Lamenting

Dear Mourners,

“…the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart. If the foundations of the world are destroyed what can the upright do?” Psalm 11:2-3

Lord, twenty kindergartners and six adults have been gunned down in Newtown. Lord hear our prayer. Oh Lord have mercy.

We ask “where was God?” --It is Good Friday once more. Jesus took bullets in Connecticut on Friday the 14th of December 2012.   Many of us have wept off and on since we received the news.  Why Lord, oh why have the innocents been shot down in the Sandy Hook classrooms?  As our friend and mentor Terry Hershey says,” Often when we seek to find the solution to a problem, God directs us instead to embrace the mystery.”

Right now the wound we feel is raw. The Lord invites us to join the Psalmist in a season of Lamenting. To Lament is to take out our harshest feelings of grief to God with authenticity and full emotion. We are a people who too often begin our prayers with flowery language and kind words such as “oh most wonderful, pleasant, wonderful, and gracious God”. That is fine at times, but that is not how we always direct our words to those who we have the deepest of relationships. My wife, kids, mom, dad, best of friends sometimes let me have it with the unpleasant truths I need to hear and vice and versa.  Deep relationships go through the seasons of real life. Close human bonds are formed through navigating good times, as well as bad. Read over Psalm 11 and other Psalms such as 13, 22, 52 and 58. In each of these portions of scripture the authors' words are harsh toward a God perceived to be absent and unfair. Do you desire a deep relationship with your God? Who could argue that the Psalms attributed to King David are the words of someone less than fully faithful. The content of the Psalms reflect a humanity looking to God to be present and in relationship with them in all of life’s seasons. They are lines which reflect language that says, I trust God to hear even the strongest of my feelings and still be in relationship with me.

What might we do in the face of such evil? Some recommendations:

…Practice your laments. Learn from the Psalmist, master of lament. Read the scripture and be honest with God.

…Trust that though the problem may not be solved, it’s not about mastering life’s riddles as much as embracing the mystery of God's presence in the moments of Good Friday.

…Light a candle and remember that even the weakest of flames can keep your toe from being stubbed on your way to the bathroom at night.  The feeblest of flames chases back the darkness and gives you hope for the journey. Jesus is not the author of fear. The light of Christ pushes back the darkness, darkness cannot push back on the light!

….The light of Jesus comes whenever we forgive vs. hold a grudge, love vs. hate, speak well of others vs. gossip, giving ourselves away in service as our Lord first did for us.  Our friend and mentor Reggie McNeal says, “God does not need us to get the work of God done, but God has cut us in on the deal so that we might share in the joy of partnering with our Lord in the Kingdom of God." Whenever we participate in ways such as this, evil is deconstructed and the light of God goes forth.

“The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and God's soul hates the lover of violence. For the Lord is righteous; God loves righteous deeds; and the upright shall behold his face.” (Psalm 11:5,7)

Trust that the ways of God are of mercy, justice and of love. Evil breaks out among us, too often it seems. But the way of God has triumphed and holds the ultimate victory of eternal truth in Christ Jesus! Let us embrace the mystery.

This Sunday, the 23rd, we will have a more informal time of worship. I will frame some scripture, share insights and open the time to sharing and sacred discussion.

Still in One Peace,

Pastor David Jensen

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