A time to mourn – Rah’s reflections on Lamentations

I just came a cross a blog post by Soong-Chan Rah entitled “A Time to Mourn” (dated 19th July 2013). Here are some selected excerpts. I will highlight a few things in blue.

Several different studies have shown that our liturgies, our hymnals, and our worship songs lack lament while disproportionately over-emphasizing triumphalist songs of praise. Our worship does not reflect the balance of praise and lament found in the Scripture … Even when lament is found, it is often a quick stop on our trajectory towards victorious praise psalms. We move quickly away from lament to praise because we want a nice, neatly wrapped narrative that meets our worldview.

One of the most important genres employed by the book of Lamentations is the funeral dirge. The funeral dirge reacts to a real death. When a death occurs, we cannot bury our head in the sand and operate out of denial. Something has died and we must deal with that reality.

Lament acknowledges that something is wrong with the world. Lamentations offers a real view of what has happened. It does not sugar coat the fact that God’s people are culpable in a corporate sin that has led to the fall of Jerusalem. It is hard truth telling that we are the reason for God’s judgment. We are the ones that have sinned before God.

Lamentations is characterized by a myriad of voices offering reflections on the tragic fall of Jerusalem … Rather than the strong and the powerful, Lamentations elevates the voice of the widows and the orphans. The marginalized voices hold the truth.

American Christians with power and privilege are often too quick to speak and too slow to listen … The most powerful act of Job’s friends was to rend their garments and sit and listen to their friend. Some would argue that the moment they opened their mouths is when they stopped being helpful friends.

Here, the author, a Korean-American, is reflecting on the recent Zimmerman verdict in the US. Being outside the US, I am not in a position to comment on the issue. But the points he makes in the excerpts above, especially in relation to Lamentations in the Bible, appear to make sense in many contexts and seem to be relevant to Christians in Australia.

(Rah’s blog post can be found here.)

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