About 35 people assembled in the chancel of Caldwell Chapel Monday night for a worship service that began this week with prayer, song, and meditation. The worship service, led by Rev. Dr. Johanna Bos and Th.M. student Courtney Hoekstra, included reflections on the many forms taken by violence against women. Images and statistics permitted three specific cases to stand for all violence. Music from Megan Case and Brennan Pearson gave subtle shape to silent reflection and helped the group sing its prayer for healing and relief.
So the week began with lament.
Lament is part of our tradition. It is embedded in scripture — well beyond the book of Lamentations, it constitutes most of Psalms, and much of the prophetic literature. Jesus, famously, laments over Jerusalem, with the marvelous image of gathering its suffering children under a sheltering maternal wing. And while worship planners often pass up lament, looking for more encouraging and upbeat texts and moods, we do well to remember that we live lives in a world that daily makes lament fitting.
Fitting, and therefor, also satisfying worship. Sometimes — often? — we are tempted to pass quickly over the concerns to get to the joys, to hurry through the valley of death to get to the table on the other side. Not everyone can hurry, however. Worship that rushes to rejoice, bypassing lament, leaves behind those whose path winds through that valley. Lament slows us down; we walk together through that rough place, bringing the confidence of hope to that solidarity.