This week's author is Karen Ziel, Minister of Faith Formation and Leadership for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Lamentations 1: 8 (CEB)
Jerusalem has sinned greatly; therefore, she's become a joke.
All who honored her now detest her, for they've seen her naked.
Even she groans and turns away.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines lament as:
1. To express sorrow, regret, or unhappiness about something
2. To express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively
I believe strongly in the power of lament. I believe it is a spiritual practice we must reclaim. True lament can open our hearts, sustain us and become our prayer when words of grief, mourning or regret won't come. A lament can name the evil we are or have experienced. The injustice within or the suffering of the community is expressed openly for all to engage. It is an individual and corporate practice. Lament is a practice of solidarity and witness.
Reading this beautiful poetry this week in preparation for reflection has unsettled, yet strangely comforted me. It has challenged me and opened me. It has offered me a place of refuge in my fear, but not from my fear. It has been a source of expression for an experience of culture and community that my own words cannot currently articulate in my time of prayer. In these words are warning, humiliation, and desperation.
In the current climate of our culture, as I yet again witness the horrific shooting of another black man, I lament. I lament our current and continuing racial divides. I lament families who have lost loved ones in abhorrent circumstances. I lament the loss of a culture or society that would lament together openly these losses, injustices and instead, would ridicule those who do.
I lament my own inability to be an effective ally. I lament the exposure our children have to continued bias, intolerance, dis-ease within the human community of our country and our world. I lament.
I could end this reflection with a hopeful word. I could attempt to inspire by relating the power of this practice through an anecdote or personal experience.
Today, I would rather end with the words of my colleague, Rev. Day McCallister as she returned from Ferguson, MO., in 2014. In her E-mail to authorized ministers, she wrote:
"Gather for yourself the supplies and sustenance you will need. Be well-informed and spiritually centered. Create safe space to meet and enter into conversation ? to lament and give thanks ? to share reactions, fears and hopes. It may be immediate or within 24 or 48 hours. Gather the resources needed to support honest engagement undertaken in covenant, with a goal of unmasking, dismantling and eradicating racism."
Today, more than ever, I would invite you into such a time, for such a times as these. I would invite you into the heart-wrenching, yet powerful poetry that is Lamentations.
God of many names, God of children of every hue, create in us a clean heart. Look at our suffering. We are crying. Our eyes pour water. Where is our Comforter? Our children are destroyed. Listen and look at our suffering. Be present- as you would have us be present in this time of deeply routed division. Amen.
Special Prayer Requests:
those grieving in Burlington, WA after a shooting at a mall left 5 dead on Sept. 23;
those suffering or grieving in Houston, TX after a shooting left nine injured and a suspect dead on Sept. 26; and
hope for a lasting peace in Colombia where a Peace Agreement signed Sept. 26 promises to end 5 decades of conflict.
Those injured when a bomb exploded in New York City on July 17, injuring nearly 30;
the family and friend;ds of Rachel Ciba Markowitz, daughter of Rev. Michael Ciba and Diane Ciba, who died on Sept 16;
the family and friends of Rev. Aubrey Murphy, Associate Pastor Emeritus of First Congregational Church of Bristol, and member of East Granby Congregational Church, who died on August 30;
the family and friends of C. Freeman Reynolds, father of the Rev. Carl Reynolds, pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Stafford, longtime member of the First Church of Christ in Farmington, and former member of the Lay, Life and Leadership Committee for the Conference. Mr. Reynolds died recently at age 98;
the family and friends of Andrew Leclaire, Sr. nephew of Steve Gilson and Cecile Gilson, Executive Assistant to the Conference Minister, who lost his battle with ALS on August 28th;
the family and friends of Rev. Robert Lane, retired UCC minister, who died on August 15;
the Rev. Barbara Frey, Coordinator of Christian Education at the Spring Glen CC in Hamden, whose mother died on August 13;
those grieving or suffering in Turkey after a suicide bomber attacked a wedding killing more than 50 guests on August 20;
those effected by wildfires in western regions of our nation;
those grieving or suffering after a flash flood in Maryland killed two and destroyed dozens of buildings and vehicles on Aug. 30;
Rev. M. John Arens, Pastor of the New Preston Congregational Church, who had surgery on June 28;
Rev. Da Vita McCallister, Associate Conference Minister for Leadership and Vitality, and her family as they face a loss and difficult illness in the family;
The Rev. Sara Smith, pastor of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport, and her sister Ellen, who is recovering from a stroke;
Rev. Kelly Hough Rogers, Associate Pastor of the Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, whose parents were involved in a tragic car accident. Kelly?s father, Wallace, has died and her mother, Janet, is hospitalized;
Rev. Pat Kriss, Pastor of First Congregational Church in Danbury, who is recovering from an injury;
Michael White, former Operations Manager at Silver Lake Conference Center, who was diagnosed with colon cancer;
Juliane Silver, the daughter of the Rev. Jim Silver of Middletown, who is in dire need of a liver transplant. We pray that a donor will come forward giving the gift of life and a portion of their liver to Juliane;
members and Staff of the United Congregational Church of Tolland as they minister to church and community grieving a tragic loss;
the Rev. Dr. Don Westerberg, Pastoral Counselor in New Milford, who recently received a lung transplant and is recovering;
Ewan, grandson of the Rev. Price van der Swaagh, an ordained minister in this conference, as he is treated for leukemia;
Chacy Eveland, husband of the Rev. Marcia Eveland, pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC of Ansonia, who has been moved to a full-time facility for care of dementia;
the Rev. Mary Nelson, South Central Regional Minister of the Connecticut Conference, whose brother is recovering from surgery;
Alisia Selders, daughter of Bishop John Selders, pastor of Amistad UCC in Hartford, in a new round of treatment for cancer;
the thousands of migrants worldwide who flee from violence and persecution in search of safety;
our ecumenical partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery in South Korea;
the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
the leaders of this nation, that they may meet the challenges of the day with insight, wisdom, and compassion;
this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism;
those suffering due to the ongoing financial woes of the nation, be they struggling to meet an unaffordable mortgage, seeking employment, or working to find just resolutions; and
those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck.
To be added to the prayer list, please send an email to Drew Page at: email@example.com.
Please Remember These
Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers
Ridgebury Congregational UCC
Frank Basler - DT
The First Congregational Church of Ridgefield
Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe - SP
Karen Anne Halac - AP
Edwin R. Taylor - MM
Videen Bennett - OL
Riverton Congregational Church
Ellen Petersen - DT
Rocky Hill Congregational Church, UCC
Church Pastoral Staff
Craig L Cowing - P
United Church of Rowayton
Church Pastoral Staff
John S. Livingston - P
Sally Stansbury - CE
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Karen Ziel is the Assistant Director of the Center for Transformational Leadership (CTL) at the Southern New England Conference. She can help congregations and their leaders with tools and resources for assessment and discernment. As a member of ...