Good Friday: Learning to Lament
We invite you to follow the prompts in this video as a guide to writing your own lament (using the structure of the Psalms as an example).
“My God, My God” (Naming our Losses & Learning to Lament)
Last night, we followed Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane, the Garden of Pressure, the Garden of Grief.
Tonight, we continue our journey through Holy Week by taking a seat alongside loss and lament. We have a unique opportunity this year to participate in the Easter season in the context of collective suffering and sadness. 102,198 people have died within the last 2.5 months of the coronavirus. Right now as we gather, 50,000 people are in serious or critical condition. And in our country, it’s likely to get worse in the weeks to come.
We’ve been beating the drum of grief and loss for several weeks now in our gatherings at The Parish.
As Jenna Perrine says, many of us have been taught to see prayer and worship as a means of cauterizing our wounds – these are things that help stop the bleeding. The bleeding, we fear, doesn’t belong in the house of God and needs to be pushed away as quickly as possible.
Yet all along, the Bible has been full of laments.
An entire book of Scripture is called Lamentations. And roughly half of all the Psalms are songs of Lament. Why did the people of God find it so important to embed the language of tears, sadness, injustice, and anger in their worship?
Because our souls grow, expand, and enriched through the necessary journeys of grief and loss we all will face. It has rarely been so important for the American church to have emotional fluency and healthy theology around our pain and suffering. If those whose God suffered and died don’t know how to converse with the deep pain of these realities, who will?
Jesus knows the Psalms of lament well. As we engage Good Friday, we’ll hear him cry out the language of lament that he had prayed often enough that it now spontaneously poured out of him: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Would we feel bold enough to say those words to God? Or would this seem to be a failure of faith, a cry of unbelief?
Perhaps because we are not fluent in the language of lament, we don’t know what to do when the world falls apart.
Rene Breuel says “lament is what happens when we ask,’Why?’ and then don’t get an answer. Lament is suffering turned into prayer. It’s the worship of people who admit that they sometimes feel out of balance and out of place.”
As NT Wright aptly reminds us in this time, Christians don’t need to explain why. We need to be able to not explain, then demonstrate how to grieve and lament wholeheartedly, while we wait for hope.
Writing a Lament (Based on Psalm 22)
Using Psalm 22 as an example, consider using the structure below to write your own lament to God, naming your losses and bringing them to him in the presence of his love.
- Cry out to God
- “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
- Express Your Complaint
- “Why are you so far from saving me?”
- Name your anger, pain, heartache, or sadness
- Rage against the source(s) of injustice or your enemies
- Name your Request
- “Lord, do not be far, come quickly to help me.”
- Give Voice to Your trust and remembrance of God’s presence and faithfulness in the past
- “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One, you brought me out of the womb… in the assembly I will praise you”
Music by Chris Zabriskie