FOR TODAY As mentioned, our revival will feature the dynamic duo of Bishop Curry and Bryan Stevenson. Today we consider a quote from Mr. Stevenson that draws out the multi-faceted dimensions of being “merciful” and desiring mercy for others. We have heard God say to us in scripture: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice." (Matthew 9:13) The Message version of the Bible actually paraphrases that verse this way: “Go figure out what this Scripture means: I’m after mercy, not religion. I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” We can understand the sharp edge of this paraphrase as Jesus continuing the rebuke of the prophets (see Hosea 6:6) where an excess of focus on worship means the exclusion of acts of mercy and kindness. In his book, "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption," Stevenson helps us to see specifically the power of "being merciful" here: "We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. I desperately wanted mercy for Jimmy Dill and would have done anything to create justice for him, but I couldn’t pretend that his struggle was disconnected from my own. The ways in which I have been hurt—and have hurt others—are different from the ways Jimmy Dill suffered and caused suffering. But our shared brokenness connected us." It is out of our shared brokenness as human beings that we can be awakened to a true desire for mercy not only for ourselves but for others. Such a desire stems from a love that manifests in wanting the best for someone else, truly desiring wholeness and abundant life for him/her beyond any estimation of worthiness. It is so easy for mercy to remain an abstract concept for us, an ideal. It is much harder for us to recognize our own connectedness as people of God and to willingly manifest the compassionate mercy necessary for us to fulfill our Baptismal Covenant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION When have you longed deeply for mercy for someone else? In what ways did you participate in seeking mercy on behalf of him/her/them? How has your own experience of mercy formed your "respect for the dignity of every human being"?
MERCY This week we focus on mercy, a word we use frequently in religious contexts or even colloquially: “mercy me, Lord have mercy!" Such common usage can sometimes dilute the true depths of this word. Being “merciful” is a quality attributed to God and one that God asks of us in return. We will explore various aspects of this attribute and its impact on our relationships in the coming week. Find all previous daily devotionals here