Mourning & Lamentation (Part I)

Coming together to express grief, or, you might say, ‘to allow grief to overtake us’, is an act of trust and of hope. The hope being, that by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we might meet God at his table of lamentation: an awful, hurting and yet lovely—in the sense of enchanting—place. So, what exactly might this might look like?

When we face tough things, we are told that ‘In quietness and in trust shall be your strength…’ (Isaiah 30:15); so the things expressed here are familiar territory for many of us: it’s the music that lives in the hearts of those who have abandoned themselves to Jesus, who live as shepherds and priests to a broken world. But every now and then a refrain in the music seems to reach some kind of crescendo, as if God is shouting, telling us that a great crisis—a great opportunity—has arrived and we might be about to miss the boat altogether. We even wonder whether perhaps the boat moved on a long time ago.

Leader’s responses can range from attempts to fix the problem, to pray harder, to work harder, to cheerlead, to blame: to get defensive with those who voice disappointment, and—to be fair on our leaders—we will find that they most likely will have already tried to engage in genuine efforts at corporate mourning.

Having said that, voiced disappointment—from within an organisation and from its beneficiaries and/or those hostile to it—sometimes grows clear and precise. Leaders need to listen carefully because sometimes rather than just being a voice of grumpy ingratitude, it can be the voice of the Holy Spirit, urging us to pray and to consider lamentation, in particular, public lamentation.

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