Bishop Eric Menees
As we continue our examination of the 2019 BCP Eucharistic Rite, you’ll remember that last week we spoke of the Summary of the Law, which I argued is meant to remind us of the proper priorities in our lives.
While the first commandment is to be first and foremost in our lives, of our own accord we are unable to fulfill that commandment. It makes complete sense then, that the Summary of the Law is followed by a choice of either the Kyrie or the Trisagion.
The Kyrie is short for the Greek Kyrie Eleison, which translates to: “Lord have Mercy.” Knowing we have fallen short of the mark, and that we will continue to fall short of the mark, we are reminded of the standard set forth by the Lord, and in the very next breath we ask for mercy in a beautiful and poetic way: Kyrie eleison - Christe eleison - Kyrie eleison; or Lord have mercy - Christ have mercy - Lord have mercy. Of course, this plea to God is not new to Christianity, but rather grounded in the Psalms (Ps. 4:2, 6:3, 9:14, 25:11, 121:3) and the prophets like Isaiah (33:2); just to name a few.
The concept of Mercy is an interesting one for Christians who often confuse Mercy and Grace, or Mercy and Relief. For example, many argue that the new law for physician assisted suicide is all about mercy when, in fact, it is more accurately about relief. (See my previous Bishop’s Note on the evils of this new law). Mercy is when the punishment that is merited is instead withheld. This past Sunday, Blind Bartimaeus — believing that he was blind because of his sin — called out: “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus turns to him and asks: “‘What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him,"Rabbi, let me recover my sight.’” (Mark 10:51) What Bartimaeus was asking for was Grace – not Mercy. Grace is when we receive God’s goodness when we do not merit that goodness, and Mercy is when we do not receive God’s punishment, which we do merit!
An addition to the 1979 BCP was continued in the 2019 BCP: the Trisagion, which could be used in place of the Kyrie. Trisagion, Greek for “thrice holy,” essentially asks for the same thing as the Kyrie, while proclaiming the attributes of God – Holy, Mighty, & Immortal!
The Celebrant and people pray or this
Lord, have mercy upon us. Holy God,
Christ, have mercy upon us. Holy and Mighty,
Lord have mercy. Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us
As we enter into worship, it is fitting and right that we acknowledge — at the very beginning — that we deserve eternal suffering for our failure to live into the standard of the Great Commandment, but in God’s Mercy he spares us and we receive Grace instead!
I pray you all a blessed week!