Mercy is not merely feeling sympathy. Mercy is extended by one who has the power to condemn or punish but chooses not to. We choose not to criticize, not to say, “I told you so,” not to exact our “pound of flesh” — not to avenge. As Jesus shows us in his interaction with the woman caught in adultery, mercy does not look back at what the person has done but forward to what the person can do in the future. – Mary Lou Redding. The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes
Christ have mercy on me,
I have failed to love as You Love
I have treated others as objects and obstacles
– less than human
– less than made in the image of God
I have elevated goals, persons, and things to the throne of my heart
I have procrastinated
I have wasted your precious gifts of time and talent and money
I am proud in unhealthy ways
I am apathetic
I have raised myself too high
Hid myself too low
Trusting in you and your promises
I call on your Mighty Name for mercy
I ask your forgiveness, Gracious Savior
I surrender to your healing, Great Physician
I claim your resurrection power, Risen One
You are already here
Calling me from the old to the new
Speaking my name
Welcoming me to table
Hallelujah! I will follow…
Based on Matthew 9:9-13, The Call of Matthew
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Jesus said, “Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Son of God
Your love is Fierce and Forever
Abounding and Intimate
Generous, Goodness, and Grace
Fill me with your Spirit
Make me your love
It is your command
It is your way
It is your gift
It is You and your work
Yes, make me your witness
And yes, make me your will
But first and always, make me your love
What extent are you willing to go to in order to belong?
Staying on the track team in Middle School even though I came to realize I hated running
Buying the latest- saving for a pair of Candie’s shoes in middle school and now the latest face cream
Yoyoing in weight since I was age 7
Staying silent in a conversation even though I disagreed or had a different idea to solve the problem
What extent are you willing to go to in order to belong?
Go into debt to keep up appearances
Keep a crazy busy schedule because busy people are wanted people
Or the kids have to be well rounded to get into college
Keep on going to the bar even though you know you have a drinking problem and shouldn’t be there but the bar where everybody knows your name
Stay in the abusive relationship
Hide who you really are or at least try to
The evil one loves to keep up distracted and divided
McBean is the real enemy of the Sneetches. The real villain. He delights in exploiting the Sneetches’ lack of trust in one another. He has a heart of war. The Sneetches are a means to his greedy end. McBean perpetuates and manipulates the waste of time, energy, and money in order to prove who is in and who is out when there’s really no such thing.
Jesus invites us to turn all this waste and destruction and division on its head. It is so important to Jesus that he dies for it.
Galatians 3:23-29 talks about clothing ourselves with Christ. Imagine all the stuff we put on in order to belong. How others label us. The things advertisers say will make us belong. Things we believe we have to do in order to belong. We put it all on and cover up who we really are.
Taken to an extreme, it’s the stars the Nazi’s made the Jews wear in order to label them other. It’s why Dr. Seuss picked stars for this story.
In Christ, we’re invited to take it all off. Take off all the things that hide us and label us because now we’ve put on Christ. Here we stand. This is how God now sees us and how we now see each other, through putting on Christ.
And so the question we asked at first- What extent are you willing to go to in order to belong – is turned on its head because Christ went to the extent of death on the cross so we could belong. Just as we are.
The new question is this: What extent are you willing to go to in order to ensure everyone knows belonging in Christ? So that you know it and the person sitting next to you and the person you see in the grocery store and the person at the bank and your neighbors and your kids know it. So the folks who are very very different from you know it.
General Conference: The decision-making body of the United Methodist Church, the General Conference, has gathered to discern God’s call regarding sexuality, inclusion, and the unity of the Body of Christ. Hold in your prayers the delegates, the whole church, the millions of people in the LGBTQ+ community who feel the heat of the spotlight, and the world that may learn something about God.
The following prayer is by Steve Garnaas Holmes. It contains some small adaptations.
God of love,
may we approach one another with the intent to love,
first and last,
and submit all our intentions to love.
May our intent be to heal, not to win,
to bless, not to curse,
to join, not to divide.
Help us do your will, not ours.
May we listen humbly, speak honestly and discern obediently.
Save us from justice without mercy,
righteousness without humility, victory without love.
As your word says,
If we do not have love we are nothing. —1 Corinthians 13.2
May we examine our own righteousness more vigorously than others’.
May we demonstrate your goodness, not our own.
May we honestly examine our norms and expectations,
our judgments of those who are different,
our exclusion of those who threaten our superiority
and our comfort.
May we be mindful of every person’s wounded need
to be loved, to be included, to be honored,
every person’s desperation to be good enough to belong.
May we remember your justice is love,
your command is mercy,
your judgment is grace.
God of love, give us wisdom that is love,
fill us with courage that is love,
empower us for victory that is love alone.
By your Spirit help us to do no harm,
to do all the good we can,
and to stay in love with you.
We pray in the love and the company of Jesus,
who served in love, who died for love,
and who rises in us with victorious love
and who clothes us with belonging and love
If you have never known a place of belonging, you can know it here in God’s family. This is where I found it. You can find it, too. Think about all the folks in your life searching for belonging, for someone who understands and listens, for unconditional love, searching for God. Remember them as well.
Mark 6:1-5, The rejection of Jesus He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.
Contempt is so painful
To be dismissed, disregarded
Questioning instead of dignity
Accusation instead of personhood
I have felt its sting and hollowness
As have you, my Jesus
Heal my wound
I have wielded this weapon fully conscious of its destructive power
You never have, my Jesus
Forgive me and heal all I have hurt
Make my ways like yours, my Jesus
Deliver me from a spirit of judgment, criticism, and contempt
Help me hear their needed messages
Help me see all as you see them, beloved, and needed
Especially those who are hard to love
I am most ashamed of aiming contempt at you, my Jesus
I am so very sorry
Forgive me, renew me, abide in me so there is
More of my true me
More of you and your ways
More of your grace extended through me
For the healing of the world
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Growing in Resilience
Day 10, Read Isaiah 49
Reflection: Lead On, based on Isaiah 49:6
It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.
This is the glory of your saving love
That you don’t just bless us
Guard and guide us
That you don’t just forgive us
Save and sanctify us
For you, that is too light a thing
You make a place for us in your saving work
You call us and empower us
Each of us
You make a place for us in your family and a place for us in your plan
that we might experience your power and the wielding of that power
that we might experience the fullness of your grace
The glory of your saving love is
Your hope and your hope made real in the world
Your love and your love in action
Glory to you, Most Blessed Savior!
Glory to you, Lord of Mercy and Light!
Glory to you and to the fulfillment of Your Kingdom
in us and in all!