Good Afternoon Church,
Well, we’ve had a variety of spring weather the last few days haven’t we? From bright, warm, shining skies to rain, rain, and then more rain! But we’ll take it because the snowdrops are in full bloom, the crocus are beginning to flower, and the daffodils are in their warm ups!
Here’s the news for the week:
Festival of Sacred Music and Text This Sunday!
After a two-year hiatus, PIC’s Festival of Sacred Music and Text is back in person once again! This year it is being hosted at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Sunday, April 10th at 3pm (21 Castle Drive, Potsdam). Please come, listen to beautiful music and spoken word from a variety of different faiths and Christian traditions, and eat dessert at the reception to follow. There will be entries from the Mormon Church, the Catholic Church, the Masjid, the Christian Science Church, the Synagogue, the Quakers, and from us at the Presbyterian Church.
Tenebrae Service Set for Friday, April 15th, 7pm
This year for Good Friday we will be coming together to sit in the shadows with Jesus and the disciples, as we prepare our hearts and minds for the resurrection of Easter Sunday. This simple and moving service will give us a chance to plumb the silent depths of holy week, and find a spiritual posture that will put Easter in proper focus. I hope you’ll join us!
Coffee Hour is Coming!
Have you been practicing your coffee cup holding stance? I hope so, because you’re going to need it once again starting April 24th. In just a couple more weeks, we will be back to drinking coffee and nibbling cookies in the Center while we visit after the Sunday service!
Men’s and Women’s Lunches to Resume in April
Friends, the Pickards have returned from Florida, and are ready to organize our monthly lunch dates once again! Sharon will have all the details for April’s lunch dates during announcements on Sunday. (Stay tuned.)
Sitting with Jesus’ Lament
Did you know that our Bibles make room to rail at God? I was nearly an adult before I learned that, in the Bible, part of having reverence for God includes holding God’s feet to the fire sometimes.
Next week, as we witness Jesus on the cross, we will hear him cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!” Have you ever thought that that was a bit of a sassy thing to say to God? Well, when Jesus speaks these words, he’s actually quoting from Scripture, and in so doing, he participates in the long-standing tradition of offering spiritual lament.
To lament is to express deep sorrow, grief, or regret, and the Psalms are filled with hymns that express the depths of human struggle, as well as the fear, bitterness, anger, and sorrow that comes with feeling betrayed or abandoned by God.
If you ever wonder if it’s ok to yell at God, or question God’s presence, you might find it helpful to dig into the psalms of lament. They offer powerful examples of people’s honest moments of grappling around in the dark, as they seek to find God when he seems nowhere to be found.
Psalm 22, which Jesus quoted on the cross begins this way,
1-4 “Doubled up with pain, I call to God~Psalm 22:1-21, the Message Version
all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.
3-5 And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise?
We know you were there for our parents:
they cried for your help and you gave it;
they trusted and lived a good life.
6-8 And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm,
something to step on, to squash.
Everyone pokes fun at me;
they make faces at me, they shake their heads:
“Let’s see how God handles this one;
since God likes him so much, let him help him!”
9-11 And to think you were midwife at my birth,
setting me at my mother’s breasts!
When I left the womb you cradled me;
since the moment of birth you’ve been my God.
Then you moved far away
and trouble moved in next door.
I need a neighbor.
12-13 Herds of bulls come at me,
the raging bulls stampede,
Horns lowered, nostrils flaring,
like a herd of buffalo on the move.
14-15 I’m a bucket kicked over and spilled,
every joint in my body has been pulled apart.
My heart is a blob
of melted wax in my gut.
I’m dry as a bone,
my tongue black and swollen.
They have laid me out for burial
in the dirt.
16-18 Now packs of wild dogs come at me;
thugs gang up on me.
They pin me down hand and foot,
and lock me in a cage—a bag
Of bones in a cage, stared at
by every passerby.
They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,
and then throw dice for my clothes.
19-21 You, God—don’t put off my rescue!
Hurry and help me!
Don’t let them cut my throat;
don’t let those mongrels devour me.
If you don’t show up soon,
I’m done for—gored by the bulls,
meat for the lions.”
Psalms of lament always begin with raw, aching sorrow– with laying before the feet of God our true feelings. But they do not end there. While holding in balance the struggles and suffering of life, psalms of lament also hold the faith line. Even while sticking it to God for what God seems to not be doing, laments always end on a note of hope– of choosing to trust that somehow, some way, God is going to right what has been wrong.
Psalm 22 makes this shift into hope, beginning this way:
22-24 “Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
give glory, you sons of Jacob;
adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
never looked the other way
when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
he has been right there, listening.”
Friends, I don’t know what you’re going through today, but I hope that you can practice the dance of lament– of holding tenderly in your hands the balled-up messes we are of hope and struggle, trust and sorrow.
I hope you can be honest with God and still find room in your heart to say, “This is not going to be the end of my story. There’s more to come.”
Holding the faith line with you,