Here is part of today’s Gospel, from St Luke: ‘Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbours and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.”’

The name John means ‘God is gracious’. This can be taken, in terms of the Biblical account, that God has been gracious in showing mercy to Elizabeth in enabling her to bear a son. But it can also be seen as referring to the whole breadth of the mercy of God towards us, in bringing about salvation through Jesus Christ, of which John is the forerunner. As the hymn expresses it, ‘There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea’.

May we know this ‘wideness of God’s mercy’ in our own lives today, and may God bless you.