And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. . . .’ For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:35,37b
Most scholars believe Mary was likely between 12 and 16 years old when the angel Gabriel was sent by God to greet her with a stunning message. Not a surprise, however, at any age, that Mary was both troubled by Gabriel’s greeting and ready with a follow up question, once he had explained her mission and God’s purpose through Jesus. When Mary asked, “How can this be?” Gabriel filled in only some of the blanks.
In “Nothing Is Impossible with God,” the November 30 devotional entry of Biola University’s Advent Project, Alea Peister writes: “God’s power always exceeds our ability to understand. . . .” She continues:
“Overshadow” is an unusual verb, one that we tend to skip when we attend to this passage’s declaration of the exceeding power of the Highest. But it is important to note that Gabriel does not tell Mary that God will respond to her incomprehension by explaining things, or making her happy, or easing her experience of that to which she is called. Instead, in answer to her confusion, Gabriel tells Mary that God’s power will overshadow her. . . .
Thus, the promise Mary receives is not that God’s exceeding power will make her life easy, understandable, or painless. Instead, she is promised that He will bring her to the very edge of herself every day. She is promised that God’s power will cover and uphold her precisely there.
Indeed, Mary would soon learn from Simeon at Christ’s purification at the temple in Jerusalem, that God’s plan included the fact that Mary’s son, who would be a “light of revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:32), would also “be appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” Luke 2:34-35.
Mary, God’s “favored one,” would be taken to the edge where the Lord would meet her, even as her son, the Second Adam, would sacrifice his life for the nations.
Over the past two years, many inside and outside of mainland China who serve Jesus and the Chinese church, have been stretched to the very edge of their capacity to understand the hows and whys, and have been met and “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s plan for the ages surpasses our capacity to completely perceive it. Even so, when we don’t understand, are inadequate, or unable, the same Holy Spirit who graced and blessed Mary, continues to meet his people. Or, as Scott Wesley Brown sings:
When answers aren’t enough there is Jesus
He is more than just an answer to your prayer
And your heart will find a safe and peaceful refuge
When answers aren’t enough, he is there
Alea Peister concludes:
Mary’s astonishing example of faithfulness consists, at least in part, in the readiness with which she consents to be overshadowed; to inhabit—in every moment from her son’s conception to her own death—realities she cannot possibly comprehend and, in so doing, to trust that God is with her . . . . May we then be like Mary. When the power of the Most High overshadows us, when God calls us to vocations that require us to inhabit what we do not know, and can never understand or express, may we humbly say, with the mother of our Lord, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word.”
May you know the grace and favor of our Lord Jesus Christ, especially at the edges this Christmas and in 2022!
Ways to Pray
- Praise the Lord that two close friends of ChinaSource have each put forward matching funds of US$50,000 to match any gifts provided to ChinaSource in November and December up to US$100,000. We are about halfway toward reaching the US$100,000 goal. Thank the Lord with us, that each gift arriving this season is being doubled and pray with us that the full matching challenge will be met.
- Looking back on 2021 we want to thank the Lord for a fruitful, breakthrough year and for the privilege of serving in a community of dear friends who are committed to one another and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom in China and globally.
- Pray for the ChinaSource team as each person is heavily involved in end-of-year activities and ministries. Pray we finish 2021 well.
- Pray with us for God’s year-end provision that will help us to follow God’s calling and vision for ChinaSource in 2022.
News and Notes
ChinaSource Matching Challenge
While initially having one donor offering a US$50,000 match, we are very thankful to now have two donors providing a combined matching challenge where all funds raised by the end of the year are being matched up to US$100,000! This is a tremendous opportunity and a wonderful time to make a gift.
Give today and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar.
ChinaSource Annual Report
ChinaSource President, Kerry Schottelkorb, in his opening statement, says:
As you read through this annual report, I hope you will be encouraged that God is moving mightily throughout the Chinese church, both in the mainland and the Chinese diaspora, and he is lovingly and patiently including ChinaSource in the process. Thank you for your friendship and partnership with us!
ChinaSource Team News
- Joann Pittman spoke to a women’s group at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mounds View, MN on December 13.
- On December 8, Brent Fulton was interviewed on Context: Beyond the Headlines for an episode titled “The Rise of China” You can watch the full program or go to 12:41 mark where Brent’s interview along with Bob Fu of China Aid are introduced.
In Case You Missed It
A selection of recently published items:
- A Pastor Talks about Sharing the Gospel Effectively, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), December 14.
- China’s Reforming Churches Rising to Today’s Challenges, ChinaSource Blog, December 13.
- Christmas Music in Chinese, ChinaSource Blog, December 10.
- Cross-Cultural Encounters: China and the Reformed Church in America:A Book Review, ChinaSource Blog, December 08.
- A Jilin Church Gives Thanks, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), December 07.
- An Invitation to Advance God’s Kingdom in China, ChinaSource Blog, December 06.
- Reckoning with the “Ecclesial Diversity” of Chinese Christianity, ChinaSource Blog, December 03.
- Half a Dozen Plenums, ChinaSource Blog, December 01.
- Practical Tips for Pastoral Enrichment (2), ChinaSource Blog (CCV), November 30.
- From the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom (Part 10): The Present, ChinaSource Blog, November 29.
- Remembering My First Thanksgiving in China, ChinaSource Blog, November 26.
- Giving Thanks in a Difficult Season, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), November 24.
- China and Me, ChinaSource Blog, November 23.
- Lanzhou!, ChinaSource Blog, November 22.
- Rickshaw Boy: A Book Review, ChinaSource Blog, November 19.
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