December 7

Good morning all!

Today’s scripture: PSALM 130; 1-6

1   Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
2       Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
3   If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
4   But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
5   I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6   my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.

Psalm 130 by Mark Lawrence

I am going to put this out there and you can respond with your thoughts but I believe we have lost the art of lament.  As I type this I am acutely aware that my cat Eli is walking around the house meowing a deep mournful meow because we won’t let him out this morning due to how many birds he has brought us.  Maybe Eli has not lost the art of lament (it sounds like we are very much punishing him around here) but I believe we have lost this art.

What is lament? According to google definitions it means “a passionate expression of grief.” But I really like what Dr. Creach over at has to say about lament.  He says, “Lament is a form of speech that allows the worshipper to complain about injustice and to call on God to hear the cries of those who suffer, as did our biblical forbears. Because lament is offered to one in covenant relationship, however, lament also is praise, and a very important expression of praise at that. It gives evidence of faith worked out in the midst of hardship, hurt, and loss. Perhaps this is the reason the editors of the Psalter labeled the book “praises” even though it is dominated by the lament genre.”

So in that light the form of lament is almost critical to our personal faith.  When was the last time you cried out to God in injustice in the world? Or about your deep grief? What grieves you this morning?  For some reason Psalm 130 hits me this morning because in this call out of the depths, the writer is calling to God.  There is a deep faith that God will be there as long as we are calling out. In addition there is this notion still of an active waiting that takes place in that lament.  I think sometimes in our world, if we call out our deep despair we expect everything to be fixed right away and yet the Psalmist still waits as expectantly as we wait for the morning…still knowing that God is there and will do something.  How appropriate for the advent season!  As we wait there will be moments of great joy and moments of great despair.  I don’t know about you but I am saddened about so many things happening in the world that sometimes I have to dwell in it but if I spend too much time there nothing starts to happen, a fine balance.

A year ago on Thanksgiving I encountered this fine balance with God, I was called into the hospital where I am a volunteer chaplain to do some translation.  I am the only hospital chaplain at this point that speaks Spanish and on morning of Thanksgiving a couple brought in their baby who had stopped breathing and passed before their eyes in the hospital.  They didn’t speak much English so I was called in to be with them.  The hospital chaplain was already there and so were many doctors, nurses, and family members and there were deep wails coming from the mother.  She was in true lament of the injustice of her child gone.  The father sat stunned and my only job was to speak Spanish to them about their baby in hushed tones and to pray with them and open up the space for deep lament.  Everyone was in tears, including me.  And then I had to walk away….
I got in my car and still weeping, my car drove itself basically to the church where we were serving breakfast for Thanksgiving.  In my deep sadness, my soul just knew that I needed to be around community.  I walked in and was greeted with warmth, light, yummy food, and people who were savoring this moment of joy.  God was in both places.  After a lovely meal, I loaded up the car and drove to my grandparents house.  My dad knew what had just happened and without any words, he enveloped me in a hug that gave comfort beyond what I could have asked for.  I melted in his arms and then could celebrate with my family. God was there too.  In my deep lament, there was God waiting to greet me and to hug me and give me faith again.  I can only hope that the young parents had the same support (and from the family gathered, I am guessing they do).  I am sure this year has held many laments for them and still they wait for God to show up but through my experience God does.   
Where are you lamenting this morning? Can you cry out to God and wait for God’s response? Can you still see the joy in the covenantal relationship as well as the grief? Can they co exist for you? And if you haven’t cried out in a while, today might be the day…God can handle it and it may feel more authentic in the season.

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