By parishioner, Matthew Bowles
2nd Week of Lent “God’s mercy endures forever…” Psalm 136:2
Whenever I read Psalm 136 I would skip over the phrase, “his mercy endures forever” because I thought it was repetitive, and I just wanted to get through reading it. Yet, when this psalm is sung it acts as a call and response. The African-American church is good at this worship style–people responding to God’s mighty acts. The psalmist is reminding us of God’s mercy in every moment. Mercy is God’s steady and loyal love to us no matter what our response is. Through the ups and downs of life, God is steadfast love to us. This psalm is a good one for Lent because it reminds us that no matter how far we roam or how good we think we are, God’s steadfast mercy has come first and will always be there for us. In John’s Gospel Jesus shows this kind of steadfast love to his disciples. John says, “When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Jesus then goes to the cross and sacrifices himself for us in order to rescue us from sin and death. We can’t earn God’s love; we are loved to the end by Jesus first. God’s mercy endures forever.
The second part of this psalm remembers the great Exodus that God performed for the Israelites by bringing them up out of Egypt. God is the great redeemer and liberator. Pastor Tom Fuerst reminds us that Israel is rescued from Egypt before there was the Law. Therefore, God’s mercy and love extended to them before Israel could obey any laws. Likewise, God’s love and mercy extend to us first before we can do anything for God. Fuerst says, “Our obedience flows out of God’s rescue; it does not create or justify our rescue” (Sermon- “Taking Egypt Out of Israel, 1/1/17). God’s mercy endures forever! God has been and will continue to be loyal to us, and we simply respond to God’s gracious mercy with holy love for God and others. We need this reminder especially in today’s world. We need this phrase in our heads to keep us going: “God’s mercy endures forever.” During Lent as we keep serving our neighbors, or battling sickness and disease, or fighting injustice, we must remember that we are not alone; God is loyal and God’s mercy endures forever.
Lenten Life-giving Discipline: Use that phrase “God’s steadfast love endures forever” in your prayer time this week.