During Holy week two hymns come to mind. One is “Jesus Thy Boundless Love to Me” and the other is “O Sacred Head Now Wounded”. It was written by Bernard of Clairvaux but translated into German by a man named Paul Gerhardt. Paul wrote the first one as well. There are seventeen hymns in the Lutheran Service Book that were written by Paul Gerhardt. He was called the “Sweet Singer of Lutheranism” and he was a Pastor during the difficult times after the death of Luther. Most of his life was spent in the constant conflict of the Thirty Years War. He lived to see the death of all but one of his children. His hymns are amazing and his influence is quite extensive. The Wesley brothers both translated his hymns into English and Dietrich Bonhoeffer was much influences by his music. Today it is not the music that I am thinking about but the words that he wrote in his will to his only remaining son.
“Do good to people, even if they cannot pay you back because . . .”
What do you think the end of the sentence is?
What do you think the end of the sentence should be?
Gerhardt says “. . . because for what human beings cannot repay, the Creator of heaven and earth has already repaid long ago when he created you, when he gave you his only Son, and when he accepted and received you in holy baptism as his child and heir.”
I heard it on the road again when someone was helped with a flat tire and the helper was offered a reward and said, “I hope someone will help me when I need help. That idea is turned on its head.
We help our neighbor because God created us and redeemed us in Christ . Mercy work is the same. We do acts of mercy because we have been created by God and cared for purely out of divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness in us.