Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Foolish Cross

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - Week of 1 Lent
Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, Educators, 1964, 1904

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 953)
Psalms 45 (morning)        47, 48 (evening)
Genesis 37:12-24
1 Corinthians 1:20-31
Mark 1:14-28

"For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength." (1 Cor. 1:25a)

Paul addresses head-on the obstacle that makes his proclamation difficult for many to believe -- the cross.  Why would anyone worship someone who was executed as a capital criminal?  It's like someone today saying our God died in an electric chair.  The Rabbis will tell you that the scripture says "cursed be any one who hangs on a tree." (Dt. 21:23)  The cross is the Roman solution to threat to order from rebels and insurrection.  Some Greeks will speak of the impassibility of God.  Why would anyone worship a God who is subject to the vicissitudes of  human life?  God should not suffer?  God is beyond change.  God on a cross.  Scandal and foolishness.

But among those who were not "wise by human standards" or "of noble birth," among "the weak" and the "low and despised," this story that God enters into our deepest despair and pain and overcomes it is "wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption."  It flips on its ear the elitist projections about God.  God is with us in our most desperate times.  God soaks up evil and violence; God endures injustice and cruelty; God experiences pain and abandonment -- and God answers with nothing but love. 

Dorothy Sayers says it nicely:  "God did not abolish the fact of evil.  He transformed it.  He did not stop the crucifixion.  He rose from the dead."

For those who are looking for a powerful, triumphant tribal Lord who overcomes our enemies with might and violence, this weak God looks foolish.  For those who are looking for some pure heavenly escape from the change and sufferings of this world, this vulnerable God looks foolish.  But for those of us who are weak and low, in despair and pain, this is a God who understands.  This is a God we can trust because God knows what we are suffering.  This God gives meaning to suffering.  And when you are miserable, it makes all the difference if you believe that God is with us and that God uses our human misery to heal the world.  It is the wise foolishness of the cross.

Lowell

Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
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About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html --  Click for Divine Hours

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

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