Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud. (Psalm 123:3-4)
"More than enough," is an apt description of what many people are feeling in our country and world at the moment. More than enough COVID-19. More than enough social unrest. More than enough violence and injustice. More than enough fighting and misunderstanding. More than enough contempt and judgment and condemnation. More than enough incivility and disrespect. We have had enough. We don’t need more anxiety, worry, suffering, and grief.
"Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us," and teach us to be merciful with each other. United Methodists – Methodists, Evangelical, United Brethren – have long been committed to peace with justice, demanding great empathy, compassion, generosity, and sacrifice. Our commitment has been to the betterment of the world, to the salvation and well-being of the most vulnerable and oppressed, and to creating sustainable systems for equality, equity, and fairness. We have not always been successful, but these have been core values and guiding principles for what it means to be a United Methodist Christian.
Our world simply does not need more hostility, more gossip, more lying, more cheating, more disrespect (especially of women and people of other races and cultures), more economic disparity, more oppression, and more violence. As the incarnate body of Christ, we must not contribute to the problems of this world, but offer solutions and alternatives that reflect the very kingdom/kind*dom of God. We cannot wait for some far-off day in the future. We have had enough! The time is now! We need to heal. We need to support. We need to uplift. We need to honor. We need to celebrate.
God offers us all we need. Colossians 3:12-15 comes to my mind. Following a list of things we should not do (Paul’s way of saying enough), he says,
"As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful."
As we prepare our hearts and minds to enter the Advent season in this very weird and challenging new reality, I invite us all to meditate on Paul’s invitation. Use Paul’s list as a daily devotion – a checklist, if you will – of this positive response to “enough!”
Gracious and loving God, we have had all we can stand of unkindness, division, and strife. We seek a healing balm, a loving grace, and a uniting Spirit. Help us to become agents of your binding grace. Help us to set aside that which does harm, enabling more capacity and opportunity to do good. We ask this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).