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Communion 2011

The Splendor of God

Originally scheduled for May 29

The author of the apocryphal Prayer of Manasseh acknowledges God this way:

…for your glorious splendor cannot be borne,
and the wrath of your threat to sinners is unendurable; 
yet immeasurable and unsearchable
is your promised mercy, 
for you are the Lord Most High,
of great compassion, long-suffering, and very merciful,
and you relent at human suffering.

I hope you see the point.  It is that God is merciful beyond all measure and reason – despite the fact that He is high above us in glory and splendor, and his righteous wrath is unendurable.  It is one thing to be merciful when you are weak;  it is entirely another to be merciful when you are mighty.

May I submit to you that it is a fine test of the greatness of a man: what do you do when you triumph? Are you a revengeful, or merciful? A fine example of this is General Douglas MacArthur. When he took over Japan, at the end of World War II, many of his staff encouraged him to treat the Japanese as they had treated American prisoners of war. That treatment was gruesome and horrible. But MacArthur vigorously rejected the idea. In the American tradition of "malice towards none and charity towards all" he treated the Japanese with dignity and respect. No one was punished except through proper judicial procedure. The Japanese people as a whole found McArthur a benign monarch. The results of this procedure may be seen in the friendship of the Japanese towards the Americans to this day.

It is part of the glorious splendor of God that he is merciful to us. Indeed, just as his power is above and beyond all others, so is his mercy. Can there be any greater mercy than sending your son to die on the cross for the sins of those who rightly deserve death? That is what he did for us.

He asks that you remember this. Well we should; it is the most important fact in human history. So as you take this cup and eat this bread, remember: the splendor of the Almighty is displayed before you in the simplest of ways.

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