Matthew Harrison energized a decade of “mercy” in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Harrison will talk about the Greek word splakna – compassion or mercy. Another friend of mine named James Qualben wrote about the Hebrew word for compassion – this is a quote from his book “Peace in the Parish”.
To help clear up our confusion about Love, consider the word Jesus actually used. The Hebrew/Aramaic word is rahamim (pronounced rah-ha-MEEM.). In the Bible rahamim literally means the” uterus of God Almighty.” That is the picture in Isaiah, where God declares that He has carried Israel as a mother carries her unborn child. Without going into all the details which biblical rabbis taught from this word-picture, we can summarize its main points.
1. New life (the “Prince of Peace”) is created in God’s rahamim from conflict itself.
2. The birth of this Prince of Peace from the rahamim of God guarantees the eventual reconciliation of all conflicts throughout the universe.
3. With His birth the Love of God becomes incarnate. This is mind-boggling imagery, but it conveys the core meaning underlying what Christ taught about Love. Christian love nourishes and restores life in our relationships, even among people in a congregation. Pain often accompanies this love, but this is the same kind of pain which happens in childbirth-intense but blessed, because it is associated with new life. Christian lifebirthing love nourishes that life and sees to its best. God “so rahamims the world” that, in sending His anI y Son, He restores that world back to redeemed life with Him.
The Samaritan has compassionate love (rahamim) upon a half-dead man lying by the side of the road, and the man is restored to life.
Christ has rahamim toward Lazarus, and this dead brother of Mary and Martha strides forth from the tomb laughing exuberantly.
The Waiting Father has rahamim toward his Prodigal Son, even while the young man was yet far off. Their dead relationship is brought back to life so robustly that the sounds of merry-making annoy that nit picking elder brother out in the fields.
Tommorow in worship we will hear the announcement of the coming of the Prince of Peace who “will save His people from their sins”.