At Trinity we’ve been doing a Lenten study based on the book Transforming Our Painful Emotions by Evelyn and James Whitehead. In the book, the authors remind us that negative emotions aren’t a bad thing. They are our bodies’ invitation to explore what is going wrong in our lives. When we face our emotions and sit with them, we can peel back the layers to see what is really happening deep within us.
Right now many of us are experiencing a mixture of negative emotions:
I now walk through my church sanctuary about once a week. Last week as I walked through, I caught myself saying right out loud (not that it mattered because no one was there!), “I miss you.” It’s not just its breath-taking beauty – the stained glass windows and exquisite woodwork. I miss what it symbolizes for me. I can imagine people in their usual pews and see myself scurrying around before church to catch up with members, greet new visitors and review last minute service details with musicians and sound people.
What about your daily, everyday life do you miss most right now? What are you grieving the loss of… even if that loss is temporary? In the book, the Whiteheads talk about steps in processing our grief:
But how do we do that? Well, one of the ways we can process our grief as people of faith is through lament. The Book of Psalms contains many lament psalms. A lament psalm is a ritual through which we can give voice to our grief. These psalms allow us to bring our distress before God, praying that what we lost might be honored and transformed.
In the sermon for this week, I remind us that Jesus’ words from the cross in Matthew’s gospel (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) are the opening words of Psalm 22, a lament psalm.
This week I want to invite you to process some of the grief and loss you have experienced through this current COVID crisis by writing you own lament psalm. And, you are even invited to share it with others through the website. Below is the lament psalm literary structure.
Structure of a Lament Psalm
Share your lament psalm with us in the comments below.
My husband and I met in seminary. Britt was a member of the West Ohio Conference and I was a member of the Western Pennsylvania Conference. Once we’d decided to marry, we knew we would have a big decision to make about who would transfer their conference membership. (It seemed like such a big deal at the time. Yet today, ironically, neither of us are a member of either of those conferences!
Some have heard me tell the story of one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. I got bullied a lot in middle school, mostly because I was small and awkward and not at all athletic AND because my best classes were English and literature. (I should add I was raised in a local culture that placed the highest value on things like sports, math and science.) In my 8th grade English class was another boy, Donald, who also got picked on. He, too, was awkward, bookish, and had verbal skills well beyond his age. But he seemed to relish his nerdiness (or maybe he just had a healthier ego than me). Now, the only thing more embarrassing than being picked on for knowing all of the answers in English class was not knowing an answer in English class… and one day that happened.
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