+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
To lament is part of being human. This is a revised version of what I shared in a recent interfaith service.
Even though we come from many faith traditions or no-faith, we share a need to lament….to cry out in our pain and our sadness. These are days when we have much to lament
I want to invite you to make space and time in your life personally and communally to lament… to express your pain and frustration, grief, and sadness. In your communal and personal faith life find the time to honestly speak, pray about our disappointments, anger, fears, and longings.
Part of lament is articulating what we are feeling, thinking, or longing for normally focused on our God. Another part is to take time to listen… to God, to your community and to one another. For example, we need to lament the pain and deaths of
- Rayshard Brooks
- George Floyd,
- Ahmaud Arbery,
- Breonna Taylor,
- Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, and
There have been so many others who lost their lives. There have been others whose lives have been derailed and damaged, if not destroyed by the virus of racism, white privilege, and racial violence of many kinds in history. These issues are not just someone else’s problems, they are our in our communities and in our church body. We lament our actions and failures to act.
We also lament a second virus that has been threatening us, COVID-19. We lament the many losses of being able to gather in community…. to be close to one another, be with each other as we have taken for granted and to live with a sense of freedom instead of concern. We remember all those who have lost their lives and lived through serious sickness. We remember the hard and life-threatening work of care providers and medical people. We lament the people who have lost jobs and live in economic uncertainty. We lament the ways we have become increasingly divided about how to respond to the virus.
Lament is a deep part of the Abrahamic traditions. The psalms of lament from our Christian Bible speak to me in times like this. I have much to learn about other faiths’ approach to lament.
Here is one of my favorites. It is Psalm 69.
Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
Christians remember Jesus also offers a lament from the cross: “My God, My God why have you abandoned or forsaken me.” He is quoting Psalm 22.
As a bishop, when I go to work with people who have experienced deep pain with each other or because of something that has happened, I sometime invite people to share their stories, feelings, and thoughts. When each person completes their thought, we join in saying, “We lament it….”
In these days we gather to lament in grief and sadness. We gather to pray for healing. We pray for a better future, where all are respected and experience greater human rights.
We remember and lament all the ways racism has twisted itself into our personal stories and our communal stories. We lament the pain our words, our actions, our lack of words and our lack of actions have led to this moment in our country, state, communities, and families We lament our failure to stop this sinful virus in its many and destructive manifestations . We lament it.
We lament the history of our country including how slavery made our country grow…or how unfair treaties claimed land from indigenous people and led to wars with the Dakota people on whose historic homelands we now live. We lament it
We know we have been blind to the pain of people. We know we have hurt people through lack of respect, prejudice, and by making assumptions, freezing, fleeing our responsibility, fighting against accepting our work. We lament it
We are tired, struggling, sad, broken and needing wisdom as we long for greater freedom and human rights for all. We notice how we circle through the liturgy of racial violence, then unrest, then try to listen and learn. Now we fear we will slide back into our old ruts. If we do not change and experience transformation, then people’s gifts and lives will be lost again. Without action people’s potential will be stolen because of the ways that the structures of our world are as broken as we are.
We receive gifts when we slow down or stop to listen to one another…. listen to the pain, the struggle, the losses.
One of my teachers liked to say, “Memory is strong, hope is stronger”
Lament is the first step toward the birth of a durable and transforming hope for a better future for all.
Hope is stronger. Our resurrecting God reminds us God’s hope will not rest.