Yesterday I wrote about the lack of and need for lament in Christian worship. Today I would like to continue that theme. In my post for World Communion Sunday, I shared a story about Sister Peggy, who I had the privilege of meeting when I was in El Salvador in January. Sister Peggy is an amazing theologian who is probably in her early 70s. She went to war-ravaged El Salvador in the mid-1980s at the height of that country’s civil war. She shared stories of absolute horror; stories that triggered emotion; stories that made me weep. Yet in the midst of it all, there was hope, and I believe that is because the Salvadoran people truly expressed their pain and named their anguish. Sister Peggy encouraged us to “live the lament.” The Salvadoran people experienced and lived with incredible and unimaginable pain. There is a Salvadoran saying, “We felt it in our very bodies; our own flesh.” Here in the United States we are focused on quick fixes; we long for ways to ease our pain and often go to great lengths and engage in damaging behavior to cover up our hurts. But that does not solve the problem or lead to healing. I have heard people in recovery and support groups say “You can’t heal what you don’t feel.” We would do well to “live the lament” in Christian worship. We cannot and should not hide our pain behind our smiles – that is not authentic worship. Only when we acknowledge and name our pain can we move toward healing in our lives and wholeness and honesty in our relationship with the Divine.
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