June 1, 2020

“How long, O Lord?” Those words of lament are repeated 10 times in the Psalms (Ps 6, 13, 35, 79, 80, 89, 90, and 94). We are in good company when we express our lament as prayer (a total of 42 Psalms are laments). I write this on Pentecost, what we think of as the Birthday of the Church. But as I reflect on what has been happening in our nation, the words, “How long, O Lord” are the words on my lips, not a song of celebration. Here is my Lament on Pentecost Sunday, 2020.

Holy One, Merciful and Just One, God of All Creation, and Our God; how long must your beloved people suffer and die;
how long must hate triumph over good, evil distortion over truth?

One hundred thousand COVID-lost souls join the voice of one trapped between knee and curb, pleading “I can’t breathe.”
Even our earth can’t breathe.

Right now, it seems, even breathing is dangerous.
The murderous breath of exhaled words, angry words, condemning words, hurtful words, powerful, words, another virus, killing body and soul. God-breathed living beings, breathing death, not life.

Come quickly to our aid, calm the anger, right the wrongs, deliver us from the horrors we have set loose;
before it is too late, your people and your earth, destroyed.

But you are the God of promise and redemption, of rainbow and resurrection,
of life and love,
and in you, I trust.

Breathe your Spirit upon us again, that we might breath life.

Breathing in Spirit, breathing out love – Pastor Anne

Perhaps you will want to write your own. If so, below are some suggestions, adapted from https://www.oneyearprayerexperiment.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/04_One-Year-Prayer- Experiment.com_Lament_.pdf:

Elements of Lament: Address God Directly

All prayer is personal communication, including lament. Open by directly addressing God.

During this season of COVID 19, St. Paul’s UCC Woodstock, VA offers these meditations as a service to the community.page1image54459200page1image54458048

Ask Heartfelt Questions

Bring before God our honest questions about what is going on around us. The questions

are not so much appeals for information as they are expressions of hurt and pain.

Describe the Afflictions

Tell God about the circumstances that arouse so much emotion within us. Go into detail,

name names if needed.

Pray for Deliverance

After sharing with God about the injustice and the suffering occurring right before us, ask

God to intervene. Ask God to deliver.

Express Confidence & Trust in God

After expressing our hurts and our pleas for help, we have reason for confidence because God’s got this. Praise God for God’s attributes which fill us with hope and confidence as we lean on God.

Some Tips for Lament:

We can pray a prayer of lament at any time. It can be a part of our usual prayer time, or it can be a stand-alone prayer. Whenever we are particularly bothered by life, it is time to lament.

As we pray, work through all the elements described above. The order is not set in stone, but the order is helpful. The Psalms shows us some variation, and even some repetition of the elements. Feel free to make it our own, but following the order, especially the first few times, will ensure a good flow. And it will ensure we finish by focusing on God – and not the troubles that caused us to lament.

While praying a prayer of lament, do not feel burdened to pray a long prayer. The Bible records both long and short prayers of lament. The length of our expression is not important, but our authenticity is. Don’t be long-winded, be honest.

During this season of COVID 19, St. Paul’s UCC Woodstock, VA offers these meditations as a service to the community.

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