Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 28, 2020
How long, O Lord?
Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long shall I have perplexity in my mind,
and grief in my heart, day after day?
How long shall my enemy triumph over me?
Look upon me and answer me, O Lord my God;
give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over this one,”
and my foes rejoice that I have fallen.
But I put my trust in your mercy;
my heart is joyful because of your saving help.
I will sing to the Lord who has dealt with me richly;
I will praise the name of the Lord Most High.
Something to Do
DIY Scratch Paper
Lament is a holy form of prayer in which we lay our griefs and fears and our anger at God’s feet – knowing we are safe in doing so because God’s love and patience is strong enough to hold it all. “How long, O God?” cries the psalmist: “Will you hide your face from me forever?” Even in the midst of this sadness, though, the psalmist knows the answer to the question: “but I put my trust in your mercy”.
Create a visual response to this psalm through scratch art, in which lines are created by revealing the colours beneath a layer of black paint. You can purchase scratch paper or you can make your own – all you need is sturdy paper, oil pastels or crayons, liquid soap, and black tempera paint. This quick tutorial reveals just how simply it is.
But what about me, O Lord?
Write your own psalm of lament.
This article includes more information that is strictly necessary – although I thought the discussion on Hebrew poetic form was very interesting! Scroll down a bit to find the basic outline and some lovely examples for pouring your heart out to God in this ancient and powerful form.
A more thorough explanation for writing your own psalm of lament can be found at the bottom of this long but oh-so-worthwhile essay (also linked in the “Something to Learn” section below)
I will sing to the Lord
One of the things many of us miss the most right now is the experience of singing together – but don’t let that stop you from singing! Sing the blues or sweet sad folks songs. Sing angry rock anthems or songs of social change. Sing love songs or lullabies or wordless la-la-las.
Sing in the shower. Sing while you do the dishes. Sing to embarrass your kids. Crank up the volume and sing along with music you love.
And sing on your couch while hanging out with Ascension friends on Zoom this Thursday at 7pm!
Something to Wonder
How long, O Lord?
Perhaps this question feels particularly appropriate to you these days. If so, what are you particularly waiting for?
When is another time you have felt lost or forgotten and wondered how long it would last? How long did it last? How did it come to an end (or is it ongoing)?
I will sing to the Lord who has dealt with me richly…
The psalms of lament find their resolution in two movements: remembering God’s past faithfulness and affirming God’s future help.
Name the ways in which God has “dealt with you richly”, bringing you joy and strength and growth. Trace the line of those riches from your past to your present – even if they at times grow faint. Extend the line into your future and consider how they might play out in the days and years to come.
Something to Learn
From A Theology of Lament and Hope by J.E. Scully
“The Psalms of lament move back and forth between the expression of pain and the assurance of God’s presence and ultimate vanquishing of the causes of the pain. They do so in rapid turns of a verse or two or three, which can feel odd – in fact, they constitute a logical contradiction, but anyone who has experienced the paradoxical complexities of childbirth can relate to. Or, when holding a beloved one through critical illness or caring for a dying family member, one might live in a place where pain, anticipatory grief, and the graces of love and tender care are present in the same breath.”
This essay truly deserves your attention this week. You won’t be sorry.
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.