I have recently read several articles naming something that we are all navigating in our own way – grief. Whether it’s because of something that has already been lost or those things we fear losing in the face of immense uncertainty, we are all experiencing a collective form of grief. For some, this may be compounding a recent loss. For others, there may be underlying traumas that have never really been resolved. Grief is a complicated mix of emotions and responses that is inherently human.
The people of Judah knew the grief of loss and separation well, as they lived for generations in exile. Perhaps you can identify with the sense of loss and despair as the Psalmist laments, “How could we possibly sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil?” As the church, we are seeking and learning new ways of being in community. Something like online worship which might have seemed a substitute for the real thing has now become a primary way of maintaining our connection as the Body of Christ.
If you read the remainder of Psalm 137, you’ll find that there is no resolution and not much hope in its words. Instead it speaks of retribution and revenge, expressing a deep anger in response to suffering. Look ahead to Psalm 138, however, and you’ll find these words of hope: “On the day I cried out, you answered me. You encouraged me with inner strength.” (v. 3) Here is an invitation to cry out – to claim your grief and name your despair – and a promise of God’s response.
In the midst of our uncertainty and in the face of our fear there are signs of strength and acts of hope. When I contact members of our congregation, I find that others have been in touch with them as well. People ask for addresses and phone numbers so that they can reach out to offer comfort and support. Many people were able to participate in worship online, while others read scripture and prayed on their own. Together, each in our own ways, we are singing the Lord’s song.
Please continue to connect with one another. Reach out to people you know – and even people you don’t – to maintain Christian community. Join us for online worship if you’re able to; if you’re not, continue your personal study and prayer. If you are able, continue to make an offering to the church by mail (or if you would like to sign up for electronic giving call or email and we will have Kathy Franklin contact you). We will not stop being the church. We will keep singing the Lord’s song.
Please know that I pray for you every day, and I appreciate your prayers for me. I truly believe that when we cry out to God we are heard, and God answers. That is my hope. That is my song.
Peace for the journey,