On Monday, I came upstairs from a zoom call and our kids were elbows-deep painting at the kitchen table. We are only in December and winter activities to occupy these minions is already a stressor. They had dozens of papers spread out, with colorful works of art ranging from Christmas trees to abstractions crafted by the imagination of an almost-four year old. Around dinner time, we noticed another colorful canvas- our new curtains. Red paint at about hand height of same almost-four year old.
“I didn’t do it.” 🙄
We mustered up whatever kind of mercy we could find, not wanting to squash the creative vibes. At the same time...new freakin’ curtains! Lord have mercy for the words spoken as we scrubbed the fabric clean-ish.
Biblical translators often interchange mercy with loving kindness or steadfast love. The Hebrew word for this theological term is *hesed*. It is all over the psalms, “steadfast love and faithfulness will meet” (Psalm 85:10). The prophets are fond of it, too, “What does the Lord require of you, O mortal? Do justice, love mercy (loving kindness), and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). Much like the paint in our kitchen by way of our four kiddos, the loving kindness and mercy of God is playfully and irrationally splattered throughout the pages of Scripture. Hesed shows up not only in the form of God’s faithfulness to a people whose faith wavers, but also in the same people’s constant quest to mirror the steadfast love of God in their treatment of one another and the stranger. This merciful loving kindness is messy and not always rational; hesed makes room for forgiveness and shows up in creative and colorful spaces to wonder in the waiting. We are in just as much need of hesed as we are called to live into it. Where might you see this mercy? Where might you participate in it all the more? Thanks be to God for Immanuel, hesed in human form.
*Art by Mayah. Finger paint on construction paper (not curtain). 2020