by Bob Wickizer

Have Mercy on Me
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Ecclesiastes 27:30-28:7; Psalm 103:8-13; Romans 14:5-12; Matthew 18:21-35
12 September, 1999

Verna Dozier, an Episcopalian laywoman who published a book titled, "The Dream of God" urges that we pray the daily news. So this week I found myself praying over the front page article about a Greensboro couple who each received felony sentences and prison time for the beating of their six year old son with an electrical extension cord --because he didn't do his homework.

My prayer in such cases starts out in despair. "How God can we humans, your own creation be so evil and cruel to one another?" "How could these parents do such a thing to their own child?" Oh yes, the news about Kosovo, or racial murders in the United States, or paramilitary cruelty in Sierra Leone is horrifying as well, but when it happens in our own back yard and when it happens within the intimate bond between parent and child I found myself shuddering with revulsion. You see, the shudder and the revulsion are part of the prayer. God hears the emotions we express as much as the words we say.

Our emotions constitute the only thing that we can claim as uniquely human. Anthropologists now report that other primates and even marine mammals display measurable intelligence, they make tools and they communicate in social groups. So emotions are all we humans have left to claim as what it means to be human. Emotions serve as windows if you will in which the struggles of our own soul to be glad or mad, anxious or relaxed, nervous or calm, outraged or joyous, revolted or awed are visible to the outside world and to God. Our emotions reflect our spiritual state far better than what we say or do. Our emotions define moment by moment who we are in terms of how we feel about something outside ourselves and at the same time how we feel about ourselves.

As my prayer continues and the circle draws closer I realize that my revulsion and my shudder include the awful fact ...

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