THE SERVANT GENERAL
Today is Holy Saturday. Jesus was crucified yesterday and
died on the cross. Today all creation mourns in silent grief.
Today we are in lamentations.
Thoughts race through our minds, after the frenzy of yesterday’s
happenings. What does it all mean? What happens now? How will
the future be?
For us, we of course know that tomorrow Jesus will rise from
the dead (Mt 28:1-10) and be victorious. In the same way,
though we know that Jesus’ victory will become complete
at the end of time, today we are in some sort of state of
suspension. We look to the life to come, but we are often
troubled by the life we live now. We suffer afflictions in
Holy Saturday represents a time of transition. It is that
moment in time between seeming defeat and glorious victory.
It is right between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is between
darkness (Mt 27:45) and light (Mt 28:3).
It is a time of preparation for what is to come. It is a time
of transition from grief to great joy. It is a time of learning
the lessons of lamentations.
Here again is the reflection offered two years ago (from the
book “Forty Days of Lamentations”). It still is,
and always will be, relevant to our life in Christ.
Covenant and Lamentations – 3
are clothed with majesty and glory”
Jesus is dead and lies buried in the tomb. Suddenly everything
seems to stand still. The frenzy of the crucifixion has dissipated.
The cries of the crowd have died down. The heckling of the
passers-by, the chief priests, the scribes and even the criminal
crucified with him has been silenced. The weeping of the women
continues but now in private. The noise of the earthquake,
the splitting rocks and the opening of tombs is heard no longer.
It was the sabbath, and everyone rested.
God too was quiet. It seemed as if He too were at rest. It
might even have seemed that He had abandoned His Son. It was
a significant and very meaningful pause in time. A great and
awesome event had just happened in the world, the death of
God’s own Son. His subsequent resurrection would change
the world. The moment in between was the moment of transition.
Something just as awesome had happened before. God created
the whole universe and the first human beings (Gn 1:1-2:2),
and started His plan for the world rolling. After all the
work He had done, God rested (Gn 2:2).
Both momentous events were according to God’s plan.
In both, God was completely in control. With both, God intended
to manifest His love for the world. With creation, at the
beginning of time, God created paradise and lived with His
people. But paradise was lost. With the death and resurrection
of Jesus, God would restore His people to Himself, and prepare
them once again for paradise, the new Jerusalem, at the end
of time, where they would live with Him forever.
Now God created everything not for Himself but for us. And
God sacrificed His own Son also for us. Whether life or death,
we are at the center of God’s designs. God’s love
is all about us. And even God’s continuing work is entrusted
to us. God created the universe, but entrusted it to Adam
and Eve. “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the
birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the
earth.” (Gn 1:28). Jesus won salvation for humankind
on the cross, but leaves it to his disciples to proclaim that
good news. The good that God intends, whether in creation
or in salvation, has become totally dependent upon His people.
This is the importance of covenant. It stresses our relationship
with God. It is a relationship where God blesses us, and we
become a blessing to the world. It is a relationship where
we are stewards of God’s gifts, whether the gift of
a beautiful and bountiful world, or the gift of eternal salvation.
So we are crucial to what God wants to do in the world. What
is that? “When you send forth your breath, they are
created, and you renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 104:30).
God has created, now He intends to renew His creation.
How do we allow ourselves to be used by God?
First, we recognize God’s great power. “If God
glares at the earth, it trembles, if God touches the mountains,
they smoke!” (Ps 104:32). “Lord, my God, you are
great indeed! You are clothed with majesty and glory”
(Ps 104:1). God is the awesome Creator. As Creator, God put
order in the universe (Ps 104:5-9,19-20), and provides for
the needs of His creatures (Ps 104:10-18,27-28). We are totally
dependent upon God. “When you open your hand, they are
well filled. When you hide your face, they are lost.”
(Ps 104:28b-29a). God’s power is what we rely on in
being used as His instruments to renew the face of the earth.
Recognizing God’s power gives us faith, and it is faith
that unleashes the power of God.
Second, we recognize God as God. He is the Almighty, the Omnipotent.
He is worthy of our praise and worship. “I will sing
to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God while
I live.” (Ps 104:33). We can only accomplish God’s
will for our lives if we know who sends us forth and sustains
us, so that we will always look to His mind and His ways.
We must always be intimately connected with God.
Third, we recognize what our task is, and that is to be instruments
to establish the kingdom of God in our midst. This necessitates
liberating people from what is not of God, and fighting against
the dominion of the evil one. God intends to renew the face
of the earth, purifying it once again and redeeming humanity
from its sins. “May sinners vanish from the earth, and
the wicked be no more.” (Ps 104:35a).
Fourth, we must be totally obedient. We must not adapt our
human minds to secular wisdom, but we must put on the mind
of Christ. Abraham obeyed God when told to sacrifice his own
son (Gn 22:1-18). It must have been extremely difficult, since
Isaac was his “only one, whom (he) love(d)” (Gn
22:2), and Isaac was the only hope of fulfilling God’s
promise that he would have many descendants. But Abraham obeyed,
and he was blessed. “I swear by myself, declares the
Lord, that because you acted as you did in not withholding
from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly …..
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall
find blessing—all this because you obeyed my command.”
But more amazingly, God sacrificed His own Son Jesus. Unlike
Isaac, whom God prevented Abraham from slaughtering, He allowed
His Son to die on the cross. It was extremely difficult for
Jesus to go to his passion and death, but he obeyed and allowed
the Father’s will to be done. And his obedience also
has brought blessing to all the nations of the earth.
If we obey and allow God to use us in any way He wants to,
if we are willing to serve Him to the point of even giving
our lives, then we too will become blessings for the life
of the world.
Finally, in doing our task, full as it will be of pain, suffering
and crosses, we are to rejoice. We rejoice because of the
privilege of doing God’s work. We rejoice because of
the victory that has already been won on the cross. We rejoice
because the insults, slander and persecution we suffer for
the sake of Christ assure us of our reward in heaven (Mt 5:10-12).
Thus, in whatever situation we are in, we can rightly say,
“I will rejoice in the Lord.” (Ps 104:34b).
Today is the moment of transition. It is that meaningful pause
in history, when time seems to stand still. It is the moment
between seeming defeat and actual victory. It is the transition
from a world disfigured by sin to a world whose face is renewed.
For us in CFC, this is the moment of Lamentations. It is the
transition between our first 25 years and our next 25 years.
It is a time for looking back at the infidelities of the past
and even of the present, and looking forward to restoration
and greater empowerment. It is the period of experiencing
the pain and crosses in life, but anticipating the fullness
of hope and joy.
We are at the crossroads, at that significant moment in time
and history. This is our God-given time to learn the lessons
And know that tomorrow Jesus rises from the dead. And so Jesus
himself tells us, “Do not be afraid.” (Mt 28:10).
Let not the seeming silence of God, nor the seeming hopelessness
of our human situation, ever bring us down. The victory is
What was supposed to be our response to what God was teaching
response: Learn the lessons of Lamentations.
Did we learn the lessons of Lamentations?
In 2007 we did not. God gave us a great opportunity to experience
His victory, in preparation for the next 25 years of CFC.
What resulted instead was an intensification of the crisis,
and the eventual split. It was still Good Friday, as the enemy
was still victorious.
But God worked to fulfill His plan, in spite of our own shortcomings.
God raised CFC-FFL, the restored CFC, the authentic CFC.
Now it is two years later. We have learned a lot, but we still
need to learn more. We have been restored, but we still need
to attain to the fullness of God’s plan for us.
If another crisis is to be avoided, if we are to move forward
in God’s plan for us, if we are to experience the power
of the resurrection in our work, we need to continue to learn
the lessons of Lamentations.
There are very many lessons indeed. Here are some of them
(from the book “Forty Days of Lamentations”).
101-107. 7 Basic Elements of Lamentations
Lam 111-117. 7 Pastoral Principles of Lamentations
Lam 121-127. 7 Threats to Lamentations
Lam 131-137. 7 Fruits of Lamentations
Lam 141-147. 7 Persons who do not Understand Lamentations
Are you among those who do not understand Lamentations? Are
you among those who would claim the victory of Easter Sunday
without reflecting on and learning the meaning of Good Friday,
that that victory is rooted on the cross? Are you among those
who would miss out on the wonderful opportunity of learning
from God during the transition of Holy Saturday?
Because God has His plan from eternity, because of God’s
love for us so greatly shown on the cross, we face a glorious
future, we will experience His victory. But a response is
needed from us. But if we do not learn the lessons of Lamentations,
then our response will be inadequate, even erroneous.
As God, having restored us, calls us once again to our mission,
can we respond “Ready!” (Gn 22:1). Are we truly
ready to be obedient, no matter what is demanded of us? Are
we ready to sacrifice our Isaacs, everything that we hold
Let us always trust in Jesus our Savior. But let us do our
part, so that we can experience the fullness of God’s
plan for us.
April 11, 2009
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from Lamentations - Part 6[PDF]