Lamentation and Hope

5th Sunday of Lent:  A Reflection on Psalm 130

A Prayer of Lamentation and Hope

(Adapted from the MSG translation)

Cry of Lamentation: HELP, O GOD—the bottom has fallen out of our lives!
Out of the depths of our souls we cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, listen to the suffering voices all around the world.
Please. Hear us as we are crying and crying for your mercy.

Voice of Hope:  If you, Almighty God, kept records of all our wrongdoings, against you and each other…
    Who of us would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
    and that’s why you’re respected and worshiped.

Voice of Lamentation: You know me Lord, all my life I have trusted in your Word, yet, I’m still waiting. Waiting for you to do something. With my daily prayers I wait anxiously for hope, for peace, for salvation.

Like a night shift worker waits for the morning, all night long, I wait for you to fill my life with light.  

Waiting and watching till morning.
    Waiting and watching till morning.

Voice of Hope: Together, as your people, O God, we find hope in your love that never fails, love so steady and true, and your plentiful and generous redemption, forgiveness offered freely for all. Amen.

Lamentation, 1930. Martha Graham Dance Company.

Lamentation and Hope. The cry from the depths goes on and the anxious wait continues.  But the hope of redemption is as real as ever.  The sadness and anxiety are underlined with the unquestioned trust in God. Let us unite in an unwavering and open declaration of our trust. The lamentation never ceases, yet now, even more so, the hope must remain, because God is not keeping count and still forgives.

Practice: Rewrite Psalm 130 in your own words.  Although we know God will come, just as a night watchman knows the dawn will come, the night can be long and sleepless and anxious.  Express your feeling from the “depths of your soul.”  You can do this as a family and share your prayers with each other.

You may want to respond also to the OT and Gospel readings for today (Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 11:1-45):

Lamentation: “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost, we are indeed cut off.” Ez. 37:11

 Hope: “I am the resurrection and the life.” “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”  John 11:25,40

Further Reading: There are many suggestions for how to use our time during “stay at home” isolation.  I highly recommend reading the devotional classics of our faith by such authors as C. S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Bernard of Clairvaux, Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross and many others. A great Renovaré resource is Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups, edited by Richard Foster. I have been drawn to some Quaker authors and am currently reading Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion. One of his life prayers was, “I am just going to make my life a miracle!”

Kelly was a Quaker missionary, educator, and scholar.  He delivered a message called “Holy Obedience” in 1939. Here is a striking and timely passage that still rings true today:

Out in front of us is the drama of men and of nations, seething, struggling, laboring, dying. Upon this tragic drama in these days our eyes are all set in anxious watchfulness and in prayer. But within the silences of the souls of men an eternal drama is ever being enacted, in these days as well as in others.  And on the outcome of this inner drama rests, ultimately, the outer pageant of history.  It is the drama of the lost sheep wandering in the wilderness, restless and lonely, feebly searching, while over the hills comes the wiser Shepherd.  For His is a shepherd’s heart, and He is restless until He holds His sheep in His arms.  It is the drama of the Eternal Father drawing the prodigal home unto Himself, where there is bread enough and to spare.  And always its chief actor is—the Eternal God of LoveA Testament of Devotion, Thomas R. Kelly. 1941

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