Lent & Lament
February 1, 2021
Last year, we were in the season of Lent when our world was disrupted by a rapidly spreading global pandemic that imposed limitations and modifications to daily life. I remember seeing a post from a colleague who observed – “This is the Lent-iest Lent I’ve ever Lent-ed.” It was a way of acknowledging that the whole world was cast into a time of wandering through an unfamiliar wilderness…a key theme of the season of Lent.
Lent is the 40-Day journey that the church embarks upon each year, beginning on Ash Wednesday and taking us to cross and resurrection of Jesus at Easter. It is a season that draws upon biblical stories of
- the 40 years of wandering that God’s people experienced after the Exodus events freed them from Egyptian slavery and before they entered the Promised Land
- Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness after his baptism and before his public ministry got underway
The last year may feel like an extended time of wandering and temptation in the wilderness, as we’ve navigated unfamiliar challenges and disruptions, new fears and precautions, not to mention a climate of division and injustice that boiled over in protest, political unrest and even violence.
On Ash Wednesday, February 17 we will once again enter the 40 day journey to the cross, and the promise of salvation and forgiveness that it makes known. After the year we’ve endured, one biblical theme continued to call out for our attentiveness in this season of self-examination and honest confession: Lament.
But what is Lament? One of the best definitions I’ve heard comes from Kathleen O’Conner who says:
To lament is to name what is out of order in God’s world…
what keeps human beings from thriving in all their creative potential.
Things have felt painfully “out of order” in God’s world for many months now, and Lent 2021 will provide us an opportunity to give voice to that, as we reflect upon the laments of God’s people that fill various pages of scripture.
Some might recoil from this honest treatment of our pain, wondering whether “Christians” should just be happy or joyous. But the expectation that followers of Jesus – even we who put our full trust and faith in his promises of life and grace – should always be “ok” and free from heartache is a false claim. Just ask any faithful friend who has endured loss. Lament reminds us that it is ok to not be ok. In fact, honesty about our hurts is a sign of healthy faith in God – a truth repeated by the laments of many whose words are recorded in scripture.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, and continuing throughout the Sundays in Lent, we will listen closely to some of the voices of lament that echo from the pages of the Bible, and find the truth these laments speak to our own lives. The voices of Job, the prophets and the psalm writers will be our guides as they encourage us with their honesty and renew our hope and faith!
During this season, we are looking forward to providing a variety of resources and opportunities to engage the theme of Lament – in addition to Sunday worship there will be:
- Brief daily video reflections on the book of Lamentations (yep, there’s a whole book dedicated to Lament!)
- A listing of resources such as podcasts and videos that will help you to explore the theme of Lament
- A Lent at Home box for children and families to create a “home altar” and explore the Psalms of Lament (did you know that between half and two-thirds of the Psalms include themes of Lament?)
- Resources for writing your own lament(s) – and for those of you who are willing to share, these personal laments will become part of our Good Friday worship service!
Lament is sometimes misunderstood as just being sad. This season of exploring lament will draw us into honesty about human pain and suffering, which, in turn, opens us anew to the good news of a crucified and risen savior who welcomes our lament with his promises of grace and love for us and for all!
Lent 2021 will be a season for moving deeper into your faith and its meaning for your daily experience of broken, but beautiful life in Christ. Join us for all that’s to come!