By the grace of God, I’m writing this Sunday Morning Update on the Lord’s most favorite day of the year (yes, there may be more important days, but this is His favorite -- I’m sure of it). So let me start by wishing you a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
We had a lovely day together this past Sunday, even though the time change seemed to mess up a lot of people (as it always does). But I’m 95% sure that everyone who’d intended on being in Sunday School this week actually made it to Sunday School on time.
In our service, Graham League shared about working with our Missions Team to try to put together a short-term missions trip to Haiti for May of 2017. I realize that it probably sounds way too far off for us to be thinking about already, but it’s been years since our last church-sponsored missions trip, and we want to make sure that we’ve prepared it thoughtfully, prayerfully, and efficiently. So please be in prayer about supporting the trip (and possibly even joining us), and we’ll keep you abreast of information as it becomes available.
You could also be praying for several of our FCCers -- we’ve seemed to get hit with a lot of big issues in people’s lives recently. God knows all of the details, so I’ll let Him sort out your prayers, but I will specifically mention that Nathan Wainwright (the son of Michael and Kim Wainwright) was diagnosed with Stage 3 renal cancer this week, so please keep him and the whole Wainwright clan in your prayers.
In our message this week, we continued looking at “The Last Words of Jesus” on the cross -- this time focusing on the simple “I am thirsty” of John 19:28 and the not-so-simple “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” of Mark 15:34. Volumes have been written about that second verse, and whole theologies have blossomed trying to explain how God could be separated from God -- how one third of the Trinity could be separated from two thirds of the Trinity, without God being diminished in some way.
But I’m a big fan of Occam’s Razor (a philosophical rule of thumb that argues that the conclusion that requires the least amount of hoop-jumping in order to be correct is usually the one to go with). Both Mark and Matthew break Jesus’ lament out in Aramaic -- like He’s specifically quoting something written in Aramaic. Interestingly, Psalm 22 is written in Aramaic and Hebrew, and what Jesus cries out on the cross is a direct quote of its first verse. Occam’s Razor would suggest that maybe we should start there, before we feel the need to start building whole new theologies to try to explain a single verse.
And what’s going on in Psalm 22? David writes that he feels abandoned by God, that evil men have pierced his hands and his feet and are casting lots for his clothing. Do you see why Jesus might’ve felt more than just a little bit connected to this Psalm?
But what’s the point of Psalm 22? David comes to the conclusion that, though he feels abandoned and alone, he knows that he can trust what he knows about God’s character -- that God would never abandon or forsake His beloved child. So do you see why Jesus might’ve felt more than just a little bit encouraged by this Psalm?
The truth is, we all have our wilderness times, our “lost in a dark tunnel and desperate for a light” moments, our understandable feelings of loneliness and abandonment. But God doesn’t forsake His children... ever... Even when we’re at our most frayed ends, even when we feel like we’ve lost all connection to our Father, our Father is still there, still connected to us. He doesn’t forsake His children who feel the weight of sin and brokenness on their shoulders -- He’s willing to die to bring them close to Him.
So wherever you’re at this week, whatever you’re dealing with, whomever God brings into your path, remember that God is always there, always desiring relationship, and never, ever giving up on you.