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Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Chase Me Down

April 29, 2015

The following article appears on the cover of the May issue of the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church newsletter, Connections.

I emerged from the store into the sunlight, casually making my way back to my car. I wasn’t in a hurry and I didn’t have any of the children with me, so I was kind of zoned out, not paying much attention. So it was that it took me a minute to hear the voice yelling loudly from behind: “Sir! Sir! Wait just a minute.” Snapping out of my reverie, I turned and saw a fellow customer rushing after me, hand extended. Confused I looked, my eyes moving from my face to his hand – a hand that held my iPhone out to me. “I think this is yours – it looked like you dropped it.” And sure enough, I had. This was a moment of grace for me. The man didn’t owe me anything; perhaps he was in a hurry. He certainly didn’t know me. And yet he chose to not only pick up my fallen phone; he rushed out of the store in hot pursuit to make sure that I avoided the unpleasant fate of losing my phone which is, in so many ways, my lifeline to the world.

This past Sunday our psalm for the day was the one we know the best, good ol’ number 23. It is rife with images offering comfort: green pastures and still waters, the presence of the Shepherd while we traverse death’s dark vale, the spreading feast at the end of the journey. But another detail jumped out at me near the end. The psalmist sings, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” It’s a lovely image, but one that doesn’t quite do justice to the Hebrew language in which it was written. While “follow” isn’t a bad translation, “pursue” would be equally good: Goodness and mercy shall pursue me! God is the One who, while we aren’t paying attention, picks up what we needs and runs after us until he gets our attention. Our eyes travel from his face to his hands, bearing not items but wounds. Wounds willingly earned for our sake, so that we would know the abundant goodness and mercy of a God who will not rest until he has reclaimed each of his sheep and restored us to the abundant and eternal life in store for us.

In this Easter season we celebrate the great lengths to which God has gone to chase us down. He has come from heaven to earth, from the upper room to the cross, from the depths of hell to the empty tomb and out into the whole world. All to chase you down and, like a shepherd tossing a sheep over his shoulders, to bring you home. Thanks be to God! As sheep who have been pursued, chased down until we’re found, we now join in the work of the Shepherd. Our gracious calling is to live a life marked by the peaceful, good, and merciful life entrusted to us. How will we live out such abundance? It begins, I suppose, in living peacefully with one another as fellow sheep. It bears itself out in the marks of discipleship we’ve noted before: prayer, worship, the reading of scripture, service, relationships, and giving. These are the ways of life that mark one’s life as a sheep, a disciple of Jesus Christ.

There is so much to celebrate at St. Peter’s that marks us a sheep. From Pioneer Clubs to Backpack Buddies, Harvest of Grace Café to St. Peter’s Lutheran School. During this season of Easter I am particularly thankful for the way in which you have been living out the sixth mark of discipleship, giving. Our financial situation has greatly improved; we were even able to make our full first quarter benevolence gift of $8,080 to the SC Synod as approved at our April Council meeting. We will be encouraging further giving, because sheep who have been found are always looking for ways to give; those of you who, for whatever reason, were not able to make a pledge toward our current Growing In Grace debt reduction program will be invited to do so. I encourage you to prayerfully consider a gift. But most of all I want to encourage you to remember that you have been found, chased down by the Shepherd who will never let you go.

Christ is risen indeed – Alleluia!

Pastor Dave

From → Odds and Ends

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