A Time to Lament

For those of us who try to observe the Christian season of Lent (the 6 weeks before Easter), Lent 2020 has taken a shape we may not have expected. Because of the corona virus Covid-19, in common with many other parts of the world, we are in 'lockdown' - some of us more severely than others.

If you are usually a 'church going' Christian and planned to give something up for Lent, you probably had not expected to be compelled to give up 'going to church' in your habitual way. A meme by Daniel Eugene Crocker on the Facebook Page Episcopal Church Memes, made me smile recently. Against a plain black background it read,
"This is the Lentiest Lent I have ever Lented."
I put 'going to church' in inverted commas, because the church is primarily a community of believers. That community, the body of Christ, remains in communion together through abiding in Christ, even for those who have no access to modern electronic forms of communication. I am grateful for various forms of 'online' church, but conscious that not everyone has that privilege.

Yesterday was Passion Sunday, the day when Lent changes gear and the focus turns more intensely towards the suffering and death of Christ, a sacrifice offered in love for the whole world. I think it is more important than ever this year not to jump ahead too quickly to celebrating the joy of resurrection. I do see the value in encouragements to "stay positive" but there can be a danger in that. What I mean is that for some people, in putting on the "I'm OK" smile, or saying "there's always someone worse off", we can fail to acknowledge our own grief, or the sadness we feel for someone else. Yes, I do believe that ultimately "God is in control", but I also know that as yesterday' s gospel (John 11: 1 - 45) reminded us, Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. My image of God at this moment is of God weeping for the world and its people.

If ever there was a time to lament, it is in Passiontide and especially this year. So, in Kathryn's words from her online sermon for yesterday,
"...if you don't know how to pray - weep and let God share in that weeping".
Do read her whole sermon. It is addressed to the diaspora of Coventry Cathedral, telling them it is OK to lament, but also offering positive hope through the God who walks beside us and transforms all things.