We go from refiner’s fire in yesterday’s reading to tender mercy today. Both describe how God acts towards us, though they seem very different attributes. Both are true, though we might want one over the other. When we over-simplify our relationship with God, we forget that love is expressed in a myriad of ways, some instantly recognized, others only in hindsight. Whether we grasp God’s love for us or not doesn’t change the steadfast nature of God’s love nor the certainty of God’s promises.
Zechariah’s prophecy about his son John speaks of hope for a people who have struggled under the rule of Babylonian, Greek and Roman empires. God’s promise to the shepherd king will be kept, a saviour will come from the lineage of David, and John will prepare the way. John will tell people of repentance and forgiveness, and the hope of one to come. In the fulfillment of this promise, we see the tender mercy of God, we see the love of a gentle parent, we see light glimmer even in the darkness of death. New life is on the horizon!
Tender God, you do not forget your promises, and your mercy extends throughout the ages. Help us to prepare the way for our Saviour, removing obstacles like cynicism and doubt through words and actions of integrity, by expressions of love for all. Amen. — DH