It was during confirmation instruction with pastor Walter Braem, that in the summer of 1954 at age 13, that I discovered three words which I love not only for their meaning but for their sound. God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.
The hymn we will sing as our confession begins, “To Thee, omniscient Lord of all.” Oh, oh! God knows every thought, word and deed I have done during the 604,000 seconds of this week and every moment of the more than 4,000 weeks I’ve lived. The end of each stanza of the hymn tells me what to say in the light of God’s omniscience, “O God, be merciful to me!”
Immediately following our plea for mercy, we acknowledge, “O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy.” Wow, God’s glory is always to have mercy. Giving us the opposite of what we deserve, giving grace.
Then the prayer goes beyond myself. “Be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your word.” All those people who hold moral positions that are inimical, be gracious. All those people who have abandoned Christ, be merciful. When I want to condemn people or groups and tell the world how wrong they are, rather than pray for them, be gracious to me and lead me to have a penitent heart.
We pray this for all, including myself, “through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.” And all God’s people said, “Amen, let it be so among us.”