“There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy”

"There's a Wideness in God's Mercy", ELW 588

There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in God's justice
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than up in heav'n.
There is no place where earth's failings
have such kindly judgment giv'n.

There is welcome for the sinner,
and a promised grace made good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.
There is grace enough for thousands
of new worlds as great as this;
there is room for fresh creations
in that upper home of bliss.

For the love of God is broader
than the measures of our mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
But we make this love too narrow
by false limits of our own;
and we magnify its strictness
with a zeal God will not own.

'Tis not all we owe to Jesus;
it is something more than all:
greater good because of evil,
larger mercy through the fall.
Make our love, O God, more faithful;
let us take you at your word,
and our lives will be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.

This week, we considered communications of warning, instruction, hope and love--often shared amid devastation and disagreements. Jesus calls for direct communication to foster loving reconciliation between church members. Paul wrote to Roman congregations during potentially tense transitions among Jewish and Gentile Christians.

Frederick William Faber, writer of "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy", likely understood tensions within congregations. He reportedly had an Anglican, Calvinist and Huguenot upbringing. Ordained Anglican, "dissidents" (perhaps Methodists) in his congregation challenged his Catholic leanings. He became a Roman Catholic priest. Faber's appreciation of Protestant hymns inspired his compositions.

Notice especially how verse three communicates Faber's inclusive insights, possibly learned during his denominational transitions. In all verses he emphasizes God's wide mercy and loving grace for sinners' reconciliation. Faber said, "Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence or learning." Our loving actions shared with our neighbors, as Luther instructed, sometimes communicate more effectively than words.

Merciful God, we are in awe of your love that is broader than we can comprehend. Forgive us when we falsely limit your love and burden our neighbors with rules of our own making. Please help us recognize and share your wide mercy and kind justice with everyone. Amen.

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