I can’t imagine the devastating sorrow swallowing up the families of those mowed down in cold blood at hatred’s hands. Seeing ‘Christ’ & ‘Church’ associated with such violence breaks my heart, as this atrocious act couldn’t be further from the Love of Christ & what Christ’s Church should show.
In the wake of local tragedy, a pastor during a Sunday service, invited everyone to use mud, dust, blood red paint, brushes and hands to express the anguish, angst & agony storming their souls. Thus, they plastered a chaotic messy mass, mingled with hearts and signs of hope and trust that there was a way through the debris and darkness.
The ability to lament, emotionally splurge your guts in grief, fills the Bible, schooling us in honest, open & direct dialogue with God. Disorientation, anxiety and anger with God are vented & hearts opened to healing; denial is eventually wrestled to the ground in acceptance of raw reality & hope.
We Brits & Scots don’t do this lamentation very well, despite Private Frazer’s cry in Dad’s Army, “We’re doomed ah tell ye!”In the quicksand of parliamentary chaos, sustained by denial, deceit, self-interest & face-saving, we need a good dose of lamentation, honest sorrow & crying out to God for the mess we’re in.
Jesus is our best mentor in lamentation! Nailed by hands & feet to wood his Christ’s curdling cry of desolation comes, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me!?”God, come in human form, absorbs & takes our world’s injustices to new depths. God doesn’t offer patronising platitudes to our cry of “Why!” & “How Long!?”He joins us in the chaos & mess to chart a way through them, no ‘bridge over troubled waters’ rather ‘a way through them’.
When Jeremiah could sink no further, he trusted God for a brighter day. In the dark rawness of reality precious hope in our scarred Captain Jesus can displace darkness as he navigates us through trial and storm to a ‘safe haven’.
“He ground my face into the gravel. He pounded me into the mud. I gave up on life altogether. I’ve forgotten what the good life is like. I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished. God is a lost cause.” It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God. I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.” (Lamentations 3:16-24 / MSG)
St Francis of Assisi characterised Christ’s Church & Calling well:
Make me a channel of your peace, where there is hatred let me bring your love
Where there is injury, your pardon Lord, & where there’s doubt true faith in You.
Make me a channel of your peace, where there is despair in life let me bring hope
Where there is darkness only light & where there’s sadness ever joy
Oh, Master grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand to be loved as to love with all my soul
Make me a channel of your peace, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in giving to others that we receive & in dying that we’re born to eternal life.
Martin Luther King Jr echoed Jesus’ when he said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”