Theology of the Cross: what does this mean for the Church’s and especially for this congregation’s life and mission?
Here we will take the wine and the water;
here we will take the bread of new birth,
here you shall call your sons and your daughters,
call us anew to be salt for the earth.
Give us to drink the wine of compassion;
give us to eat the bread that is you;
nourish us well, and teach us to fashion
lives that are holy and hearts that are true.
Marty Haugen, Here in This Place/Gather Us In, © 1982 GIA Publications, Inc.
I, the Lord of font and cup,
covenant to lift you up.
Splash the water, break the bread; pour out your lives.
Faithfully my love you’ll show,
so their hearts will always know,
They are mine eternally...
© Linda LeBron, 2002
Theology of glory vs. theology of the cross: Theologians of the cross build their theology in the light of God’s own revelation of himself, particularly God’s self-revelation in Christ crucified. The cross of Calvary forms a paradigm and model for God’s characteristically hidden and paradoxical, sacramental presence in the commonest things, situations and people.
•Interpreting scripture, sacraments and everything in our lives and in the world with “What preaches Christ.” Especially look for God’s hidden yet apparent presence and for “Types of Christ.” Imagine the classic attributes of God through the lens of the cross!
8. The Cross and the Sacraments
Study Catechism of the Presbyterian Church (USA), 1998
Question 70. What is the main difference between baptism and the Lord’s Supper?
While I receive baptism only once, I receive the Lord’s Supper again and again. Being unrepeatable, baptism indicates not only that Christ died for our sins once and for all, but that by grace we are also united with him once and for all through faith. Being repeatable, the Lord’s Supper indicates that as we turn unfilled to him again and again, our Lord continually meets us in the power of the Holy Spirit to renew and deepen our faith.
a. 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.
In baptism, God and the church claim us in covenant...baptized, we live reborn into the water of Jesus’ birth and we are alive in the fire of his death—the transforming, rebirthing power of the cross. As a baptized people, we no longer live under the reign of death, its idols and its artifacts, but in the alternative community countering the individualisms of covetousness, greed, commoditization, consumption, superfluity, satiation, and (ultimately) despair.
b. A Theology of the Eucharist
1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Mark 14:22-25; Matthew 26:26-29 ; Luke 24:30-31; John 6:33; John 6:51; John 6:56
Jesus said, “Do this!” Do this liturgical action? In the Eucharist, the entire church and all creation in every age and time comes together; this is an action of the whole, entire church! Farmers, vintners, truckers, weavers, potters, storekeepers, builders, bakers, more... Moltmann said Christ’s invitation is prevenient. William Stringfellow says (paraphrased, from An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land) the Bread and Cup are “tokens of the Resurrection” and these “tokens...are discerned as the Word of God indwelling all creation and transfiguring human history.” Martin Luther: the ubiquity of the risen and ascended Christ.
- Recall Israel and desert manna, enabling God’s people to live precariously in the wilderness
- Bread = nourishing = body that is broken unto death and raised to new life
- Christ’s body = revealed in the breaking of bread / body
- Church = Body of the risen Christ = nourishing the world, especially the stranger, the outcast and the ‘other’
- Church / reveals Jesus’ crucified body in its redeeming brokenness
- Church / reveals Christ’s risen body in its liberating wholeness
Heidelberg Catechism, 1563
Question 76. What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ?
It is not only to embrace with believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; but also, besides that, to become more and more united to his sacred body, by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us; so that we, though Christ is in heaven and we on earth, are notwithstanding “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone” and that we live, and are governed forever by one spirit, as members of the same body are by one soul.
The Holy Supper...but it means more. Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us, we are united more and more to Christ’s blessed body. And so, although he is in heaven and we are on earth, we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit, as members of our body are by one soul.
© Leah Chang 2007