When Johann Sebastian Bach sought to give musical expression to what he believed was the greatest of Christian truths he turned to the Mass. The Mass in B Minor opens with the poignant cry of the whole chorus and orchestra, Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy. In the fugue which follows all the voices and instruments independently take up this one theme; there are no other words used but Kyrie Eleison! Over and over this one theme is developed masterfully.
If you've ever heard this piece you cannot doubt that this universal cry for mercy leads us to the very threshold of true faith and knowledge. And this is not simply the preliminary introduction to something else. The sense of utter sinfulness that we innately feel is the foundation of all spiritual wisdom. This base is the sure foundation through which the mercy of God sounds into our soul. The subtle epitaph for a Christian in this Advent season is composed of only two words: "Jesu, mercy!" Sir Edwyn Hoskyns, a famous Cambridge minister, once said, "This is far more impressive, far more Christian, than a catalog of virtues, or of benevolent actions, or of intellectual achievements." How true.
In reality, the overwhelming recognition of human sin controls the entire Bible. "No understanding of our Lord's words and actions is possible," said Hoslyns, "if we persist in denying it."
Kyrie Eleison! Lord, have mercy! May this cry fill your Advent with hope and peace.