Sunday, April 25, 2010


Well...its been a long while for those of you who still read this. Tonight's musings revolve around the church and crisis, because right now my heart is heavy with worry and confusion. So why is it that, by and large, today's church hymnals and our praise and worship PowerPoint slides lack songs for times of crisis - crisis of faith, crisis of life, crisis of conscience? The most famous hymn (Psalm) Jesus quotes is Psalm 22: "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?," a line originally attributed to David. If God's Son can feel forsaken, should we not also expect times of life where this also applies to us as his followers? Where nothing makes sense, and the "will of God" does not match our own in the slightest?

In New Testament class, our last several assignments have involved reading an entire gospel in one sitting (sometimes it is more like 2 or 3 sittings for me, but the idea is large chunks together, all if it in a short period of time). This has been an invaluable experience, but one recurring theme in Matthew and Mark is the faith that spurs miracles. Jesus heals when a miracle is performed often (not always) because of the faith of the person (or of their friends, like in the case of the man lowered through the roof on a mat). When faith is lacking, so are the miracles. This relationship is impossible to avoid, and yet in my own life, I find the correlation much less common. Making sense of this discrepancy is what leads me to title this blog 'crisis.' I am not in a crisis of faith as such, for I know that God exists beyond a shadow of a doubt and that God is love. This can never be shaken from my being. But why has God forsaken me - that is an altogether different question.

Worshiping in my church with this underlying question at the root of my current relationship status with God feels ... dissatisfying, I guess. When I know the songs will be upbeat praise tunes, how can I authentically question and wonder in worship? Certainly affirming God's goodness even while lamenting is biblical and good for the soul. But what is missing is the lamenting part. How do we reintroduce the lament into church (as the Psalmists so wisely did in the Psalter), so that both God's goodness and God's sometimes confusing, undeniable Otherness are both affirmed and so that no one feels the need to be fake in worship? Perhaps the answer lies not so much in song choice as in worshiping with people who care about you, who know where you are at, and who lament with you when you need to lament, and who rejoice with you when you need to rejoice, and who share Eucharist with you regardless. May I learn how to follow Paul's advice, to "rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances" with sincerity of heart, and may we as a church learn how to lament in worship with those who mourn.


UaMV said...

Thank you for having lamented with me.

Michael said...

Have you ever read Peter Rollins? I am not big into emergent church folks, but he does a good job on nicking alot of the mystics and church fathers on this. He talks about the essential woundedness of Christianity. We are a religion that ritualizes crisis itself. Our biggest mystery is cross and ressurection. As you wrote, on the cross jesus said "my god, my god, why have you abandoned me." Simone Weil writes about how god crosses the infinite gap that the person in affliction experiences. Affliction is a state which destroys the possibility of encountering god. Thus in this furthest distance from God, where we feel utterly abandoned, that is where the cross is. Christ who suffers with us suffers the depth of human suffering in the abandoment of god. As rollins says, it is on the cross where god doubts god. He thus says to beleive is human and to doubt is divine.
For me our doubt is a part of our journey. It is not something to be ashamed of. There is a prayer in the "hearts on fire" prayer book from the jesuits called the litany of contraries that says "doubt and faith, let them grow together." If all our church sings is praise, then it is missing the psalms, it is missing job, it is missing the "vanity, vanity it is all vanities. As leaders of the church, we need to help our church embrace the full human experience as God already does... I've been thinking about this alot cause i just helped plan a conference last week called worship in crisis:
I hope all is well for you! If you're ever in chicago, drop me a line.

Michael said...