20 October 2019

LAMENT: "a time to weep... to mourn... to rend... to speak..."

The serious study of Hebrew Prophets is a dangerous business but the church where I worship is willing to grapple with serious things and to hear judgment and instruction. We have spent the last several weeks with the Prophet Jeremiah whose words all too often seem all too pertinent for our time. 
Today I was asked to lead our congregation in a prayer of lament.
A biblical lament [there are many examples in the Psalms] is comprised of 5 parts:
  1. The cry. A suffering people cry out to their God, uncertain that there is a God to answer.
  2. The complaint. The suffering is described and the people demand that God see their pain.
  3. The confession. The "real problem" is acknowledged and the source of suffering becomes clear to the people.
  4. The profession. The people turn back to God in trust and dare to hope that God hears, God sees, God restores.
  5. The shout of praise. The people, still suffering but now hopeful, praise the God whose love is the one eternal thing in a challenging world. 

A Psalm of Lament by K Cummings Pipes 20 October 2019

Based on Lamentations and The Beatitudes
[I begin with the cry from the 130th Psalm. Phrases in quotations are from Lamentations with the exception of the one marked with * which is from Walter Brueggemann's collection of prayers, "Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth," Fortress Press, 2003.]

“Out of the depths, we cry” to you,
O Lord, Our God.
We are “lost and wandering”
and no longer know The Way.
We “weep through the night
and know no rest.”
We are “deceived” and “betrayed”
and all that was sweet is now bitter.
“Out of the depths, we cry” to you,
O Lord, Our God.

“See, O Lord!”
We have been “caught in the net and stumbled.
We have rebelled against you.
Our sins are a yoke around our necks;
we are enslaved in darkness.”
We take your blessing for granted
in our greed for more and in our refusal to share.
We take your mercy for granted
while refusing to be merciful
       to orphans and strangers and exiles
who plead for help.
We claim to be your children
while making war, not peace.

We live in a “seduced world…  so that we rarely see 
      the truth of these matters.”*
But this morning, in this moment,
we see the truth
and we come to you as we are
in all our faithless faith
and dare to hope for rescue.

For you, O LORD, are enthroned forever.”
“Bring us back to you.”
"Forgive us."
“Renew us."
"Revive us.”

“The LORD’s kindness has not ended.
The LORD’s mercies are not exhausted.
Your steadfast love is new every morning.
Great is Your faithfulness!”

O Lord, Our God, hear our cry. 

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