Preacher: Chibuzo Petty
Scripture: Psalm 22
Please close your eyes. As you hear these words, imagine the scene that accompanies them.
“Oh my God, my God. Why have you forsaken me? Elahi, Elahi, lama sabachthani. My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?”
You can open your eyes. As a Christian, when I hear these words I cannot help but envision Jesus saying them crying out on the cross in Matthew 27: 46. It is important to note though that these words originally come.
Psalm 22, often referred to as the Psalm, the cross. Let us think about this question of why. In Matthew, Jesus asks this question in the midst of pain, and suffering. Scripture goes so far as to say he was cursed. Galatians 3: 13 reads Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree. David’s question, and Psalm 22 comes from a different perspective. But the two connect really well. David asks why a lot in the Psalms, he feels like God is withdrawn his presence he seems disoriented to be disoriented is to lose one’s sense of direction.
That’s why I think this question speaks to us so powerfully, today, much of my ministry has been with young adults, young adulthood is all about being disoriented. There are so many transitions transitioning from childhood, adolescence, adolescence to young adulthood from high school to college or to the workforce can be a scary time. But it can be an exciting time. From trivial relationships to long term ones, from being children, to having children. But it’s not only young adults who feel this the church as a whole and I’m meaning the big C church as well as our little slice of it, seem to be in this place. It’s a scary and exciting time to be the church in the face of declining membership, fewer young families participating in worship and the life of the church living in an increasingly secular and post Christian society. It is easy for us to feel disoriented, to feel scared, or even forsaken. I’m reminded of the praise song Jacob is sung for us a few times in the past months. Good, good father. You’re a good, good father. It’s who you are, to who you are. It’s who you are. And I’m loved by you, it’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am. When we feel disoriented, scared or even forsaken, we have to remind ourselves that these feelings come from the enemy and his counterfeit kingdom. We must live in the reality that God is good all the time. All the time. God is good. We are not forsaken sisters, brothers, siblings, in Christ we are loved. Do you believe that this morning? Le’ts pause, Will you pray with me? gracious, loving God in the midst of busyness in the midst of joy in the midst of pain in the midst of confusion, in the midst of certainty.
We pause we’re grateful for the stillness. We’re grateful for the opportunity to commune with you with each other despite our disparate places Be with us as we continue to explore this word
may it edify us, enrich us. Challenge us, compel us to mission for your glory, and yours alone. And then through Christ our Lord. And the people did say amen. But I am a worm, not a human scorned by others, and despised by the people, All who see me mock me, they make mouths at me they shake their heads commit your cause to the Lord, let him deliver let him rescue the One in whom he delights. In verses six through eight, we’re faced with a painful question. Is God there for our convenience? Do unbelievers see it that way? Do some of the church see it that way? Matthew 27: 39 and 43 Read those who passed by derided him shaking their heads, he trusts in God, God, deliver him now if he wants to, for he said, I am God’s Son.
Is this true of our culture? To this commentator, Derek Kinder wrote, God is no casual acquaintance. When you pray, is it only to ask for something? Do you seek God’s blessing only as much as you bless God? Verse 21, goes on to say, “save me, from the mouth of the lion, from the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.” This is a turning point. Thus far David has been alternating cries and prayer, but it’s going to writes, they give way to praise and to a broadening vision of God’s perfect rule. Verses 22 through 31 Give us our resolution. We believe in Christ we are spread joy, even though the song begins in such a challenging place in such a sad place, if you listen to brother Nate, as he read, end up in such a place of excitement, such a place of hope, such a place of exuberant, spacious joy.
Do you remember first Peter 3: 15. “But in your heart sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you and accounting for the hope that is in you.” Famous words, important words for us to remember we are the light of the world, a city on a hill we are called to freely invite others to the great banquet of our Lord. Verse 26 tells us that the poor shall eat and be satisfied. Those who seek Him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever the kingdom and I hope you hear this and know this and experience this this morning. The kingdom is boundless all the nations all the family’s future generations Psalm 22 starts with a cry of disorientation ends as we’ve already said, with praise and hope or rather assurance of deliverance. God’s purpose will not be for to proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn saying that he is done.
Saying that he has done it reminds me of it is finished. No, we’re in the middle of Easter-time having just moved through Holy Week on Thursday, Maundy Thursday we discuss the Exodus from Egypt and the biblical festival commemorating it still, to this day we discussed the people for whom this question of forsakenness is intimately important. But I assert here why I believe it is not only a scary but exciting time for a church that is inclusive of these persons. Look at the biblical foundation of the gathering, and the Ezra the Alien and the citizen. What makes a citizen it’s a contentious question even now, but remember numbers 9: 14 tells us “and if a stra nger a gare resides with you and wants to observe the Passover to the Lord, they are to do so according to the Passover statute. And its ordinances you are to apply the same statute to both the foreign residents and those born in land.” Exodus 12:28 similarly says “an ethnically diverse and ethnically diverse crowd also went up with them along with a huge number of livestock both flocks and herds.”
Remember, traditionally, brethren have practiced closed communion traditionally our love feasts have been exclusioning. I was fascinated I was delighted this past week to be able to participate in a love feast that invited all to the table to profess, a desire to be united with Jesus gotten in trouble for in some of my previous pastorates for inviting folks to the table heterodoxically without permission, as if a church board at ad council, a deacon, body is who gives permission to wash feet, to break bread, to come to the table, have we forgotten sisters, brothers, siblings in Christ, whose table it is?
Talking here and in Exodus about exploitation, the golden rule, Exodus goes on to say, “You must not mistreat any widow or fatherless child, if you do mistreat them, they will no doubt cry to me. And I will hear their cries, says the Lord, my anger will earn and I will kill you with the sword. Then your wives will be with us and your children fatherless.” It’s complicated, verse. For us in the historic peace church. Do you understand this? Who God is for? Who God calls us to be for. Do you understand this in the midst of our feelings of fear and forsakingnessI promise you, God promises you that God is good. God is still good. God is very ultimately and perfectly good. This is central to the message of Easter. It’s strange to me how this season it gets shortchanged in favor of advent. People get so excited about Christmas. And don’t get me wrong. Christmas is good. But it’s not Easter. It’s not even good Friday. Not even Maundy Thursday. I’m fairly convinced to see excitement has very little to do with Jesus and lots to do with the sentimentality of the season, time with family food, music, movies, and gifts.
None of those things are inherently evil. I enjoy those things. But without the cross and the resurrection, Even going back to Palm Sunday without the Triumph entry, Christmas doesn’t matter. Season is a perfect time to grow, to take our faith more seriously. Oh, through the Stations of the Cross, pray diligently for the church to get home around the dinner table of how to sacrifice what are you willing to sacrifice for Jesus? Are we fans or followers. Jesus said his followers were to live like Him. That’s pretty tall order, right?
Sure. living like Jesus means sacrifice, but it also means victory. Do you believe that we have a strong and mighty God, we serve a strong and mighty God. Amen. Amen. Close your eyes again. And listen to these words. Truth is lacking. And whoever turns from evil is despoiled. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one. he was appalled. There was no one to intervene. So his own arm brought him victory and his righteousness upheld and he put on righteousness like a breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head. He put on garments of vengeance, clothing, and wrapped himself in fury, as in a mantle, according to their deeds, so will he repay wrath to his adversaries, to his enemies. To the coastlands people render acquittal. So those in the West shall fear the name of the Lord, and those in the East His glory, for he will come like a pent up stream that the wind of the Lord drives on. And he will come to Zion, as Redeemer to those in Jacob, who turn from transgression says the Lord. And as for me, this is my cup, says the Lord, my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth or out of the mouths of your children, or the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord. From now on and forever.
Go ahead, Open. does this sound like Jesus? The day will be scary, not a good day for many for most. But for us I can trust that all will be well for us because God is a faithful God, God’s unfailing Love never ends. We must proclaim that God is good all the time and all the time God is good. But we can’t just say these things, we must believe them and actively live into that belief. It’s a common misnomer. People say we’re saved by faith, that’s a Protestant expression. And while that may be true, we misunderstand what faith means. The hearers of the gospel in the first century didn’t believe that faith was simply believing intellectually acknowledging Jesus was the Son of God. It was said in the Scripture, that even the demons in the pit of hell believe it, causes them to shutter with fear. So we might superstitiously say we’ve invited Jesus into our heart, that he’s our personal Lord and Savior, and we may be no better than the demons.
You hear that church? We must live out this belief, we must live into this belief in the midst of our suffering God is good in our trials and tribulation God is good though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death god is good even though we’ve been horrors and worshipped at the altar of lesser gods God is good that we relish in our comfort God is good that we may have physical pain, God is good or emotional pain, God is good that we may be marginalized because of the color of our skin God is good or the language that we speak God is good or where we were born God is good or what sex we were born God is good or the sex of our preferred partners God is good, no matter what our worldly or temporal circumstances God is indeed good. Great is thy faithfulness Great is thy faithfulness great is they faithfulness. This is not the end this is not the end of us God has got a blessing ready and waiting for us he’s already pre approved us for it and our obedience is the down payment. You see the devil thought… we know what the devil thought but Jesus could not be tempted. Jesus could not be contained.
It’s still Easter. Do you understand? Do you believe it? Friends it’s still Easter. The stone has remained rolled away the two remains so let’s celebrate. Be strong and courageous. Let’s see the church not only Thrive, not only survive, but thrive. What does it mean for us to get out of survival mode but actually thrive as a faith community. I look forward to exploring that with you over the coming months it’s been a joy to speak to many of you in person and on the phone about this very thing. Let us continue to ponder it. Sure, it’s gonna take work hard work, but the greatest story ever told men and the world needs it. The world needs us to be a light so let’s let Christ’s light shine through us. If you know this tune, feel free to join me as we close.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Friends. Don’t hide under a bushel basket. Amen. Amen.