“(God) has remembered to show mercy to Abraham and to all his descendants for ever”.
Lk 1:55 GNB
As we come to the end of another year, it is useful for us to do what Mary did in her great song of praise to God, known as the “Magnificat”. She looked back along the long sweep of her people’s history, saw God’s hand in guiding and protecting them, and praised him for his ongoing mercy.
Whilst it is not always healthy to be harping on about the past, it is something we do need to do from time to time. God had not only shown mercy, he had been doing it “for ever”. Whilst the whole emphasis in the Hebrew faith had been on the centrality of the law and the absolute need to obey it, it is the opposite quality of God that Mary exulted about – his grace. Of course the two go together, Always God is both “gift” and “demand”. We can’t have one without the other.
So spend some time on this old year’s day recalling just how much God, in his ongoing mercy has blessed you. You might even write a list of them. That list would most likely include human love, the money that pays your bills, feeds, clothes, and shelters you. That would be just the basics – there will be other things as well. Maybe you would see particular skills that you have as part of God’s mercy. You might look back on a good holiday, deliverance from illness, and good times you have experienced. If you have had promotion that would feature on your list, as would the passing of exams by yourself, your children and grandchildren.
Then, having thanked God, ask him for his continuing mercy next year too.
Lord, thank you for the past. And for the year ahead.