- Psalm 22:1-5
- Matthew 27:45-50
Lament requires us, sometimes even demands us, to really look and see. A young woman looked and saw the tears of the oppressed. The video she shot on her phone of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 was seen all around the world and unleashed a holy rage as people witnessed, and finally acknowledged, what African Americans have experienced for centuries: subjugation by oppressive systems in the midst of privileged blind bystanders.
In the UK, black men between 18 and 25 years are five times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police and black women are four times more likely to die during childbirth. We have much to lament.
The two passages today speak of lament. Jesus, and David, the brutally honest psalmist, set this example for us of what to do when we’re in pain.
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” is a pain-filled cry at the very beginning of Psalm 22 that is mirrored by Jesus himself on the cross in Matthew 27.
The pain is not sanitised and polished for us.
It is raw and honest.
Lament is a hard practice to embrace. Our society wants us to rush towards positivity and victory. What does it mean to truly lament? To sit with the pain. Lament demands that we open ourselves, it demands from all of us, that we no longer ignore the pain.
“Lament is a protest so deep that it must become a prayer, for only God can provide needed hope that justice will prevail and that the future will be different.”
Rachel’s Cry: Prayer of Lament and Rebirth of Hope, Kathleen D Bilman and Daniel L Migliore, The Pilgrim Press 1999
God of justice and of grace,
remove the scales from my eyes so
I can truly see the oppression around me,
and give me courage not only to name it,
but to fight it while providing authentic presence,
witness, and compassion to the oppressed.
- How have you been involved in the practice of lament?
- In what ways are marginalised groups in your community experiencing pain?
- How are you affected when you observe people’s grief in other parts of the world, for example in the aftermath of a violent attack or a natural disaster?
Go and Do
- Sit and reflect, lament the pain you have noticed in your community (when it gets uncomfortable, stay for a while longer).
- Who do you need to move closer to in order to hear their pain?
- Connect with some people on the margins in your community to learn about their narrative of history and its consequences. What steps can you take to be a truth-teller of history?
Find out more on the Churches Together in Britain & Ireland website at ctbi.org.uk/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2023.