two reasons.
First: long before my heart was broken and I lost my hair to chemo, I learned to shape the holidays to fit into whatever-shaped hole is in my heart.
At times, this has required ingenuity and vigilance. The holidays, laden as they are with traditions and sacred cows, can pull us into programmed ruts rather than genuine wonder. To ask, What do I truly need? and How can I claim my longing for joy? can happen only when we allow ourselves to practice vulnerability and take mindful pauses.
The other reason I won’t give up on Christmas is its central message: the Holy will never give up on us, her people. In fact, from Hanukkah to Solstice, that’s the message of most winter holy days: the Holy — call it God, call it The Force, call it Love’s Impulse — will never give up on us, even when we feel like curling up in a dark room and revoking our membership in the human family.
If I believe that your love will never let us go, I imagine saying to the Great All That Is, the least I can do is be your spy on the ground. I’ll keep watch for love, for compassion, for magic, for awe; and I’ll report back regularly, just to feel close to you.
Every one of you, Sugar Plums, has a story about the holiday blues: crisis, loneliness, wanting to give up. Telling our stories helps restore our wholeness. Tell yours. While you’re at it, form a plan for the coming weeks so that on the other side of this winter, you can look back and say, “Here’s how I made it gentler on myself, and here’s where I remembered that love will show itself, again and again.”
You reveal yourself to us in myriad ways, Gentlest of Ways, and at this time of the year you remind us that you’ll never turn away from us. Whether our hearts are merry or miserable, may our longing keep turning us toward you, and toward the presence of your Love among us.