“Lament is a crying out – in the midst of a world tainted by sin, sorrow, pain and confusion – to a good God who has the power to change a given situation,” says Stacey Gleddiesmith, program director of worship arts at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C.
Lament in church is an important part of worship. Here are Stacey’s tips for incorporating lament into church.
by Stacey Gleddiesmith
Select a different international or local struggle to pray for each week. Choose people to pray who are passionate about issues such as poverty and injustice. Have them pray with compassion, but ask them not to be afraid to call those responsible to account before God.
Break into small groups to pray over a certain issue or struggle (or many different issues and struggles). Give groups some background information and the basic structure of a lament psalm to help them to identify with the issue they are praying over. Be specific. It’s a lot harder to effectively pray about injustice than about re-emerging violence between the Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda.
If you have refugees in your congregation, ask them to tell their stories. Plan a special service to cry out with them on behalf of their country, or take some time out of the service every week to do so.
Learn what injustice, pain and poverty exist in your church’s neighborhood. Plan a service of lament for your neighborhood and invite the public to participate with you in laying their struggles before God.
When you pray for a given area of the world, try to find a work of art by an artist who lives (or lived) there that communicates some of the struggle and pain experienced by people in that area. Contextualize the work of art for your congregation and then encourage them to pray into what they are seeing.
For other thoughtful resources from Stacey, visit her blog at www.thinkingworship.com
Read “Joy in Lament” in the latest Faith Today. Subscribe now until the end of February to receive the lowest price ever.
(SOURCE: REFORMED WORSHIP, DECEMBER 2010)