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Psalm 50

A Second Chance for the Wicked

Today the word that stood out for me was, "wicked." God speaks to the wicked, rebuking them for their wickedness and challenging them to change their ways.

Of course, it reminds me of the brilliantly written and executed Broadway hit, "Wicked." In it, the well-known characters of "The Wizard of Oz" are re-imagined. The wicked witch, Elfaba, is rewritten to be a loving, but different, quirky, and misunderstood young student who is just trying to make her way in a world of sameness and judgment. What I love about this is that the traditionally black-and-white, shallow, one-dimensional "bad" character is given depth and dimension, including good and bad decisions, love and hate, and all kinds of beautiful, colorful personality traits. In short, the musical challenges the notion that there is any such thing as pure goodness and pure evil. (If you follow me, you know I am adamantly against the notion of "good" and "bad" people.)

I think God sees much more in us than our goodness or our badness. While God rebukes the bad behaviors, God also challenges us to do better. God gives us space and permission to grow from our mistakes. With the power and forgiveness of God, we can defy gravity. (See what I did there?)

Narrative Lectionary Text: Psalm 50

The mighty one, God the Lord,
   speaks and summons the earth
   from the rising of the sun to its setting. 
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
   God shines forth. 

Our God comes and does not keep silence,
   before him is a devouring fire,
   and a mighty tempest all around him. 
He calls to the heavens above
   and to the earth, that he may judge his people: 
‘Gather to me my faithful ones,
   who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!’ 
The heavens declare his righteousness,
   for God himself is judge.

‘Hear, O my people, and I will speak,
   O Israel, I will testify against you.
   I am God, your God. 
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
   your burnt-offerings are continually before me. 
I will not accept a bull from your house,
   or goats from your folds. 
For every wild animal of the forest is mine,
   the cattle on a thousand hills. 
I know all the birds of the air,
   and all that moves in the field is mine. 

‘If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
   for the world and all that is in it is mine. 
Do I eat the flesh of bulls,
   or drink the blood of goats? 
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
   and pay your vows to the Most High. 
Call on me in the day of trouble;
   I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.’ 

But to the wicked God says:
   ‘What right have you to recite my statutes,
   or take my covenant on your lips? 
For you hate discipline,
   and you cast my words behind you. 
You make friends with a thief when you see one,
   and you keep company with adulterers. 

‘You give your mouth free rein for evil,
   and your tongue frames deceit. 
You sit and speak against your kin;
   you slander your own mother’s child. 
These things you have done and I have been silent;
   you thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you. 

‘Mark this, then, you who forget God,
   or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver. 
Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me;
   to those who go the right way
   I will show the salvation of God.’

Earlier Event: July 12
Psalm 25
Later Event: July 14
Psalm 106