My church and my country... could us a little mercy now

We had a killer band practice tonight ~ so great to be playing with both my band mates AND our church choir ~ a united house making sweet, sweet music together.  We'll do unique things, too cuz both groups have their own mission, but it was gratifying in my heart that Mr. C was able to bring it all together tonight and build a bridge for both groups.  It was a taste of grace and shows how we're all in the quest for mercy together.

I'm thinking a lot about "the unforced rhythms of grace" ~ how they are active in my life in vibrant and subtle ways these days ~ and a song that keeps going through my heart is Mary Guthier's "Mercy."  It is a totally outlaw country secular hymn that I think may be one of the tunes we share this Sunday.  This version, with Marty Stuart at the Grand Old Opry, really speaks to me on September 11th...

The early verses have some personal resonance with family realities, but the last one tears me up...

Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don't deserve it but we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance, dangle 'tween hell and hallowed ground
Every single one of us could use some mercy now

This express what I think is at the heart of true religion ~ grace and freedom ~  mercy ~ a connection with a healing love that is beyond anything we deserve or control.  We can't control God, we can't control prayer. Hell most of us can't control our feelings or the ups and downs of most of life.  But we can enter it with open hands and hearts and embrace it fully. Fr. Richard Rohr has written that in the West we no longer know how to practice authentic "contemplative prayer" ~ that is, taking a long, loving look at what is real ~ rather we pray like we are in control of the Lord.

As soon as you make prayer a way to get something, you’re not moving into a new state of consciousness. It's the same old consciousness. “How can I get God to do what I want God to do?” It's the egocentric self still deciding what it needs, but now often trying to manipulate God too. This is one reason religion is in such desperate straits today. It really isn't transforming people, but leaving them in their separated and egocentric state. It pulls God inside of my agenda instead of letting God pull me inside of his. This is still the small old self at work.

Come to me all ye who are tired and heavy laden ~ come to me you who are exhausted of being in control and burned out on religion ~ and I will show you the unforced rhythms of grace.  Mercy is a key ingredient... and on the September 11th we could all use a little mercy now. 


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