“A Time to Weep: Voicing Lament Through the Psalms”
By Dr. John Witvliet (adapted by Worship Ministries for Reformed Worship Magazine)
“How do we help a congregation lament and grieve when they are unable to gather for worship? This moment is pastorally more crucial for spiritual formation than a full docket of church education programs. How we handle it may say as much about the gospel we proclaim as a year’s worth of sermons.
James White was fond of recalling a certain Anglican rector, who, after the onslaught of a decimating flood, prayed the prayerbook as always without alteration. The collect of the day read: “Water your earth, O Lord, in due season.” Fortunately it’s obvious to most worship leaders that the tragedies that surround us require our sensitive and honest attention in worship, whatever form that worship takes today. Injustices must be identified. Enemies must be named. Solidarity with the suffering, dying, and grieving,and deep and soul-searching faith must be expressed.
But how? How can we express our anger, fear, and bewilderment? Let me suggest that we take the biblical psalms as our model. When faced with an utter loss of words and an oversupply of volatile emotions, we best rely not on our own stuttering speech, but on the reliable and profoundly relevant laments of the Hebrew Scriptures.”
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