Theology of the Cross: what does this mean for the Church’s and especially for this congregation’s life and mission?
A Tree on Your Back
1. We meet you, O Christ, in many a guise,
your image we see in simple and wise.
You live in a palace, exist in a shack;
we see you the gardener, a tree on your back.
2. In millions alive, away and abroad;
involved in our life, you live down the road.
Imprisoned in systems, you long to be free;
we see you, Lord Jesus, still bearing your tree.
3. We hear you, O man, in agony cry;
for freedom you march, in riots you die.
Your face in the papers we read and we see.
The tree must be planted by human decree.
4. You choose to be made at one with the earth;
the dark of the grave prepares for your birth.
Your death is your rising, creative your word;
the tree springs to life and our hope is restored..
–Fred Kaan, 1966
The cross of Calvary forms the ultimate type and reality of God’s characteristically hidden and paradoxical, sacramental presence in the commonest things, situations and people. Interpreting scripture, sacraments, everything in our lives and in the world with "What preaches Christ."
- Last week we talked some about God’s action and presence in the sacraments – considered a “means of grace” in this tradition – and began imagining ways we can be a means of grace in the world around us.
- It’s impossible to separate out today’s discussion topics, so I’ve suggested some texts and ideas to get us started.
A Theology of Baptism
Galatians 3:26-29; Titus 3:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Romans 6:1-14; Ephesians 4:4-6; Mark 1:4-11; Matthew 3:11-17; Luke 3:15-22
Theologian Jürgen Moltmann describes baptism as “sign, witness, representation and illumination of the Christ Event”; we can claim the same about the Eucharist. We know Jesus Christ as sovereign, prophet and priest; alive in Christ, we participate in that royal, prophetic priesthood. Especially in regard to those roles, how can our lives signify, witness to, represent and illuminate the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ?
We are baptized for events like 9/11; we are baptized to be the Christ alongside our friends, relatives and neighbors; we are baptized to not be an exclusive community, but to risk reaching out to image and model Jesus Christ to the world – including those who are culturally, ethnically, chronologically, occupationally, educationally different from us; to recognize Jesus Christ in others and to be the presence of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ in their lives.
A Theology of the Eucharist
1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Mark 14:22-25; Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:14-20; Luke 24:30-31; John 6:33; John 6:51; John 6:56
Jesus said, “Do this!” Do this liturgical action?
Jesus says, “I am the Bread of Life; I am the Vine!” In every culture, grain products form a substantial nutritional base; the grain may be rice, wheat, corn, wheat, barley...the fruit of the vine is a potent and pervasive biblical symbol, and beyond there and then, lately we’ve been learning a lot about grape’s benefits! In the power of the Holy Spirit, God calls the church—
- As the body of the risen Christ, the Bread of Life, to nourish the world, especially the stranger, the outcast and the ‘other’
- Like the Eucharist, to reveal Jesus’ crucified body in its redeeming brokenness
- To reveal Christ’s risen body in its liberating wholeness
- As branches of Jesus, the Vine, to pour out our lives to those around us
Galatians 3:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24: 44-49; Acts 1:6-8; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; 1 Peter 2:9-10
10. What does the cross mean for this church community?
From Water Buffalo Theology: Suffering because we’re involved with others, involved with the other; participating in the “glory of the crucified Lord”. My note: the same Paul of Tarsus also talks about “the glory of the children of God!” And isn’t our glory as God’s offspring also a crucified glory and a risen glory?
11. What does all of this mean for our nearby neighbors?
When I was on staff at the church in City of History, I wrote their Mission Statement:
We are the people of God, forgiven and set free by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; by the power of the Holy Spirit we are called together and sent into the world as witnesses to his resurrection. God calls us, a servant people, to proclaim in word and action the presence of the risen Lord to all those whom our lives touch, especially in this community.The author of Water Buffalo Theology talks about “neighborology”—the word about the neighbor! The Bible and Jesus Christ reveal God’s attachment to the world of creation to the point of learning and knowing us so completely as to walk in our sandals (Tevas, or flip-flops or boots or snow boots...) and to die a physical death, just as all of us inevitably will. Especially in the shadow of the cross, how can we practice neighborology?
© Leah Chang 2007