Joy–The Steadfast Mercy of God: a Reflection on Psalm 145:8-9, Isaiah 55:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21
The steadfast grace, that is kindness, that is mercy, of God is yours now! God is for you, not against you. The steadfast mercy of God cannot be earned. It just is! Can you say thank you to God for that unmerited grace, that is kindness, that is mercy?
One of my mentors, Brennan Manning, mostly through his books but also through several one on one discussions, greatest lesson to me was to always be aware of the impostor self; the self that I, along with many others, work so hard to nurture, love, redeem and protect. I am so grateful for Brennan’s words to stop loving the impostor more than the real Steve, the Steve God so wondrously and marvelously made. Brennan died in April 2013. I miss his courage, vulnerability, authenticity, and transparency. But I will never forget that life and my experience of it is all grace.
Imagine a barker in the carnival area of the State Fair or outside a nightclub calling out to the crowds to come and see the exciting, compelling, and riveting realities that wait behind the openings of the tents and the other side of the doors! Isaiah uses this concept of “a barker” to help us see that there is “…a God who seeks ardently and zealously to get…” our attention. Paul is overcome by grief and sorrow that his own people have not come to faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus had compassion on the 5,000. He took the few fish and loaves of bread he was given and multiplied them. Jesus loved and fed the people. It’s all grace, kindness, and mercy my friends.
The steadfast mercy of God is yours today. And the Table demonstrates that truth. The psalmist reminds us that God’s goodness and trustworthiness provides the bedrock for our belief that God’s mercy is always available to us. In the water and Word of baptism, we experience God’s goodness and trustworthiness, for Christ claimed you as his own. God came to earth in the person of Jesus for you. God’s steadfast grace, that is kindness, that is mercy is yours. Thus,
God’s promise and inheritance is yours;
You are adopted into God’s family;
You are recipients of great treasure and it’s valuable, because of the One who gives it;
God will not abandon you, because God has entrusted amazing gifts to you; and
God has called you to a life filled with purpose.
God graciously, kindly, and mercifully loves and cares for all of us. Are you excited about living? Or are you using every ounce of your energy capital, that is, mind, soul, and spirit simply to sustain life? We must reconcile ourselves to the truth of the Table. No matter what the circumstances in which you find yourself, nothing will separate you from the steadfast mercy of God. The process of coming to terms with reality without reality defining you is the process of discipleship. Brenda Salter McNeil, the author of Roadmap to Reconciliation, has committed her life to be a “barker,” a mentor, inviting people of all races to be reconciled and to live out God’s purpose of living a life of celebration, not exhaustion. McNeil writes,
Reconciliation is less about the destination and more about the journey. Therefore it’s important that we build monuments. We need to mark what we have done and the small accomplishments we’ve made along the way…We can easily become disillusioned and discouraged if the process doesn’t happen quickly, so these reminders of what God has done and the victories we have won will lend us encouragement and strength on the road to reconciliation.
The gift of reconciliation is the Christian’s mission. Every act of reconciliation is a monument. And that’s mercy.
Steven Michael Marsh, Facebook, July 30, 2014.
Wendell W. Meyer in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 3 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 291.
The ideas articulated above were gleaned from Mary Beth Anton in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 3 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 305, 307.
Brenda Salter McNeil, Roadmap to Reconciliation (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 114.