Music and Song, Theology, Worship

Mercy Mercy


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Occasionally I’ll hear a lyric in a song of worship that will make me wince. Brooke Fraser’s bridge section from Hosanna is a good example of this where she pens,

“Heal my heart and make it clean…break my heart for what breaks Yours”.

We sing, we follow suit, we play…but, really? Break my heart – really? Lord, I want to feel deep heart-break…really?

I winced recently when I heard a lyric clearly from the costly, private world of Matt Crocker and Joel Houston from the Zion track Mercy Mercy – and I wince every time I hear it and wince even more when I have the courage to sing it.

Let’s take a couple of key sections and think about whether we should sing it or not:-

Mercy mercy
Bring me to my knees
As the morning
Calls to light the dark in me

  • It’s mercy that enables us to sing anything – it is sheer grace. And repetition of it is a good thing – it’s just mercy, mercy, mercy mercy, mercy, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, mercy, mercy, mercy, grace….
  • Lowly, knee-worn postures are good because it’s where we receive mercy and grace. But it hurts. We should sing this because it’s difficult-to-take-in grace to be there voluntarily.
  • I think we would all agree that our own sin is very real and clear for us to see – perhaps most notably when we’re alone. Dark am I yet lovely, says Solomon’s bride, so we can be unafraid of our darkness as His light dawns.

Humble glory
Chose to carry all my shame
Rendered worthy
In the shadow of Your Name

  • Philippians 2 – The great condescension of Christ meaning I can get on my knees. If there is one thing worse than being broken on your knees, dealing with the pain of the fall-out, it’s being unable to fall to your knees to be healed and having to stand in pride and sin. His stooping made a way for our healing.
  • He became shameful so that we would be shameless. Even if you don’t feel it, honour Him today by declaring your own shamelessness before Him and love Him for the price He paid.

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Finally, the great crescendo of this quality song of worship:

Arrest my heart
From its reckless path
Release the chains in me
Awake my soul
To the hope You hold
Your grace is all I need

  • Oh Father – that we would be arrested by Your Spirit where we grieve You, so that we would please You and be protected from our own destructive inclinations
  • The heart of the matter is always the issue. We join with David in praying “O Lord, create in me a clean heart”. It’s from the heart that reckless paths can emerge (Prov.4:23) and become ingrained but we worship and sing and we pray that we would be arrested away from these paths. I like to think of Jesus rugby tackling me in perfect love away from paths that are hurtful to myself and others. This is the prayer as we sing though we may wince.
  • There is a better path, a much better path. It’s the C. S Lewis mud-pies and sea-side holidays, again – Christ may tackle us away from our paths of recklessness but to awaken us to the superior pleasures, joys and intimacies of a soul wide awake in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17). Oh, Jesus – awaken us to know You better. Arrest us from these paths. Heal our hearts and make us clean.
  • Here it is! The big prayer – release the chains in me – and we start by acknowledging that they are there and by asking Him to release us from them. They’re not hell-bound chains – He’s released us from that chain (hallelujah!) – but they are chains: chains that restrict us, cause us to drink our own vomit, repeatedly harden our hearts to more of His resurrection life in us, chains that trip us up.
  • I visited Gorée Island in Senegal several years ago – the African Island where Slaves were kept before being shipped to America. There are prison cells there that were deliberately made so low so that slaves couldn’t stand and so narrow that they couldn’t sit. The evil of the design was to force the captives to remain in a crouching posture which reflected their constant state of submission to a life dominated by the evil of slavery. The devil wants us to crouch in submission to other masters, other gods, other lords.
  • He holds a hope for us and it’s called grace and mercy. It’s all we need.

On our knees today, may we approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb.4:16). Let us approach the glorious One who declares you to be free!

Mercy, mercy, bring me to my knees.

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