Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On the Theology of the Cross

The theology of the Cross is not about endless veneration of all that Jesus endured for us during his suffering and death on the cross.

Rather, the theology of the Cross is about how God is with us in the world, hidden, so to speak, in the places and situations we’d rather flee: suffering in the cause of the gospel, weakness, pain, failure, persecution, and yes, even death.

A vastly more popular theology is the theology of glory, which finds God in all the places the world loves: wealth, success, acclamation, popularity, beauty, power, and the powerful tribal feeling of “God’s on our side!”

But God comes into our world not with armies and emperors and impressive glory, but in infants who chant the divine praises in their wailing, and in the weakness and powerlessness of the marginalized and broken in order to actually be with us and help us. Only such a theology is a proper basis for the church. And it is what the liberation theologians in Central and South American were helping their people see and live.

“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
"He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." Matthew 8:17

Pray for the maturity to live your life without reliance on the fantasy of the “Man Upstairs” coming to bail you out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On the “Patience” of God

In the United States we habitually hear the Word of God as addressed to us individually, but in fact, from beginning to end, the Bible is a living word addressed to communities.

We can delude ourselves about our progress in the faith so long as we concern ourselves only with ourselves. As soon as others enter the picture, for example, my family, or my congregation, then another side of us explodes with all manner of ill-feeling, resentment, and most especially impatience. “Why won’t those people see things my way?!”

What we miss is how much God is putting up with—because of us! Because of me! Because of how irritated I quickly become over the disagreements and failures of others. Thus I become an expert on noticing the speck in my fellow Christian’s eye, while ignoring the log sticking out of my own.

“But since I was worse than anyone else, God had mercy on me and let me be an example of the endless patience of Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:16

Pray for the awareness of Christ’s endless patience with the world, your church, and you.

On Patience

On Patience
In the common lectionary of the church, we are in the year of Luke. Luke’s gospel addresses the issue of communities of faith maturing into faithful mission and service to the world.

It doesn’t take very long before anyone who attempts service and mission to the world to discover how difficult and often frustrating the work is. We make mistakes. Our expectations are too high, or misinformed. The response to our best efforts may be tepid; or, our best efforts may even be rejected. And if there is a positive response to what we have done, we then long for more of the same and become impatient with the ordinariness of our service.

The slog of mission and service can be joyful and mature only if we have patience. Bonhoeffer points out in, A Testament to Freedom, that faith and patience are closely related. He says that the “freer we are from ease and indolence and personal claims, the more ready we shall be for patience.” And, I would add, the more ready we are to receive joy in the midst of even the most challenging enterprise in the name of Christ.

“But as for [the seeds] in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.” Luke 8:15

Pray for the willingness to resign as general manager of the universe.

Pastor David Mullen, Bishop Emeritus of the Sierra Pacific Synod