The Second Sunday of Lent:
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
Psalm 22 is well-known because of its haunting opening words, words which Jesus uttered as he hung on the cross: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
What is less well-known is the account of the risen Jesus using other words from Psalm 22, as recounted in the letter to the Hebrews: I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; the midst of the congregation will I praise you.
Despite its powerfully bleak and despairing opening, Psalm 22 does not stay in that place.
Psalm 22 does look back on the past, but it does not leave us there.
Psalm 22 also looks towards what God will do in the future, and what our response should be.
Having said that, let us pause and consider how we respond to challenges in our lives.
Do we view the glass as being half full or half empty?
Do we bury our heads in the sand and pretend all will be well, or do we become obsessed and overwhelmed in our despair?
No matter where our instincts might lead us, Psalm 22 models a different way for us.
No matter what bleakness or despair may drive us towards us crying out: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? this latter part of Psalm 22 reminds us that God has always loved us, and that he is always with us.
Of course, there is another message in these verses.
Psalm 22 does not only urge us to look forward to thanking God for his deliverance from despair, it also urges us to look forward to testifying to that deliverance to other people.
These latter verses of a psalm so closely associated with Our Lord’s crucifixion are a call to evangelism, that is the spreading of the Good News (the Gospel) of Jesus Christ to all.
Let us pray that we might set aside our instinctive responses to the challenges and tribulations that confront us each day.
Let us pray that we may never forget God’s love for us, and God’s presence with us.
Let us pray that we may ever, through our words and actions, bring the truth of the risen Christ into the lives of others.