|Image credit: patheos.com|
Lament, for people of faith, has been a popular genre for centuries. Prophets like Jeremiah were familiar with it. Many of the Psalms are laments—both communal and individual. Jesus lamented over the city of Jerusalem. Laments often originate out of the contexts of suffering and injustices. They address God by expressing, among other aspects of the human condition: pain and hurt, despair, doubt, anger, disappointment, impatience, and some of them even end with faith, hope and confidence. The longer COVID-19 lasts, the more I find myself lamenting over so many things in life that I probably took way too much for granted. Problems and issues on local, provincial, national and international levels that existed prior to the coronavirus seem to me to be even more pronounced now, during COVID-19. Suffering and injustices that, in our right hearts and minds, ought to draw us all closer together, seem to divide humankind even more. Violence and hatred seem to be flourishing, while love, kindness and non-violence wane. The rhetoric of some political leaders seems to be adding even more fuel to the fire. In light of so many people of faith over the centuries, I think one thing we all need to do is bring it all to God. In what follows is my all-too-imperfect and fragmentary attempt to do that.
A COVID-19 Lament-words by the Rev. Eclecticity (I wrote this as a litany for our recent area clergy cluster meeting.)
One: How long, O God must we cry to you before you deliver us?
All: This coronavirus has wreaked havoc with all humankind;
One: Do you not see? Do you not hear the cries of suffering and despair? Do you not care?
All: COVID-19 has made more explicit what many a prophet has known for so long;
One: That in times of trouble the rich and powerful are ever the more selfish and exploitative;
All: That the poorest of the poor are at greatest risk of being infected with the coronavirus
One: Since they lack adequate water to wash their hands;
All: Have little if any access to masks and sanitizer;
One: And far too many are overcrowded in refugee camps.
All: The old are often locked up in long-term care facilities and dying of loneliness;
One: Many are separated from their families and die alone in hospitals. We cannot even say goodbye to them and grieve properly together.
All: Church doors are closed, pastors and congregations miss corporate worship and koinonia.
One: How can we sing our songs without spreading the virus?
All: Come to us now in this time of need; deliver us from this ocean of death;
One: For you have promised to be with us always; so we commend our lives into your hands.
All: God of resurrection deliver us.