Sharing Our Faith Together

Be merciful

by Rev Jacky Quarmby 10 December 2021

Reading:  Genesis 9: 18 – 29

In the last few weeks, we have been working through the story of Noah and the flood.  In this final story, we find that Noah has started growing vines and is enjoying the fruits of his labour. Unfortunately, on one occasion Noah ended up drunk and had crashed out in his tent, rather the worse for wear.  His youngest son Ham found him and gleefully ran to tell his brothers all about it.  But the two older brothers Shem and Japheth did their best to cover up their father’s embarrassment, so that he would not be humiliated.

Today we live in a society that seems, like the younger son Ham, to revel in other people’s mistakes and failings.  As fast as we put someone on a pedestal for some worthy accomplishment, some reason will be found to drag them down and humiliate them.  

As I write, the Ashes series is underway between England and Australia, and it is good to see that the young cricketer Ollie Robinson has been selected for the team.  Last summer after his first outing for England in a test match against New Zealand, he had taken 7 wickets and scored 42 runs.  It appeared he was a star in the making, until someone trawled through his tweets from 2012 and 2013 and found something that was offensive.  There was talk then that Ollie Robinson could be banned from playing for England, even though he was only 18 years old when he had made those tweets.

What bothers me most about this incident, is that someone deliberately set out to try and find something to undermine and embarrass this young cricketer.  The fact that they had to go back 8 years to find something, just shows how determined they were.

As we approach the third Sunday of Advent, our focus is on John the Baptist, who called on people to examine their lives, to repent of their sins and to turn back to God.  John, the gospel writer, in his first letter, says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  

Not one of us is perfect.  I am sure that we all have things in our past that we wish we hadn’t done or said.  A wise person once said, that if we spent more time examining our own lives, we would have less time to judge other peoples.  Perhaps too, we would be more compassionate to those who make mistakes and more willing to give people a second chance.  Jesus urges us to be merciful, as our Father in heaven is merciful.  

After all, as someone once said, 
“Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours shine any brighter”

Song:  God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name

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Loving God.
We thank you that when we confess our sins
You are merciful and just and willing to forgive.
Help us we pray, to follow your example.

May we not be tempted to gloat over the mistakes of others
But be prepared to show compassion and understanding.
And may we look for the best in other peoples’ lives
Rather than seeking out the worst.

For we ask this in Jesus’ name.