Lament: (verb) 1) to mourn or wail. 2) to express sorrow, mourning or regret. syn: deplore, bewail, bemoan
Lent: the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting.
We prefer rejoicing to lament.
Singing with arms raised, spirits lifted and mouths full of praise, our chests heave with happiness after our time of praise and worship. Until “worship” is reframed as confession and lament.
Lament is a lost practice in the evangelical church.
I recently read Soong-Chan Rah’s book chronicling the book of Lamentations in the Bible, called Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times. It is an apt read during the season of Lent that is characterized by penitence and fasting.
Lent is intentionally sitting in the dark and doing battle with the demons we find there.
Much like I’m attempting in this series.
Here are a few thought-provoking quotes from the book:
“The depth of pain endemic to racial hostility requires full disclosure for complete healing.” (p. 58)
“Stories of suffering can never be buried when lament is an important and central aspect of the church’s worship life.” (p. 59)
“We do not hear from all of the voices in the North American evangelical context. Instead, we opt for quick and easy answers to complex issues. We want to move to the happier message of success and triumph and cover up the message of those who suffer.” (p. 68)
“There is an underlying belief that American Christians have been the standard-bearers of Christianity for several centuries. There is a sense of being the exceptional church, resulting in the missionary endeavor and vision…But this sense of American exceptionalism and even the sense of exceptionalism for the American church cannot be justified through Scripture.” (p. 94)
“The church has the power to bring healing in a racially fragmented society. That power is not found in an emphasis on strength but in suffering and weakness. The difficult topic of racial reconciliation requires the intersection of celebration and suffering.” (p. 106)
“Lament emerged as an uncomfortable but necessary response to the absence of shalom in the church.” (p. 138)
Have you ever prayed for God to reveal the sin in your life and then sat, waiting? It is terrifying. Because in my experience, God always answers.
I’m embracing this season of Lent as a way of forced exposure.
I’m asking God to illuminate my blind spots and weed out any latent and blatant racism in me.
Join the Facebook group “Prophetic Lament during Lent” that is slowly reading through this book. The author himself is leading the group, so it looks like a fabulous way to dig deeper into the content of this book.
Listen to this podcast on lament. At the end, many people of color share their personal laments.
SheLoves Magazine recently studied this book. You can read the intro here.
This chart lists out the psalms of lament (at the top).
Listen to Soong Chan Rah on these podcasts:
*Contains Amazon affiliate links
New to the Series? Start HERE (though you can jump in at any point!).
During the month of March, 2017, I will be sharing a series called 31 Days of #Woke. I’ll be doing some personal excavating of views of race I’ve developed through being in schools that were under court order to be integrated, teaching in an all black school as well as in diverse classrooms in Chicago and my experiences of whiteness living in Uganda and China. I’ll also have some people of color share their views and experiences of race in the United States (I still have some open spots, so contact me if you are a person of color who wants to share). So check back and join in the conversation. You are welcome in this space.