Psalm 70

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me.
   O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and confusion
   who seek my life.
Let those be turned back and brought to dishonour
   who desire to hurt me.
Let those who say, ‘Aha, Aha!’
   turn back because of their shame.

Let all who seek you
   rejoice and be glad in you.
Let those who love your salvation
   say evermore, ‘God is great!’
But I am poor and needy;
   hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
   O Lord, do not delay!

“The State of Texas has refused to listen to God’s children.”

These words may seem like they came from the mouth of a preacher or evangelist down here in the South. In fact, they came from Licho Escamilla, a person who was executed on October 14, 2015. My heart gently wept as I read those words for the first time. It was just weeks before his pending execution that I spoke with a United Methodist minister who knew Licho’s family and shared the agony and pain the family was experiencing and anticipating.

During this Lenten season, we will soon read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. For some, Good Friday can be the toughest day as we imagine the pain and torture Jesus endured. Jesus’ words on the Cross remind me of these words in Psalm 70, profusely begging for God’s mercy. And yet there’s a stark difference, for David he begged for mercy for himself, while Jesus begged for mercy for those next to him on crosses.

Make no mistake, we may not be in the business of crucifying Jesus in modern times, but we are still crucifying folks who resemble the other two persons on the crosses. I remember last year when I was speaking with an attorney from ACLU after he spoke of the progress being made in abolishing the death penalty. His last words inspire me still, “When we abolish the death penalty, it will be because Methodists led the way.”

May we be followers of Jesus who seek justice and work towards collective liberation and life for all! 

 A Season of Becoming: Restoring and being restored for the transformation of the church and world

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