Psalm 3: A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
1 Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”[b]
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
7 Arise, Lord!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
This Psalm, written by David in one of his scariest moments, expresses his lament and calls out for God during it. He believes that God will answer, but such an answer hasn’t yet happened. It’s such a raw expression of faith: crying out that God will do what feels furthest from possible in that exact moment. He admits the danger, yet also roots it in hope.
Sometimes the most honest worship is through mourning. The most real expression through anger. The most faithful exchange through doubt. The most solid foundation formed by being shaken.
So, here goes nothing; a potentially too honest lament from a young pastor:
I am mourning. Mourning the loss of our physical presence worshipping together. Mourning the various losses our people are experiencing. Mourning the extra burdens placed upon families. Mourning the loss of life, of jobs, of security, of peace, of tranquility, and darn it, of trust.
I am angry. Angry that this could have been potentially avoided. Angry that bi partisanship informs us more than the politics and Kingdom of Jesus. Angry that we are distrustful and skeptical of our neighbors. Angry in a way I can’t perfectly articulate without getting worked up about it sometimes.
I am doubtful. Doubtful that my own reasons for mourning or anger are, in fact, informed by what I want them to be informed by. Doubtful that my intentions are pure, so to speak. Doubtful that I know best how to spend my time, both actively and mindfully. Doubtful that I know what to do.
I am being shaken. Shaken by the whispers I hear in the dark. Shaken by article, after article, after article of woe. Shaken by the priorities exposed by humanity when they are willing to threaten the safety of others in the name of convenience. Shaken that this is being done in the name of Jesus.
“Can I be real a second? For just a millisecond? Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?”
Jürgen Moltmann once observed that the cry of the human experience was uttered by Christ when he said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” For so many, that’s all too true.
There will be a new future, not a return to an old normal. We are in the same storm, not in the same boat. Some will have experienced irretrievable loss the magnitude of which cannot be fathomed by those who only long for a return to what was. Such lives need more than warm wishes, a pat on the back, or the expression that things will be okay.
And honestly, the only way I know how to provide that is through solidarity, prayer, and the forthright confession that there is no possible way anyone can survive the mourning, anger, doubt, or being shaken alone.
In the name of God: we need each other. Deeply. Truly. Mournfully. What is it to be human than to admit our dependence upon the other?
Continue to be kind to those around you. Continue to be an example of God’s presence among us. Continue to lead by example. Continue to be what FCC has strived to be since our founding.
I leave you with this link featuring a very different Christine and Ben from five years ago singing in our group, “The Olivetians”. The song is titled “Thou, O Lord” and it is a musical setting of Psalm 3. Maybe it will say something to some of you.
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd–FBYfuB4