The Labor of Lament

TearsBy Ken Sehested, of Prayer & Politiks, written for an ecumenical “Service of Lament and Healing” following the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, MO. Inspired by Ps 6:6; 42:3; 80:5; 102:9; Luke 7:38

Who among you believe that
grieving and lamentation
are symptoms of despair.
Not so!
Only the hopeless are silent
in the face of calamity—
silenced because they no
longer aspire even to be heard,
much less heeded. The labor
of lament, on the other hand,
is premised on the expectation
that grief’s rule will be bound
by the Advent of Another.
The liturgy of grief transforms
the pain of lament into passion
for an outcome forged in justice
and tempered in mercy. Such an
outcome is not ours to impose
by strength of will or accomplished
by force of threat; yet it does demand
of us relentless struggle and steadfast resolve.

Come, you whose beds are awash
in weeping, you whose portion is
tear-mingled wine and bread of mourning.
Come, come to the mountain
of Refuge. There the Spirit,
as with Jesus before, kneels
ready to bathe your feet with her tears.
Hear this Word of assurance, you
of wavering endurance: the
moment nears when those sowing
in tears will reap shouts of
extravagant joy.

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