Bringing Tears to God

Bringing Tears to God

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Rev. Maxwell Grant is the Senior Minister of Second Congregational Church of Greenwich, Connecticut, and serves on the board of the Congregational Library and Archive in Boston. 

Scripture: Psalm 137:3  (NRSV)

"For there our captors
   asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
   ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"


Reflection: Bringing Tears to God

 

This week, I saw an ad on the internet from an antiques dealer selling a lachrymatory — a “tear catcher” — supposedly from the first century CE.

Tear catchers, I learned, were small glass bottles with long stems and a wide mouth, designed to catch human tears, and were then left at burial sites in Ancient Judea as a sign of respect and love for the departed.  

It’s troubling to think of such an object as something for sale, particularly because the sacred mysteries of grief and memory, letting go and holding on, seem far too precious to be traded, even when the tears are not our own. 

It feels as if, in a deeper sense, they should be ours, too. 

Along those lines, all of this week’s lectionary readings remind us that practices of lament are an important part of faithful witness. 

Maybe that’s Scripture’s way of teaching us how to remember that while time may evaporate tears, our work under God is to dry them. 

First of all, by bringing them to God.  

Habbakuk says: “I will stand at my watchpost and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint” (Habbakuk 2:1). 

Meanwhile in Luke, when the apostles ask for their faith to be increased, Jesus speaks sternly about mustard seeds and the danger of entitled expectations—ways even the most religiously punctilious can seek to avoid wrestling with the questions that heartbreak and injustice push us to lift up.  

The psalmist writes from a place in which grief and injustice, and questions about where God might be in the midst of it, can’t be denied.  

It is a bold reminder that God is so often to be found precisely where the easy answers and the lukewarm affirmations cease.   

This is the place where the Real, “full of grace and truth,” must finally arrive.  

PRAYER

Source of grace and truth, teach us to keep watch and to know you especially in the moments when life gets real, remembering that the deepest truth about Creation is the reality of your love.  Amen.  

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at cochranem@sneucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~32,400 gun violence deaths in the US this year.
  • For those facing hurricane season, including folks living in the parts of Puerto Rico that were battered by Hurricane Fiona.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:


 This Week in History:

September 25, 1957 (65 years ago): Under escort from the U.S. Army, nine Black students entered all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, to begin their first full day of classes while local officials and crowds tried to block integration of the school. [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Confucius

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Max Grant

The Rev. R. Maxwell Grant is pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Greenwich.

September 25, 2022
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