Warm Lenten greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! As we prayerfully and reflectively move towards Passion Week and the Easter celebration of Christ’s resurrection, we are reminded there can be no resurrection without the cross.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1).
Psalm 22 is considered the greatest messianic psalm concerning the cross. This psalm provides a prophetic, first person singular account of our redeemer’s physical suffering on the cross, hundreds of years before the Romans invented crucifixion. It is an incredibly detailed narrative reinforced by the gospel accounts of the Lord’s death.
However, we know the suffering of Jesus went much further than even the physical horror of crucifixion, because he bore our guilt and shame and was forsaken by his father for us. He faced abandonment, the guilt of sin, and the wrath of God, to the point that he says, “I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.” (Psalms 22:6)
Certainly this Psalm speaks to the importance of trusting God even in the midst of our lowest points and the most desperate of life’s “why” questions. Our savior, lord, brother and friend leads the way for us because even after asking the ultimate “why” question in the first sentence of the psalm, he trusts God to deliver him. (Psalms 22:4-5, 9)
This past year our world has known low points unique to this generation. Many of us have family and friends who have suddenly died or become very sick, experiencing a long, excruciating road to recovery.
Others have known the loss, uncertainty, and disorientation of being exiled from the place and people they have been called to serve, and almost all of us have known the pain of loneliness and separation from loved ones.
In Psalm 22 we see Jesus trusting his father because he knows the beginning and the end, so he cries out “why have you forsaken me” at the start (Psalms 22:1) and “he has done it,” literally “it is finished,” at the very end. (Psalms 22:31) What begins in despair, ends with a great cry of victory.
In JI Yajie’s blog series “Understanding God’s Work in the New Normal” he reminds us that Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel showed the same kind of trust in the plan of God for the ages long before the mysteries of Christ would be revealed to the world. As JI notes in “An Unchanged Endeavor in Changing Times“:
1. They fully trusted God’s sovereignty in the changes of the world. They believed that God was extending his plan across all nations and was not confined to the promised land. They held firmly to the hope that God would execute his plan at his time.
2. They endeavored to keep their spiritual purity while leading their kinsmen to turn back to God.
In short, the prophets had a “bifocal view” which kept both a “far-sighted perspective of the mission of God and caring for the near neighbor and kinsman before their eyes.”
In Christ, we ultimately trust in the same realities that he did on the cross:
- “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” (Psalms 22: 24)
- Christ’s victory on the cross would lead to people all over the world turning “to the Lord.” (Psalms 22:27). “All the nations will bow down before him.” (Psalms 22: 27b)
- His righteousness will be proclaimed, “declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!” (Psalms 22:31)
Whatever hard, life questions we have currently placed before him, may we all know his fresh grace and presence as we worship our crucified and risen Lord this Easter.
Ways to Pray
- Prayer for China and the Chinese church is a top priority for ChinaSource. Pray with us that we will be faithful in prayer for our brothers and sisters in China and that the Lord will raise up many more intercessors and prayer initiatives on behalf of the Chinese church worldwide.
- Char Kennicutt concluded her full-time work with ChinaSource on February 28. We will continue to keep in close touch as she is a dear friend and will continue to volunteer with ChinaSource. Pray for God’s blessing on Char in the next chapter he has for her.
- We continue to praise God for our new donor relations manager, Peter Arneson, and that his onboarding process has gone well.
- We are thankful that the search for a senior administrator is going well. Pray with us that we will have an encouraging announcement to make about a new colleague in next month’s Lantern.
- ChinaSource is in the midst of a strategic planning season. Pray for the ChinaSource staff, board, and volunteer network that we will hear from, and follow our Lord’s will and plan.
News and Notes
For Confucian thinkers, shame is an essential element required for moral development. This understanding is foreign to most Westerners. Yet, does shame have a place in Christian theology? Is it something to get rid of or might it have a role in shaping our character?
This webinar will explore the diverse ways that honor and shame affect our moral decision making as well as Paul’s use of these ideas within his letters.
Date: March 24, 2021
Time: 1:00 PM (US Central Daylight Time)
Presenter: Jackson Wu
Registration is free
We want to announce a new resource on the ChinaSource website, called “ResearchShare.” To find out more, see the recent announcement post telling how we hope this resource will be helpful to you. Do take a moment to explore this new resource. And, maybe, consider offering some of your own research.
In this video interview Dr. Jesse Ciccotti talks with Dr. Joshua Brown about his monograph Balthasar in Light of Early Confucianism, published by University of Notre Dame Press in 2020. Joshua Brown, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Theology at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland.
On February 25, ChinaSource joined the US-China Catholic Association and the China Academic Consortium in co-sponsoring a public lecture: “The Vessel Overturned: Current Views on Hong Kong Christian Civic Life,” presented by Dr. Lida Nedilsky. A recording of the lecture will be made available at a later date.
In Case You Missed It
A selection of recently published items:
- Chinese Young People Seek to Improve Their Futures, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), March 16.
- ResearchShare—A New Resource from ChinaSource, ChinaSource Blog, March 15.
- National People’s Congress 2021, ChinaSource Blog, March 12.
- Leap: A Film Review, ChinaSource Blog, March 10.
- A Chinese Pastor’s Perspective on Church of the Almighty God, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), March 09.
- Daniel—A Model for Hong Kong in Creating Shalom, ChinaSource Blog, March 08.
- Free Webinar: “Confucian Shame in Christian Thinking”, ChinaSource Blog, March 05.
- A Book about Balthasar and Why You Should Read It, ChinaSource Blog, March 03.
- China’s Churches Celebrating the New Year, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), March 02.
- Mao’s Black Box: Resilience and Religious Revival in Wenzhou, ChinaSource Blog, March 01.
- Changchun!, ChinaSource Blog, February 26.
- End of an Era? ChinaSource Blog, February 24.
- Rebirth in the Barracks, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), February 23.
- The Life and Ministry of Eric Martin Ekvall, ChinaSource Blog, February 22.
- APU’s MA TESOL $6000 Scholarship, ChinaSource Blog, February 19.
- Conference on English Language Teaching, ChinaSource Blog, February 17.
Image credit: Jonathan E. Shaw via Flickr.
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