Click Through to Listen:
July 5 Jesus Lives Lament, Stephen Baxter
June 28 Jesus Wept – The Lament of God, Stephen Baxter
June 21 Don’t sit in lament – God wants to carry you through it, Michael Henderson
June 14 Starting from the Bottom, Liam Conway
June 7 Lament, “Jesus don’t you care?”, Stephen Baxter
May 31 Sweet Sorrow, Joel Ortiz
May 24 Lament for Our City, Michael Henderson
May 17 Lament for the New Earth, Joanna Sinclair
May 10 A Lament for the Planet, Stephen Baxter
May 3 What is Lament? Stephen Baxter
A TIME TO WEEP – God’s gift of Lament.
“The Bible actually responds to real life. We jump so quickly to everything’s going to be fine and awesome. We forget that the Bible actually allows us, and in fact encourages and maybe even commands us, to stay in those places of suffering, to speak the honest truth.”Soong-Chan Rah
Most of us wrestle at some point with the reality of evil and suffering. Whether we are Christian or not, suffering and evil impact significantly our belief in God and our attitude toward God. For some it is the cause of their rejection of the existence of God. The world today seems to be at a crisis point, it is a profound cultural moment. How does the church serve the community in its response? And how can we be ‘prophetic’ at the same time?
Whether we are Christian or not, whenever there is suffering there is a response. It doesn’t matter whether it personal or someone close to us, or the community/world in general, suffering and evil elicits a reaction.
What is our strategy?
Do we ignore it endeavouring to minimize the pain and stay positive? Do we drown it in a fever of activity ¾ bingeing on Netflix, using mind-altering substances or numbing it with alcohol?
Perhaps our tactic is to face it, get angry, frustrated and ‘let it all out’. Alternatively, we can fixate on the suffering, succumb to it and wallow in despair. On the other hand we could become consumed by fear and trapped inside emotions unable to think, convinced things could only get worse.
Perhaps our response is a combination of responses ¾ all messy and confused.
Not surprisingly, each response reveals something about our belief in God?” Ignoring suffering suggests God is irrelevant, drowning suffering implies God is insufficient. Despair says God is uninvolved, rage says God is unjust, and fear suggests God is not in control.
But there is another way.
It is called Lament. It is the gift of God for difficult, sad and painful moments. The bible is full of them. In lament, we encounter life and theology in their most raw forms. It is about expressing our hurts, griefs sorrows and complaints to God. it is truth-telling allowing the voice of the suffering to be brought front and centre.
Lament wrestles with the tension that God is good, but bad things still happen. Lament struggles with the promise one day there will be no more pain, tears, and death (Rev. 21:4), but that day has not yet come.
In Lament we open ourselves up to God’s healing and renewal. But not on our terms. Lament acknowledges God’s long-term view and accepts it. Lament is often a cry amid the unresolved that enables us to move from hurt to hope, even when our painful circumstances do not change.
To lament is to pray
It is the cry of a heart, or hearts, that are hurting, confused and pain-filled yet still believing. It is an act of faith where, though we are tempted to turn our back on God because of anger and disenchantment, we address our complaint to him.
To lament is a prayer for the world in all its brokenness, sinfulness, suffering and pain. It is a cry that amid that brokenness, cries with a faith anchored on the bedrock of God’s grace, truth and love. It is a cry of hope and trust that one day God will set all things aright.
The tone of our 10am service
In this series we will explore Lament as God’s gift to us and actively engage in lament for our world, our community, our families and ourselves.
Our aim is to learn together how to lament well. Each Sunday we will enter into grief of a particular issue at both a corporate and individual level. This will bring a strong ‘contemplative’ feel to our services. We will sing songs that talk about human suffering, rather than songs that say move too quickly to announce that everything is going to be okay. Each week we will endeavour to use poetry and/or responsive readings as well as testimony of lament.
Jesus will be our focus as we grapple with the deep truth that Jesus is named “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).
He, more than anyone who walked on earth, understood the depth of the tragedy and paradox embedded into the heart of humanity. Yet, it is through Jesus, and his obedience through death to resurrection, that we have hope. Each week we will end on a note of hope and praise.