In last week’s Pastor Weekly, I wrote the following paragraph. And then came Sunday and our Corporate Worship . . .
“Many of the reasons laments are awkward and we avoid them are the same reasons they are important, good, necessary, and healthy. For example: Laments require vulnerability. Vulnerability is difficult. Public vulnerability can be especially awkward and uncomfortable. Vulnerability is a risk. However, we all know that vulnerability is the key component for relational health, depth, and intimacy. Love cannot flourish without vulnerability. An avoidance of vulnerability will kill intimacy every single time.”
During Sunday’s sermon, I preached about that vulnerability dynamic – its importance and its connection with intimacy and love. And then, after that and off-camera, I personally entered (or was dragged into) lament to a deeper level than I have in a long, long time. Having Pastor Alex lead us in the lament liturgy enabled me to just participate. In the weird and mysterious work of the Spirit, I knew I was lamenting with you all – my church family – and the tears just came. And then, of course, Cory and the Worship team led me deeper into lament in song and in prayer. I barely made it through the Benediction. And then, back in my office, every time I went to click on the link to enter our “post-church drop-in” Zoom gathering, anticipating seeing all your faces, I just could not hold back the tears. I just couldn’t do it. “Sobbing mess” would have been a fair description. So, I let Pastor Bob and Alex know, and knowing you were in very good pastoral hands, I spent some time alone.
Afterwards I was torn. Hearing from others, I know I missed a special and sacred time with those who participated. I questioned my choices: “Did I abandon the flock? Chicken out? Avoid the very vulnerability I had just preached about?” All fair (and appropriate) questions. I included a brief apology in my Sunday evening email with our Daily Worship Devotions. And then, each day this week, I’ve heard from so many of you about how powerfully God worked through all that mess, all the tears during and after Sunday’s worship, and in your laments and vulnerability during the Zoom drop-in, at home, and in your Small Groups. Even my being such a mess that I couldn’t join you enabled and gave permission to others to enter deeper into lament! God works in wonderful and unexpected ways. (Just like Psalm 77 declares!) I am so thankful to God for his work and deeply appreciative of all the vulnerability that has been entered into and shared. Personally, our emails, texts, and phone calls have touched me deeply and drawn me closer to God. Lament is Worship. It really is: Lament is Worship.
This Sunday, and next week in our Daily Worship Devotions, that’s going to be our focus: Lament as Worship. We’re going to look at 3 aspects of that:
1. Jesus’ tearful lament over and for God’s people in Luke 19:41-44.
2. Jesus’ lament over missing the Lord’s Supper in Luke 22:14-18.
3. The lament that is ongoing in heaven, right now, around God’s throne in Revelation 6:9-11.
I’d encourage you to take some time reflecting and meditating on those passages as you prepare your hearts for Corporate Worship this Sunday.
Yours in Christ’s love – and with his tears,