Fourth Sunday in Lent
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow [us] all the days of [our lives].”
Our modern Bibles offer us wonderfully seditious alternatives. Superscripted with notes at the bottom or in the margins, our Bibles give us access to alternative translations, and therefore, alternative interpretations and understandings. This gray area infringes on our quest for certainty. Surely God wills clarity rather than uncertainty.
I appreciate the personal promise Psalm 23 declares: Surely, the Lord will lead me, restore me, comfort me. I prefer the inclusivity of the plural: The Lord will surely lead us, restore us, comfort us.
If we read into verse 6 the Hebrew alternative, surely becomes only. Only goodness and mercy shall follow us. I believe in the fundamental goodness of God for all God’s creation and creatures. I believe in the fundamental mercy that God offers to me, to us, to all, to each and every. However, I have also experienced enough of life to know the empty promise that only goodness and mercy shall follow us. Living is too complex, too dangerous, too risk-filled for only goodness and mercy to follow us. Pain, doubt, alienation, grief, anxiety, bitterness, and despair follow us just as closely as goodness and mercy. To expect only goodness and mercy sets up a false reality of faith.
But, surely, we should expect goodness and mercy to come from a good and merciful Savior. With a degree of confidence, we should expect goodness and mercy to follow us. Through this Lenten journey, search for the goodness and mercy of God. It is here. It is there.
Kerry Krause, pastor
Sister Bay Moravian Church
Sister Bay, Wisconsin