This week a protest a few blocks from the church made national news when a protestor hit a bicyclist in the head with a skateboard. A few other protestors accosted diners sitting outside. It all felt like salt in a wound. Restaurants have been struggling to reopen, and most protests in Pittsburgh have been peaceful. So why this?
How long, O Lord?
We’ve been preaching on the biblical understanding of lament in response to the pandemic and the unrest across the country. We’ve said anyone can complain, but it takes faith to bring your complaints to God. When you lament in the biblical sense you turn to God, state your complaint, tell God what you want God to do, and then choose to trust God.
And then repeat. You remind yourself that God is good, and that God can be trusted.
Lament can be a source of strength in times like these. But Pastor Mark Vroegop, author of the book, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, says that once you learn to lament, you next need to learn from lament.
The Old Testament Book of Lamentations is a collection of poems lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. But it was not just the destruction that made the poet weep. It was knowing that the people of God shared the responsibility. They had turned from God and worshipped idols. They had lived for themselves and failed to care for the poor and marginalized as God had commanded. God finally let them experience the consequences.
Most often we lament over bad things beyond our control.
Sometimes we lament over the bad things we do.
Sometimes we need to lament over the bad things we all do.
We all suffer from a condition called sin.
Not every white person is a racist, but racist structures exist and need to be dismantled.
Not every protestor is violent, but violence is destructive and must stop.
But we all suffer from sin, and shared sin calls for shared lament.