Last week I wrote about joy and about hope. I wrote about God’s dream, the one creation is groaning and suffering together to become. This week is harder to write. I am well aware that some among us, and across our country, are experiencing relief while others are fearful and angry. I am lamenting. I am mourning that the world in which we live is so far from God’s dream. I am heartbroken that there are those who live in fear and that there are those who have felt forgotten and discarded.
Lamenting isn’t something we do much of in our culture, but it is deeply biblical. The book of Lamentations, a few poems tucked in the midst of our scriptures, struggles to make sense of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. It begins with how. How indeed do we live when the illusions we cling to crumble? How do we live without what we need to survive let alone thrive? How do we bear to have our hearts broken such that we become entrenched behind ramparts, letting loose our arrows on anything that moves?
How? It starts with entering the breadth and depth of the pain—not only our pain and the pain of those we love, but the pain buried within the ‘other’ who threatens all we hold dear. Because despite our willful insistence to the contrary, we cannot experience God’s dream ourselves so long as anyone is left out.
That may not sound much like good news right now. In the midst of suffering and pain, we lose hope and joy. We lash out. It is true for all of us. During labor we often lose sight of the promise. Wrapped in fear, we try to manufacture what we desire, in our own image, at least for those we hold dear.
But God continues to work unceasingly in the very midst of all our selfishness, all our human frailty, all our blindness,
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy and its people as a delight.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating;
the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
to create a new heaven and a new earth;
In our baptism we promise to commit ourselves to join in this work. I know as much as I try, I do so only imperfectly at best. Lamenting forces me to remember that we must first enter the pain, the lament, the death, if we desire to taste the new life, the joy, the resurrection. And in so doing we are changed and challenged to discover just how we might contribute to God’s dream, as Bishop Jeff Lee encourages us to do below, for the well-being of all God’s children. It seems like an impossible dream at this moment, but we live in hope, tenuous as it may feel today.
For those who wish to share in prayer together this evening, we will gather at 6:45pm. I hope to see you Sunday,