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lamentations 2, six in a series, ‘without pity’

21 Oct

“The LORD has done what he purposed; he has carried out his word, which he commanded long ago; he has thrown down without pity; he has made the enemy rejoice over you and exalted the might of your foes” (v. 17).- Lamentations 2

This is a word of the prophet Jeremiah on not overflowing lament, but a desert lament, a cry without tears. A sorrow beyond words.

Jerusalem knew of its sin (Lam. 1:11b–22), and represents as a city each person who bathes in their sin. Jeremiah in Lamentation 2 now speaks to a different audience and does do from the perspective of a third-party observing of Judah’s fate. Lamentations 2 looks at the devastation Jerusalem experiences at the hands of Babylon, a devastation through which the Lord threw “down without pity” (v. 17). Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem. This is a destruction without pity. His audience is those who are so broken they cannot cry out to the Lord: they are people beyond sorrow, tears, repentance or remorse. This is a people without pity, from even themselves. Babylon is only an instrument. The people’s lack of laments, of cries for pity, of prayers, is their real destruction. Can they recover?

Judah never recovers from Babylon’s conquest. Even when the people return to the land and rebuild the temple, they could not rebuild the glory of their kingdom and His temple that Nebuchadnezzar destroys. (Ezra 3:8–13). Lamentations 2 recognizes that God had done what He promised (v. 17)

Yet, there is always hope with our Lord’s promise to protect, to save a remnant, from Adam to Noah; from Rehab to Deborah; from David to us, for himself. David calls to the Lord in Psalm 39, speaking, praying, such a a promise,

But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.
8 Save me from all my transgressions;
do not make me the scorn of fools.
9 I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
you consume their wealth like a moth—
surely everyone is but a breath.

12 Hear my prayer, Lord,
listen to my cry for help;
do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
before I depart and am no more.”

David prays and cries: he takes his laments from his heart to his Lord. This is his temple, the heart of God. But the Lord will not answer David’s call to ‘look away. from me.’

He hears. David recovers. How do we know? We read of these desert laments so we know how to cry even when we are without words or tears: we go to Jesus.

He became a lament so we will never be a desert, a destroy temple or city again.

I cry without words to him.

He hears. He answers. He loves.

Joseph gives, lament 5

20 Oct

Joesph’s spoken words never appear in the scriptures. He is not even quoted; paraphrased or summarised. He dreams, listens, and then gives. His lament is unspoken; yet his actions speak and in speaking help cover his unvoiced sorrows:

Joseph’s first dream

from Matthew 1: 18 – 23

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.’

Joesph gives faith

Joseph gives in 4 ways in this text. Verse 19 tells us his first giving, ‘Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law,’ Joesph gives his heart and mind to the law of his people and his God. Faithfulness is his first gift in the passage.

Joesph gives grace

‘…and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.’ Here is the second half of verse 19. The scripture here partners Joseph’s faithfulness to the law with his grace toward his intended wife, Mary. He understands the law fully, complete yet as a picture, a trope, of his God. He gives grace. All will be done quietly. No exposure. No stoning. No voiced laments of judgement or accusation. Joseph gives grace.

Joesph gives deep, deep thought

20 ‘But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,…’ Joesph considered. He gives his deepest thoughts to his plan of quietly putting Mary away. He is not rash in word or action. Quietly, privately, silently, he puts his lament away. His thoughts are his own: only the spirit knows them. And the spirit, through an angel speaks to them,

Joesph gives a name

‘… because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Joesph gives the name of salvation , Jesus, to his child. He will be an earthly father to Jesus; a teacher, mentor to this, his child. He gives identity and a carpenter’s touch, his hands to his son. He loves Jesus, with a father’s love.

Joseph’s lament is overflowing, faithful love. His unspoken lament gives.

lament, 5 ‘how’ on chapter 2, Lamentations

17 Oct

My fifth reflection on the nature of laments focuses on the second chapter of the Book of Lamentations and the history of this book. The five chapters are five hymns.

These 5 hymns all refer to the great national catastrophe that overtook the Jews and – in particular the capital city, Jerusalem, – through the Chaldeans, 587-586 B.C. The sufferings and the anxieties of the city, the destruction of the sanctuary, the cruelty of the enemies of Israel,the disgraces that befell the king and the devastation and ruin of the country-all this is described. Appeals for the Lord’s mercy are made, but not granted. Each one of these hymns emphasizes some special feature of the calamity. Yet, as poems, they tell the stories of the people’s feelings, not the narrative of events. They overflow with emotion, feeling. The second chapter’s poetic subject ,though, describe the Lord and his feelings. They overflow,

4 “Like an enemy he has strung his bow; his right hand is ready. Like a foe he has slain all who were pleasing to the eye; he has poured out his wrath like fire on the tent of Daughter Zion. 5 The Lord is like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds. He has multiplied mourning and lamentation for Daughter Judah.

6 He has laid waste his dwelling like a garden; he has destroyed his place of meeting. The Lord has made Zion forget her appointed festivals and her Sabbaths;in his fierce anger he has spurned both king and priest.”

Jerusalem is as, like, a wasted garden; he is like an enemy, a foe with a bow in hand, strung and ready to piece hearts, as his people has torn his heart. The prophet moves poetically from describing the Lord to speaking with, as, the Lord, and with his words,

13 What can I say for you? With what can I compare you, Daughter Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, Virgin Daughter Zion? Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?

Multiple hurts birth multiple cries, multiple laments. The lord’s laments here are questions, questions without answers. They are ‘how’ queries: how can I heal?; what can I liken you, how comfort you?; how can I compare you to any, my Jerusalem?

God’s lament is a how to which silence overflows.

In the Hebrew the word for lamentations begins with this word, how. “How’s” are complex questions, with even deeper responses. They will eventually lead to ‘why’s.’ But in this chapter we sit in overflowing hows: how can I alone you, describe you, your cries and hurts? Mine?

Laments here are indescribable and sadly unforgettable. As a deep as the sea, their healing is perhaps found in their poetic utterance. In poetry, perhaps, healing comes.

Perhaps through The Word. Through the cleansing of the word, as for cleansing and healing. ( Ephesians 5: 25 -26 ) yes, his


lament, 4 “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. Lamentations 1:16

15 Oct

Why is Jerusalem lamenting? Because memories are ever present, ghosts if you will, with substance. Memories that never depart. Today 14 October I begin a look into the Book Of Lamentations. Five chapters of overflowing tears, cries, emotions I will share six thoughts, and my own words on, with the prophet Jeremiah. He speaks in this first chapter as the community, the city of Jerusalem. A prophet speaks the the Lord’s heart, his mind and emotions to a loved people in a specific time, place. He speaks loving words in the right way for their heart’s moment. Here the prophet speaks as Jerusalem. And she hears, speaks. She remembers,

14 “My sins have been bound into a yoke;
by his hands they were woven together.
They have been hung on my neck,
and the Lord has sapped my strength.
He has given me into the hands
of those I cannot withstand.
15 “The Lord has rejected
all the warriors in my midst;
he has summoned an army against me‘

This army is a lament of pure emotional memories and feelings that will never leave. Jerusalem is in overflow, 

This is why I weep
and my eyes overflow with tears. 16a

Overflow is  the essential core of lamentations. For Jerusalem taken in captivity, or bathed in love and beauty, all is overflow. Memories that will never leave, but flow over in again and again. 

Her memories never leave. she has the disease of dementia, but only in reverse. They, she is in overflow. Nothing to lost, all present, remembered. Remembered.

laments, poems

14 Oct

the risk of birth, is a selected book of Christ-poems given to me, the first is the title poem, ‘The Risk of Birth’ 
by Madeleine L’EngleThis is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honor & truth were trampled to scorn—
Yet here did the Savior make His home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn—
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth….

A baby’s birth cry is a lament for what they leave, lost. Paul Valery said that prose to poetry is as walking to dancing. Laments in poems, in songs, are dances with words. They are cries of emotions. Laments.

Jesus’ life lament

13 Oct

Faith is not the absence of questions, but the abundance of them

After finishing the series on Mark’s gospel, ‘questioning Jesus’ I paused. Reflecting on the series I returned to Mark 10, the passage with the rich ruler, who runs towards Jesus and moves to his knees with, perhaps, the essential question embedded within the gospels,

17 And as he is going forth into the way, one having run and having kneeled to him, was questioning him, `Good teacher, what may I do, that life age-during I may inherit?’ Young’s Literal Translation

Mark 21: 10,
21 ‘And Jesus having looked upon him, did love him, and said to him,…’ YLT
“having looked”
implies to my reading: that Jesus also knelt beside, before this ruler; that looks into his rich man’s eyes; that Jesus rises to his feet, perhaps bringing the man up with him, never losing eye contact, and loves him.
Jesus’ eyes never leaves this supplicant.Jesus loves so, he does not ever lose eye contact him. Or with me; or us.

This rich man, sadly, is downcast, ‘sorrowful.’ He is in full lament. He can not speak as He breaks eye contact with Jesus Staring at the dust, downcast he leaves,

‘And Jesus having looked upon him, did love him, and said to him, `One thing thou dost lack; go away, whatever thou hast — sell, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, be following me, having taken up the cross.’

22 And he — gloomy at the word — went away sorrowing, for he was having many possessions.

23 And Jesus having looked round, saith to his disciples, `How hardly shall they who have riches enter into the reign of God!’‘’ Jesus in looking around and laments with his eyes and words to the astonishment of his disciples and all around him,

And the disciples were astonished at his words, and Jesus again answering saith to them, `Children, how hard is it to those trusting on the riches to enter into the reign of God!

25 It is easier for a camel through the eye of the needle to enter, than for a rich man to enter into the reign of God.’ 26 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying unto themselves, `And who is able to be saved?’ 27 And Jesus, having looked upon them, saith, `With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’

Jesus’ lament astonishes the disciples ‘beyond measure.’ Jesus heart lament overflows here because it is not for just this rich ruler. It is for all he sees. His disciples and the crowd; the rich in monies and power. It is also for me. For us. He can’t stop seeing us: and still looking around at them, eyeing them, seeing them, Jesus states, that salvation for ‘men … is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’

This is how Jesus answers his own cry for a ruler, for disciples, for us: God. He brings his cries and his audience, those who seek him, to God. How?

God is referred to twice in Jesus’ sentence response. Call to God, see and hear him.

This is the answer to all laments: everything is possible when we prayerfully bring our cries, our lament, before God. Everything.

a daughter, in the news

10 Oct

overflow, lament’s nature

8 Oct

The Psalms sing and speak; grief and rejoice. They all, though, enter the Lord’s presence, his metaphorical temple, his heart, his spirit to be close. In true ‘overflow’ even sorrow, my hurts and cries and whispers are heard, felt, stored and handed over to another, to my Lord, my Father, my love, as in Psalm 73.

When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
may all the peoples praise you. Psalm 73:21-26

In my overflow all is saved; nothing is lost, wasted. Not a moment or a year.

laments, psalms

7 Oct

“When things were going great I crowed, “I’ve got it made. I’m God’s favorite. He made me king of the mountain.” Then you looked the other way and I fell to pieces.

8- 10 I called out to you, God; I laid my case before you: “Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead? auction me off at a cemetery yard sale? When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs and stories of you won’t sell. So listen! and be kind! Help me out of this!”

11-12 You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance;

You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.”’

This is the Message paraphrase of the core of Psalm 30, a David song, prayer. The Psalms are, as Peterson translates, ‘wild laments.‘

What are such prayers, songs? Their opposite is phrase here as a ‘whirling dance.’

Davis whirled as he dance into Jerusalem. His happiness overflowed as he preceded his people, God’s spirit presence filled him so, he danced as though no one was watching.

His joy overflow; from the spirit to his heart; from his heart to his limbs, his tongue, he danced and sung.

Laments reverse this joyful process. They cone from what we see outside: death and illness; trials and betrayals. Words fail. Isolated, our homes, our beds, our hearts are flowed, overflowed into by the sorrows of our sights. Our voice is, grows, to groans.

Laments are heart sorrows without words. Unspoken, they dance into our hearts, without ceasing to cry.

“….the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groaninwardly as we wait ... Romans 8: 22 -23

Laments are what we dance, sing, live to without Jesus. Lament is our live without Jesus.

elisabeth’s 1 October ( part 2

2 Oct

Mom was at zero cent meters dilated. zero. She screamed when Dr Xavier broke her water. Loud. But that was just the beginning.
From Zero to a hundred, and for 24 hours we travelled a hundred. Potissum drove. Mommy threw her wedding ring at me during the long dry night. ( I gave it back to her later, after your birth. )
The sun was just rising as you were coming. I saw it’s soft rays through the clear oval church like Wren glass as they wheeled you down the wide hospital corridor. The passage was long, marble and bathed in morning lights. A beginning.
October 2. And then we were in the delivery room. Elisabeth, you popped out fast. Mommy was crying and laughing; tears and smiles.
Today, at MSK, you work a short block from this, your birth. I was supposed to name our child if it was a girl ( we had a hard time with names: your mom is quite obstinate. She was naming the boy, but the birthing was so long and difficult, I gave her my naming ‘coupon’.
I never left her, except for brief bathroom minutes. I was quite aware and awake. Today, it seems a minute.
But here you are. We love you so, then, now and forever.
Mommy named you after her still borne sister, an absence filled. You are life itself.
Elisabeth is life.