Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Countenance of the Lord

This calendar and picture hang in our dining room. As it caught my glance and then further attention last night, I commented to my wife regarding how truly amazing God’s mercy is. After all that Jesus endured for our sake, willingly putting Himself in our place to take our guilt, our sin, our shame, our condemnation, our burdens, our suffering, our death, yet even though we turn aside from Him and mock Him with our lives, sinning and doubting and hurting ourselves and one another, yet He continues to look upon us in mercy and love. He never says, “After all that I did for you . . .!”

Rather, He calls to us through His means of grace in His Church, calling us to receive the repentance that the Holy Spirit works, so that we may hear His gracious words of forgiveness and peace and to eat and drink the blessings of His Holy Communion.

I am reminded of this at the close of every divine service in the Benediction, hearing again the amazing words, “The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and grant you peace.”

The Lord lifts up His countenance upon those who receive this blessing. Instead of looking down in disgust, instead of glaring with wrathful condemnation, instead of turning His countenance away, He lifts up His countenance in compassionate and merciful love and bestows His peace.

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