Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church (ELCIC) Comox BC

Lenten Devotions

Week Two: “Little” Laments

Music

Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying (youtube.com)

Reading: Psalm 42 (ELW)

As the deer

longs for the water-brooks,

          so longs my soul for you, O God.

I thirst for God, for the living God.

          when shall I come to appear

          before the presence of God?

My tears have been my food    

day and night,

          while all day long they say to me,

“Where now is your God?”

I pour out my soul

when I think on these things;

          how I went with the multitude

          and led them into the house of God,

          with shouts of thanksgiving,

          among those keeping festival.

Why are you so full of heaviness,

O my soul, and why are you

so disquieted within me?

          Put your trust in God,

          for I will yet give thanks to the one

          who is my help and my God.

6My soul is heavy within me;

          therefore I will remember you

          from the land of the Jordan,

          and from the peak of Mizer

          among the heights of Hermon.

7One deep calls to another

in the roar of your cascades;

          all your rapids and floods

          have gone over me.

8The LORD grants lovingkindness

in the daytime;

          in the night season

          the Lord’s song is with me,

          a prayer to the God of my life.

9I will say to the God of my strength,

“Why have you rejected me,

          and why do I wander in such gloom

          while the enemy oppresses me?”

10While my bones are being broken,

my enemies mock me to my face;

          all day long they mock me and say to me,

          “Where now is your God?”

11Why are you so full of heaviness,

O my soul, and why are you

so disquieted within me:

          Put your trust in God,

          for I will yet give thanks to the one

          who is my help and my God.

This week we turn to the so-called “little” laments, those things that in the big picture of life seem small. When they begin to add up, they do not seem so “little”! Grief, worry, loneliness, feelings of helplessness, fear, hurting physically or mentally or watching a loved one do so, disappointments, having too much to do in too short a time, having too many people wanting us to do things for them, being  harassed, having the cost of our housing rise, and the like accumulate until our limits are stretched and we feel overwhelmed!

Yet these times give us an opportunity to learn how to work through them by offering them to the God of the universe, a God who has broad shoulders and listening ears, and who has space and time for even the “little” hurts and problems. God’s compassion is always there, and God is always walking with us. The practice we get at giving the “little” laments to God,prepares us to turn over the huge laments as well when those come along.

Jesus gives us some pointers on how to deal with these “little” laments:

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

And after [Jesus] had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.” (Matthew 14: 23a)

“15 But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds were gathering to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. 16 Meanwhile, he would slip away to deserted places and pray.” (Luke 5:15-16)

What kind of “little” laments have you experienced? How have you moved through those times? Why does Jesus spend time alone in prayer? How might doing the same help us?

Music:

Many times music speaks to us in ways that words do not. Here are some pieces of music to guide you in this discipline of lament:

CityAlight - Psalm 42 (I Will Praise Him Again) Live (youtube.com)

Lord From Sorrows Deep I Call (Psalm 42) (youtube.com)

O God, You Search Me and You Know Me [with lyrics for congregations] (youtube.com)

If You But Trust in God to Guide You - Hymn Sing-Along with Lyrics (youtube.com)

How Can I Keep From Singing - Audrey Assad (youtube.com)

Dear Fear (Official Music Video) - Mat and Savanna Shaw - Daddy Daughter Duet (youtube.com)

 A Prayer

God our refuge and our strength, our present help in times of trouble. Strengthen us in body, mind and spirit. Refresh us when weary, console us when anxious,comfort us in grief and hearten us in discouragement. Remove the fears that attack us. Guard, guide and protect us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. (Adapted from page 85 ELW )

Week One: What is Lament?

 Reading: Lamentations 3:19-26

19 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! 20 My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, [God’s ]mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in [God].” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for [the Lord], to the soul that seeks [the Lord].26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Music

Take it to the Lord in Prayer (youtube.com)

 What is lament? It is an appeal to God to pay attention to our problems and to act for us. It assumes that God, who has brought us into relationship with Godself, will answer! The scriptures are full of examples of God’s faithful people who offer sorrowful or angry prayers to God. Jesus laments over Jerusalem -“As he came near and saw the city [Jerusalem], he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42)  - and weeps at the death of a friend-   When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him [Lazarus]?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep.” (John 11:33-35)

To lament, to grieve, to weep- these are all part of life including the life of faith. Often we too quickly push aside our feelings of grief, loss, worry, or troubles for they make us uncomfortable. We have lost in many ways the spiritual discipline of lament: acknowledging that these things are part of our everyday lives, holding that which troubles us, and then placing it in God’s hands- gently or forcibly! This Lent we will explore some of the laments found in scripture and relearn the gift and discipline of holy lament.

Some additional readings:

Matthew 11:28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Hebrews 5:7 “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” 

 Music:

Many times music speaks to us in ways that words do not. Here are some pieces of music to guide you in this discipline of lament:

God, When I Stand, No Path Before Me (youtube.com)   

Sometimes Our Only Song Is Weeping (with lyrics) All Creation Sings 1050 (youtube.com)

Christ Is the Life - ELW/ACS 927 - YouTube

O God, to You I Cry in Pain - ELW/ACS 1021 (youtube.com)

"Great is Thy Faithfulness" 300 Voice Mass Choir for Classic Hymns album - Lyrics Video (youtube.com)

Before the Waters Nourished Earth - ELW/ACS 1049 (youtube.com) 

A Prayer

Holy three, holy one, take away the worry that makes nothing better and give us a peaceful spirit of trust in you. Show us the blessings that are ours for good: your forgiveness for our wrong actions and mistaken choices, your healing for our weary bodies and wounded spirits, your promise of love that we cannot earn and never deserve. Teach us to let go of the things that hurt us and others: the pride that stops us from asking for help, the self-doubt that paralyses us, the resentment that blames and envies others. Give us the energy to make a difference to others, in conversations where burdens are shared, in practical help where resources are shared, in prayer where griefs and longings are named and offered to you. Amen.  (Adapted from B.C. Synod News 2023)

 

Introduction to Lenten Devotions 2024

During the season of Lent we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbour. It is a discipline of self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love. It is time when we seek to be strengthened by gifts of word, sacrament and prayer.

This year we are going to explore the discipline of lament in the Bible and in our lives. Lament is NOT a complaint against a God who does not care. It IS “an appeal to God based on confidence in [God’s] character.” (Five Things to Know About Lament - N.T. Wright Online (ntwrightonline.org)) It is a form of prayer that pleads for God to pay attention to our problems and to act on our behalf.  It is a prayer in the now and anticipates God’s answers and promises to praise God for God’s deliverance. As we approach our God in humility and honesty, and admit there are things too big for us to bear, we will find God weeping with us, transforming our grief and disappointment into holy joy and renewed hope. Jesus will walk with us to the cross, the place where Jesus dies, and also to the open tomb of his resurrection. They are the reason we never are without hope!

Let us pray: Lord, use this holy season of Lent to reorient our lives toward you. As we raise our voices in lament, comfort us and give us cause for hope. Guide us with your Spirit, that we may follow where you lead in confidence and trust. Amen.

 The theme hymn for this Lent is I want Jesus to Walk with Me. You can adapt the words to suit your situation! I am including a few different versions so you can use a different one each week.

I Want Jesus to Walk With Me | Lyric Video (youtube.com)

ELW 325 "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me" Virtual Hymn Lutheran Hymn - Samm Hills Worship (youtube.com)

I Want Jesus to Walk with Me (youtube.com)

I Want Jesus to Walk with Me | ELW 325 (youtube.com)

ELW Hymn 325, “I Want Jesus to Walk With Me” (youtube.com)

I Want Jesus to Walk With Me - ELW 325 (youtube.com)

 

Preparing to Observe Lent 2024

If you have a Lenten devotional area that you use, please get it ready. This year, in addition to what you usually do, why not add a small dish or basket? As you think of your laments, write them on slips of paper and put them in the container as you pray. Or use little stones or other small objects and do the same (without the writing!)

(These Lenten devotionals are adapted from Sundays and Seasons, ©2023 Augsburg Fortress, pages 97-100.)