Sunday Reflections, February 14, 2016: Why Do We Lament?

By February 15, 2016Lament, Lent

“Lament is the unfiltered animal cry of our soul.”

Last night, on a snowy, blustery February evening, Jonathan Martin Invited us into this great mystery and Lenten theme of lament, marking the first week of our corporate Lenten journey.

In a faith expression dominated by major keys and uplifting words of hope and thanksgiving, conversations of lament can seem out of place. But if you’re anything like me, the absence of lament in a regular rhythm of worship causes me to feel out of place. I have often wondered as a Christian, where do I bring my anger, my hopelessness, my despair, my frustration, my protest and my hurt? Because I do feel those things. Just because I am a Christian, does not mean those parts of me have disappeared over night. Many times I have wondered, what can I do with it apart from stuff it down and hope it doesn’t leak out sideways at others or at God? For too long, I believe we have cauterized these bleeding wounds, for fear that they mean we don’t belong, or we’re being inappropriate, when all along the Bible has been full of this precious gift of lament.

We began our opening liturgy by singing a soulful lament, I want Jesus to walk with me.

In my trials, Lord, walk with me
In my trials, Lord, walk with me
When strength is failing
I want Jesus to walk with me

In my sorrows, Lord walk with me
In my sorrows, Lord walk with me
When my heart is aching
I want Jesus to walk with me

In my troubles, Lord walk with me
In my troubles, Lord walk with me
When my life seems a burden
I want Jesus to walk with me

You may not have thought this song a lament before, but it contains the honest and raw acknowledgement that trials, sorrows and troubles are present, that strength can fail, hearts can ache and life can be a burden – yet in the midst of it all, it reveals the desire for Jesus to remain present in the midst of it all.

Our opening liturgy led us through the story we know and need so well, prayers for our world (beautifully penned by the gifted Sam Ogles, and led by Sam and Katie Ro), a confession and assurance, and passing the peace of Christ.

A new element of our service that we introduced last night for Lent, was the sharing of stories from those in our community who are participating in the Lenten Experiment that Mark Scandrette guided us through last time we gathered. John Perrine shared that all throughout Lent, we will be inviting stories from the community to be shared with the room, to both model and build a picture of what these practices and experiments can look like. Last night, our dear friends Jason and Erin Feffer bravely and vulnerably shared their Lenten experiments with the room, guiding us through their thought processes to show us how they arrived at their practices for mind, body and resources to use during Lent. I hope that the sharing of these stories and experiments continues to encourage and bind us together in the truth that none of us are perfect, all of us are journeying, and for some of us, an experiment is just the right engagement this Lent to seek new life in dying places.

After praying for Jason and Erin, we welcomed Jonathan Martin to share with us (which FYI almost didn’t happen due to the insane flight delay, snow storm and travel conundrums he faced throughout the day! Thank God for traveling mercies – he made it). You can listen to Jonathan’s message here below or on the Practice Podcast.


Jonathan powerfully preached an invitation for us all to consider lament, sharing that, “Lament is the unfiltered animal cry of our soul.” It is deep prayer that tries to articulate in the presence of God those painful, raw, animal emotions and experiences that catch in our throat and cause hot tears to well in our eyes. Lament is the hard practice of putting words to those parts of our lives in which words fail us, and in so doing we are drawn closer, and deeper to God, cracking open a door for resurrection to enter in.

In order to familiarize and connect ourselves to lament, our practice for the evening was a lectio divina of Psalm 6. It was our desire that after having heard this grand invitation and vision for the importance of lament, that holding one in your hands, hearing one read aloud in your ears, and stirring one in your heart might begin to show each of us the spaces in which we can find ourselves in these raw Bible passages. The remarkable Fr. Michael Sparough led us through the practice, reading the text over us three times, each time pausing in between to pay attention to the words, phrases and emotions that stirred our hearts. If you have never spent time in lament before I commend this practice to you, that you might become familiar and acquainted with the Psalters cries as you begin to articulate and find permission for your own.

We then culminated, as we do every week, at the table. Bringing our longing, our heartache and our brokenness before God as we partook in his body and blood through the holy sacrament of communion. It was a true testimony that we can partake in every season of the soul, and that we can truly bring our whole selves before Christ to receive His whole self.

Friends, our Kingdom Practices for this week are simple,

  1. Read the Psalms of lament. Begin to expose yourself to the scriptures that model this important practice and try to see if they resonate with any aches you may have felt. There are many Psalms of lament, both personal and corporate. Here are a few personal Psalms to get you started; 3, 4, 5, 7, 9-10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 25
  2. Stay curious about the areas in your life that you may want to lament this Lenten season. Next week, Curtis Miller will lead us into, “What is Biblical Lament?” to help us better get a grasp of the parameters of what biblical lament looks like, and more specifically what kinds of things the Bible lamented and how that connects to what we can lament today.
  3. Finally, check back on the blog later this week, we’ll be posting more resources on Lent and lament to help us keep diving deeper.

Grace and Peace for the journey,

Jenna Perrine & The Practice Team

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Janet says:

    I am so glad I took the time to listen to this, this morning. I was involved in a church that really did not recognize Lent or Lament. A feel good type of church. I felt there was nowhere within my church body to feel the hurt or sadness I am experiencing. I walked out 10 weeks ago. I hope to find a place to worship again. To feel, the feels and to walk through the seasons of the church. I’m not sure where that is or if that exists in my neck of the woods. I am grateful for this today. Thank you.

  • Joanna beattie says:

    I loved this material on lamenting. Far too often in western culture we are corporately conforming to one dimensional worship. Everyone was singing happy days and clapping last sun night in worship. I found it hard to believe in the large gathering that everyone truly felt the same . My husband died suddenly in December and it most certainly was not happy days! So what do those who are experiencing dark nights in their souls do? If I was to conform I would be denying such a huge part of me which effectively I want to name and acknowledge and bring before God for restoration. This teaching is honest soul searching and meaningful. We are fearfully and wonderfully made with an array of God given emotions that are not shameful but unite us as vulnerable, fragile and beautiful. I love the deep crying out to deep authentistic relationships we could experience with others, ourselves and ultimately with God. Thank you Jenna and co God bless your wonderful ministry!!

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