- It’s not a question of personality; it’s a matter of faith and obedience.
- It’s not about different worship styles or preferences; it’s a question of balance and, more importantly, the cost and consequences of imbalance.
- It’s not about whether I’m personally struggling right now; it’s about my deep connection with the body of Christ and my alignment with God’s will for the world.
I’m talking here about the presence and practice (or absence and avoidance) of lament in our personal and corporate worship. I’ve been reflecting for the past month on the costly loss of lament in our tradition, in (predominantly White) Western Christianity, in my life, and our church – the church that I am responsible to lead and serve. I’ve got a lot of thoughts and ideas about why we don’t lament well, the first one being my own personal failure to be fully faithful to all parts of God’s Word. I’m not saying I’ve been preaching heresy or a false gospel. However, if you are doing good/great things but are, also, consistently failing to pay attention to an important thing . . . there’s a cost to that. How will you at Church of the Redeemer know how to lean into lament if you aren’t being equipped, encouraged, and invited to lament?
But like most things, it’s not just a matter of education, equipping, and leadership. For maybe a host of different reasons, we just do not like lament, we don’t want to lament, we find lament awkward, and we feel that lamenting is wrong. For example, in all my years of pastoral ministry, I don’t think I’ve ever had a congregant tell me, “Pastor Ewan, we need to be doing more laments”!
This Sunday, beginning with Psalm 42, we’re kicking off a new series titled, “Leaning into Lament.” My hope is that during this season we will learn together some or all of the following things:
- What lament is and what it isn’t.
- What is the goal of lament, i.e., What’s the point and the end result?
- Why have I (personally) avoided lament and what has been the consequence?
- Why have we (corporately in the church) avoided lament and what has been the consequence?
- How, when, and where do I lament?
If you haven’t yet taken advantage of any or all of the following resources, I’d encourage you to do that soon, because, on Sunday, we won’t just be “hearing about” lament, we are actually going to be entering into lament together!
- A brief video reflection on lament and a song based on Psalm 22 & 23.
- An article by N.T. Wright (in Time magazine!) about Christianity, Lament, and COVID-19. (Great one to send to non-Christian friends).
- Maybe the best paper ever written on The Costly Loss of Lament (look for the bluish “view PDF” button on the left).
I also invite you to engage with Psalm 42. Wrestle with it. Because Lament is Wrestling.
Yours in Christ’s love,