Thought for the Day: A few weeks back during the Wednesday Studies, I focused on these words spoken by Jesus during his crucifixion. Jesus was offering a Lament, specifically quoting the first verse of Psalm 22. As I explained to the class, a Lament, in my opinion, is a tool that God provides humanity to help navigate pain and suffering. It is an attempt to give words to the emotions and experiences people have, specifically the emotions and experiences that too often are hushed by those who would rather not hear about them. Though the Lament is a specific genre, it doesn’t necessarily need to be poetic or even fit all the rules of grammar. A Lament can be a string of words, laced with an emotional sentiment that we have yet to fully articulate. I think this is where I have found myself these last few days as I have tried to craft a response to the eight murders in Atlanta. Yesterday’s attempt did not make it past the rough draft stage, and calling it a “rough draft” is probably an undeserved accolade. In moments like this, when we have seen hate and anger erupt in devastating violence, it seems appropriate for a minister of the Gospel to speak a word. Yet as of late, offering some spiritual platitude or hopeful inspiration seems more and more challenging. There is currently a debate over whether this will be deemed a hate crime or not. I don’t know all the technicalities in making such a determination, yet what I do know is that hate, mixed with unhealthy understandings of sexuality and toxic masculinity provide a sought after permission for those wanting a license to act upon their insecurities and fears. It is happening way too often in our society, and we have to acknowledge and confess our culture’s participation in the permission-giving. A Lament might appear to some as an meaningless gesture at this time, but I find it to be more than an empty self-serving offering. A Lament is what our spiritual-selves seek to do in moments like this so we might find a healthier mindset from which one can actually respond in a productive way.
Prayer: I’m angry – I’m heartbroken – I’m tired, yet I know nothing of what it is like to live a life where there are no breaks from the threats of violence, misogyny, bigotry. Holy God, allow for my laments, my prayerful grieving and frustration, to give rise to the hope of change, and then the willingness to be a participant in that change. Amen.
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Rev. Bruce Frogge