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Lament Believes in Hope

posted Mar 20, 2020, 11:44 AM by Tricia Sheffield   [ updated Mar 20, 2020, 11:46 AM ]

My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out on the ground because of the destruction of my people, because infants and babes faint in the streets of the city. They cry to their mothers, ‘Where is bread and wine?’ as they faint like the wounded in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers’ bosom. What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can heal you? (Lamentations 2.11-13)


Lament. We don’t do that too often as a church. But sometimes, we need to lament. As theologian Walter Brueggemann describes it, “Lament is our most vigorous mode of faith. It is a spirituality of protest and is our way of recognizing that all is not right in the world.” Lament holds God accountable for what has gone wrong, doesn’t seem just, or just plain aches in our souls. When we raise our voices in protest and say, “No!” this speaks to a protesting, active relationship with God.


Lament. It is the resistance to new life — my eyes are spent with weeping —  and also the embrace of new life — who can heal you? Lament is the cry that the world should not be the way it is, AND the vigorous belief that the world can experience and have new life. Lament can move us to rejoicing so that even within our cries of protest and grief, we know the Lord is near, hears us, and holds us. Through our lament, we have the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding that guards us and protects us. 


Right now, I am lamenting. We are lamenting in this new way of being in our world because of COVID-19. I am crying out where is God in all this mess and pain and fear and suffering and uncertainty? And as I lift my voice, I feel that God is near, and perhaps even cries out with me through the Spirit who groans with sighs too deep for words. I have come to realize in my faith journey that I am most aware of God’s presence when I shake my fist and say, “Show up, God!” As Brueggemann describes this faithfully defiant act of lamenting, “It is in voicing despair that the soul is most keenly alive to the reality of God. The power of hope is enacted in the utterance of despair.”


Come in lament and hope to worship online via Zoom this Sunday at 10:30 AM. If you would like the link to the Zoom meeting, please email me at sheffield.tricia@gmail.com. I will open up the Zoom video meeting at 10:15 for us to gather and chat first. Tim Anderson will be joining us via Zoom and will sing “Irish Blessing” for our Benediction, and Judith Daugherty will play “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” for our Anthem. I will be preaching from Psalm 23 and my sermon title is Where is Our Shepherd?


Since we have closed the church buildings, several people have asked me where they can send in their tithes and offerings. We know that not only is this an emotionally and physically stressful time for us all, but it is also one where some of us will experience financial hardship. Please know we have gone to “bare bones” with our expenses, but there are still utility bills, insurance payments, and salaries to be paid. We would be grateful for your continued giving — as you are able — in these difficult times. Please send your offering to 121 Kings Highway, Middletown, NJ 07748


Beloved ones, lament believes in hope. And so, let us continue to faithfully lament as we journey toward a future hope.


In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,


Pastor Trish

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