Yesterday, our worship service was a little different. The order was different and so was the content. It was a service of lament for the brokenness that is going on in our nation. A large part of it related to the racial brokenness, which are many other areas of brokenness too. That was our main focus. It affects so many areas of life that we are unaware of. Some of the areas affected by our brokenness are
- Our defensiveness when topics come up that might indicate we might play a part in the problem.
- Our difficulty in discussing issues separately. We hear a list of many problems related to racism, pick out a few that we can punch holes in with logic and ignore the others that relate to us. Why? We don’t want to change. Change is hard and painful.
- Our difficulty agreeing with issues that people we disagree with politically, religiously or in other important areas, believe. Yes, it is hard finding ourselves in agreement with people we disagree with in so many areas, but truth is truth. Sometimes they can be right. If they are right, we need to humble ourselves enough to say, “You are right in this area, even if I don’t always agree with you all the time. I need to change.”
- Our difficulty humbling ourselves at any time and admitting we have been wrong in our thinking and need to change.
Our church is mostly a white, middle class church. We would like to have more of a mix, but the fact is, we are mostly white with some adopted children of other races, some marriages where one spouse is of a different race and a few families here and there that are from a different race. But mostly, we are pretty white.
We are changing. All at different rates and in different ways, but we are changing.
We have been becoming more aware of the racial brokenness in our community and in ourselves. Many in our church are teachers or work in the community with all kinds of people. We also have medical people who work with a variety of people both professionally and having them as patients. Another large group from our church volunteer in the community in a variety of places that minister to the poor, including a variety of different races and language groups…mostly Spanish and Black, but there are other minorities in our area including Indian (from India) and Chinese and other Asian countries. Most of those groups are more affluent and work as engineers or doctors. Fortunately, GOD is changing each of us in different ways.
Back to our service of Lament
At any rate, this service started with songs that were not praise songs, but were more in the order of songs of lament. Then we read from Psalm 13 (see below), the sermon was given about what causes GOD weep as well as what causes us to weep. This was followed by a longer time of meditating on Psalm 13. We read portions aloud, paused to pray and think, then read aloud together.
There wasn’t anything fancy about it, but the end result was to think about our brokenness and the brokenness that caused so many of our racial situations now. There has been so much injustice over the years. It is definitely something to think about and be sad over rather than to feel defensive about.
As we worship before a holy GOD and allow Him to examine our hearts, He can make us aware of the changes that need to be made. It is not something we need to gin up from a heart of guilt. GOD makes clear what changes need to come about and offers forgiveness as well. As we listen and think about the times we have been silent when we could have intervened, there is definitely something to lament. We have much to take to GOD to repent for.
And as we move out into life?
We don’t have to languish in a situation of trying to defend ourselves for behavior that took place in the past. There was way too much injustice. If you think of one of your own family members being treated the way those slaves were when they were brought to this country, or the way they were treated when they were lynched simply because they were black, or the way they were treated when they were unable to get a loan or a job…just go down the list…. it is too long a list!
The wonderful thing is that GOD is ready to forgive us for the times we have failed to do the right thing, or chosen to do the evil thing. He also forgives when we have defended racism that was existing under our noses. Do we deserve forgiveness? No. But that is the wonderful thing about it. GOD forgives the undeserving. We can be forgiven for our sinful attitudes and unjust practices.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:1-6 ESV
Here is the link to the service we had if you are interested.
Here is the link to the bulletin of that service.