Preparing for Worship: Psalm 56

Preparing for Worship: Psalm 56

John Haralson   •   August 11, 2016

The Mocking of Christ, Gerrit van Honthorst (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


I have made a new world, where the servant is the King. 

Oppression will be over, and the slave set free. 

Sandra McCracken, Justice Will Roll Down, from the album Feast or Fallow 


Dear Friends,

For many years, well into my late-thirties, I had a recurring dream of taking a college history class. The bulk of the grade rested on a term paper that was due during finals week. The paper was supposed to be a serious work of research that required slow and steady progress all semester.

Each time I had the dream, I would procrastinate on the term paper. September would become October, and then October would become November. Inevitably, by the time Thanksgiving break hit, I would not have lifted a finger.

On the many occasions I had that dream, I would wake up in the morning in a cold sweat. After about thirty seconds, I would breathe a sigh of relief. I really wasn’t blowing off a significant project. It was just a dream.

Those types of dreams are so powerful because they tap into a fear we all havethe fear of looking foolish. 

We are all mildly horrified at the prospect of looking silly to our co-workers, to our peers, or to the people we are closest to. So, we work hard to stay on top of things in an attempt to keep our fears at bay. If we can, through competence or guile, manage to maintain the upper hand, we think we will be safe. Or, if we realize we can’t keep control of the situations we find ourselves in, we withdraw our true selves from the world so that people won’t see us.

One of the central themes of Jesus’ crucifixion was the fact that he was thoroughly mocked. He was thought to be a fool by the Roman soldiers, the Jewish religious leaders, and the fickle crowds. So, he was treated like a fool. They all, in essence, pointed at him and laughed.

But here is the thing: Through the crucifixion, God allowed himself to be mocked

As Peter Leithart has said in this helpful analysis, by embracing this mockery, Jesus did not allow our “No” to become the final word. Instead, he ‘turns the other cheek to us’ and receives our mockery. Through this act of loving foolishness, Jesus shows himself to truly be ‘God with us’.

his week: Psalm 56 & I Samuel 21:10-15, The Foolishness of Christ

Liturgy is here

I hope to worship with you.

Warmly in Christ,

John

 

PS This week, we will be hearing from Jennifer Browning of Union Gospel Mission about the new Women’s Shelter at First AME Church. There will also be a volunteer information meeting between services in Room 102. For much information, please contact Gabriela Ahern (gabriela@graceseattle.org).