October 30, 2019
Scripture: Psalm 33:22
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Thought For the Day: Yesterday, I wrote about mercy. In the above Psalm the language of “steadfast love” is a translation of the Hebrew word Checed, often translated as mercy or merciful kindness. This Psalm is intriguing as it suggests something radical for that time in history. So often religion (in the ancient world, but even today in more subtle ways) has attached qualifications and conditions to the mercy and loving kindness of God. There was and is a lot of use the the word “if” when presenting the transaction between the divine and humanity. The institution of religion, the self-empowered gatekeepers of these divine gifts, likes to name and control the “If – then” configuration of the system. If you follow the instructions or do what is commanded of you or pay us a certain amount, then you will receive God’s Checed. It was a clear business deal, but this Psalm seems to begin to disrupt such thinking. The prayer of this individual is seeking God’s steadfast love (Checed) even while s/he is hoping (could be translated as waiting). The one praying is not offering to do something in exchange for God’s steadfast love and mercy, but is making a request during a period of hoping and waiting, during a time of delay and uncertainty. The one praying is offering nothing in this exchange which would have been a radical shift in how people perceive the nature of God. Jesus would continue to deconstruct systems of control, unleashing the power of unconditional love. It is interesting how the very followers of Jesus have reinstituted within the structures of community much of what Jesus dismantled with his life and teachings. I don’t want to suggest this is the greatest sin of humanity, but it sure appears to be one of our go-to failings. Jesus puts to rest any thought that love is conditional, and then people receive this marvelous gift and place a price tag on it.
Prayer: For the beauty that is your unconditional love and merciful kindness, O Lord, I am in awe. Keep my awe fully intact, for I fear that the power and generosity of your gift can so easily slip into a commodity that I will try to sell. Amen.
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