Scandal. Do you watch it? This television show is a hit among some of my family and friends. I’ve see it a few times and, every week, the scandal on the show increases. The show tires to up the ante on what came before. The impossible, the unbelievable, and the shocking just keeps happening. The show is downright exciting.
Did you know that scandals are also at the center of God’s story? One way to sum up the two parts of God’s story that we proclaim is to see what’s scandalous in the Old Testament and what’s scandalous in the New. The Apostle Paul and the Gospels point to the cross as the scandal of the New Testament. The fact that God’s Son died just doesn’t make sense. Why would that happen? How can God die? Why would God live a human life? Why would we kill Jesus? These are the questions of the New Testament. The story is so familiar to us that we struggle to see how scandalous Jesus Christ is. But when we take a step back, look at what Scripture shows and tells us, the Cross is a scandal because, from our perspective, it doesn’t seem possible.
In the Old Testament (or Hebrew Scriptures as I sometimes call them), the scandal isn’t what people do. The scandal is that the God of the universe, the God that created everything, decided that the Israelites will be God’s people. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, with no power, or armies, or wealth. They had nothing yet God chose them to be God’s people. The Israelites never develop an empire, they never matched Rome or Alexander the Great or even the United States in wealth, power, and authority. But the Israelites are God’s people and God chooses to live with them.
So how can we respond to this scandal? In our first reading today, Solomon is dedicating the Temple as God’s house. His prayer can only point to the scandal and admit that God’s choice is beyond understanding. God’s promise to be with who God chooses doesn’t depend on what the people do. It only depends on God’s promise. And that’s who we are – a people who depend on God’s promise. We live through a God who lives with us and who died for us. We are, in someways, a scandalous people.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 5/15/2016.