Almighty God, we would hide ourselves under the wings of thy mercy. We dare not look at thy law, for we have broken it, nor at thy righteousness, for it is now unto us as a two-edged sword; but thou hast permitted us to look at thy mercy. Thine eternal pity, those tears of thine that bid us silent but large welcome to all the love of thine heart. God be merciful unto us sinners. We have done our alms, and men have seen the doing of them; we have prayed, and behold our prayers have fallen back unheard, unanswered. We have fasted that we might draw attention to the dejection of our face. God be merciful unto us sinners. We have done the things we ought not to have done; we have left undone the things that we ought to have done. We pierce ourselves with many accusations, we cannot spare the infliction of bitter self-reproach, we mourn, we repent, we bow down ourselves before thee in utterest humiliation, no voice have we of self defense. God be merciful unto us sinners. Our standard has been short, our balances have been unequal, our purposes have been double, our words have had one meaning to others and another meaning to ourselves; we have lied without speaking, by smiling, by action, by hint. God be merciful unto us sinners, make us clean of heart, clean in the spirit, right in our motive, holy within. Then shall our life be a sacred sacrifice; thou wilt receive it daily in thy heavenly places as a well-meaning offering of the soul.
We bless thee for all thy patient care, thy long-suffering, thy tender mercy. Thou hast taken care of us, as if we were of consequence to thee; thou hast numbered the hairs of our heads, as if thou hadst not to count the innumerable planets, and set the stars in their places. Thou hast hidden us in the hollow of thine hand, and drawn us very near to thine heart, and many a message of tenderest love hast thou addressed to us in our low estate. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gifts. Thou hast given us thine only-begotten Son, Son of Mary, Son of Man, Son of God, Lamb of God, Saviour of the world, whose name gathers unto itself all music, and comes down upon our sin and woe like the very gospel of thine heart. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.
Thou hast not left thyself without witness in our hearts. Thou hast given unto us thy Holy Spirit to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come, to purify us as with flame, to illuminate our minds as with the very light of thy throne, to teach us the meaning of thy truth, and to help us to apply it to our varied necessities. What shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward us. Truly we can render nothing in return, but it shall be well with us if with our hearts and lips we can bless thee for all thy love.
Thou art still in the world; thou hast not withdrawn thy rule from the sons of men. Still the horn of thine anointed doth bud, and still thou givest unto him a lamp that shall be a perpetual light. Thou liftest up the crushed truth, and thou givest renewed beauty to graces that have been trampled upon by heedless or cruel feet. The Lord reigneth, his throne is in the heavens, and his sceptre is stretched out over all. We know not what we do; we cannot tell what a day may bring forth; we hide ourselves in the infinitude of thy love; we put our whole life into thy care; we would expend it in thy service; we would yield it to thy glory.
Wherein any heart is heavily burdened today, let special messages of grace be sent to it from heaven. Wherein the light of any house has been suddenly put out, O thou, who hast all the lamps of the universe, do thou set a new light to chase away the sudden and heavy darkness. Where great tears of woe are starting from the eyes, because of bereavement, bitter disappointment, brokenness of heart because of family trouble, the Lord’s own hand touch those tears and dry them, for our hands cannot touch a grief so great and heavy. Wherein our purposes are right, do thou prosper them; wherein they are wrong or mistaken, do thou confound them. We put our life again and again, day by day, with every waking and every sleep, into thine hand. Thou didst give it, and it shall all be thine.
Send thy word out to those who are not with us today, to those who are shut up in solitude in the sick chamber, suffering or waiting upon others; be with those who are called upon suddenly to travel and leave us for a while, with those in trouble on the sea, with weary hearts too tired to pray, with those to whom life has become a great despair. The Lord lift the great cross higher, and let it burn with all the fire of his love, and throw out its heat so that the coldest heart may feel it and the most desponding life may answer its warming ray.
The Lord’s light be held above his word, and the Lord’s light spring out of his word, that in the light coming from heaven and springing from the written page we may see God’s meaning, and give it loving welcome to our mind and heart. Amen.