Theology of the Cross

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S (Scripture): Psalm 10

11 

The wicked think to themselves:

    God has forgotten.

    God has hidden his face.

    God never sees anything!

O (Observation): The psalmist abhors the wicked, but sees through their naïveté. God knows the deeds of the good and of the wicked.

A (Application): Simply put, when the wicked enact evil, I lean on these kinds of verses to remind me that God is up to meting out justice in this world on behalf of all those struck down by the oppressors of this world.

This is known as a theology of the cross. God is always on the side of the oppressed and downtrodden. God is on the cross. And the victory is somehow still God’s.

P (Prayer): God, save us. You will. Amen.

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A True Welcome

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S (Scripture): Psalm 9

But the Lord rules forever!

    He assumes his throne

    for the sake of justice.

He will establish justice in the world rightly;

    he will judge all people fairly.

The Lord is a safe place for the oppressed—

    a safe place in difficult times.

10 

Those who know your name trust you

    because you have not abandoned

    any who seek you, Lord.

O (Observation): The Lord is a safe place for the oppressed. The psalms were written at many different times throughout the history of God’s people. Some were written in times of peace. Some were written in times of great struggle and adversity. This Psalm reflects one of those times of great adversity.

But a ray of hope keeps God’s people from despair. They trust that all who are oppressed and seek the Lord will find a home with God.

A (Application): The oppressed of our day are many: LGBTQ+, immigrants, those who receive abuse, mentally and physically challenged people, and more. The Church was known as a place of refuge for a long, long time, choosing to aid the oppressed in all places.

My hope is that all churches can be places of refuge for the oppressed, once again. May churches be places where all are welcomed with a true sense of welcome, not a bait and switch type of welcome. Just welcoming folks for who they are is the first and vital step to help them know that God wishes to have a relationship with them.

The challenge to change (or not) may come later on when one understands that grace is what saves us, not our own acts of penitence.

May the Church be a place of welcome for all oppressed people. Just as they are.

P (Prayer): Lord, help us to see others as you see us. Help us to welcome all. Amen.

Down in the Pit


S (Scripture): Psalm 22

11 Do not remain far away from me, for trouble is near and I have no one to help me.

12 Many bulls surround me; powerful bulls of Bashan hem me in.

13 They open their mouths to devour me like a roaring lion that rips its prey.

14 My strength drains away like water; all my bones are dislocated; my heart is like wax; it melts away inside me.

O (Observation):  This psalm is often applied to Jesus, as a foreshadowing of his suffering and death.  In fact, Jesus utters the words of verse 1 of this psalm (“My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?”)

Given its original context (applied to King David while his enemies are pursuing him), the reader can sense the desperation in the tone of this text.   The author (David?) truly feels despair, but trusts that somehow, God is still with him in his greatest moment of need.  

A (Application):  If we see a theme throughout the arc of Scripture, we see that God is with those who seem to be outnumbered and fearful.  God is with the marginalized and oppressed.   God wishes for all to call on Him, especially in times of need.

God doesn’t wish for anyone to feel outside of salvation, yet over time the Church (whether hundreds of years BCE, in the 1st century CE, or even today) finds ways to ostracize and build walls to separate the saved from the rest.  

This doesn’t mean that I support “anything goes” in terms of holding people accountable for their actions.  Rather, I mean to say that anyone and everyone is not far from salvation.  From the best to the worst (only the Lord can judge this) we are able to call out to God to save us.  

And sometimes, while down in that pit, when nothing seems to be going right, you just might find some gold buried down there.  You just might find that friends call on you, or maybe you finally let your guard down and trust completely in the Lord, or someone calls you or sends you a card out of the blue.   In those moments, may you know that God is with you, much more than we can be.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, pick me up when I am down.  Amen. 

God – source of all Goodness

  S (Scripture): Psalm 22:
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

O (Observation): The psalmist recognizes the source of his praise: God.  Sometimes, you just need a timeout to acknowledge the source of all goodness.  The one who will be filling and satisfying the oppressed, the one who has dominion…God.

A (Application):  Umm …thanks, God!   Really, thank you!  We will worship you and others will see our joy in you.   

P (Prayer):  Lord, thank you for everything!  We give you praise this day.  Amen.