Lament Words in Lent

The Lenten season reminds us that the life of faith is a complex ball of grief and joy. With grief always being the first in sequence. Walter Bruuggemann gives me food for thought:

Much of Christian piety and spirituality is romantic and unreal in its positiveness. As children of the Enlightenment, we  have censored and selected around the voice of darkness and disorientation, seeking to go from strength to strength, from victory to victory. But such a way ignores the Psalms; it is a lie in terms of our experience. Childs is no doubt right in seeing that the Psalms as a canonical book is finally an act of hope. But the hope is rooted precisely in midst of loss and darkness, where God is surprisingly present. The Jewish reality of exile, the Christian confession of crucifixion and cross, the honest recognition that there is an untamed darkness in our life must be embraced–all of that is fundamental to the gift of new life (The Message of the Psalms, 11-12).

Or as Glenn Pemberton puts it:

Believers are aching for words to express the realities of their lives, to speak the truth to God instead of putting on a charade of repetitive and empty praise cliches that ignore or deny the relentless storms . . . Thanksgiving and lament not only grow from teh same soil of faith but are part of the same organism. The practice of thanksgiving grows out the the prior practice of lament, so the loss of lament actually threatens a second type of faith talk: thanksgiving (Hurting with God, 26)

  • Jim Eisenbraun

    Joel, our congregation is focusing on lamentation as the theme of Lent this year. So appropo! Thanks. And I love Brueggemann’s writings on this (and many) themes.


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