• Jenny Smyth

Lent: a time for lament; a window of hope

Lament: The passionate expression of grief or sorrow.

As we enter the season of Lent, amidst an ongoing pandemic, lockdowns, isolation and anxieties, the Christian tradition of lament somehow feels particularly appropriate. Faced with a turbulent world, there is much for us to sorrow over. However, as we draw near to Good Friday, we know that Easter is coming and so even in the darkest times, light glimmers on the horizon.

Looking for light (Matana Cathedral, Burundi)

In an article on Lent, Dr. Glenn Packiam, writes:

‘Christianity offers us a way to lament that leads to hope’ and, quoting NT Wright, he continues: ‘it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead. As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell.’

Dr Packiam then outlines 5 aspects of lament:

  • Lament is a form of praise.

  • Lament is a proof of the relationship.

  • Lament is a pathway to intimacy with God.

  • Lament is a prayer for God to act.

  • Lament is a participation in the pain of others.

As I was considering our ‘participation in the pain of others’, I thought of the painful pathways that many of our global partners are traversing, but how, in the midst of all the difficulties, they are also beacons of hope in their communities.

Each day we hear news from our partners – inspiring examples of how hope is dawning in darkness through practical acts of kindness in response to pain and need.

During this Lenten period, we will be sharing some of these examples, to bring you hope and inspire your prayers. Each practical response will be linked with one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals agreed by all United Nations Member States in 2015. These goals aim to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

The global Church, inspired by faith, is an active and important part of development and is working in line with best practice in international development. These goals also highlight where we fall short, things we need to bring to God in prayer, in lament, inspiring renewed determination to see God’s Kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven.

As God’s people we know he desires peace and prosperity for humanity, but we also know that this is only made fully possible through His reconciling love, demonstrated at Calvary. We are called to serve our communities in Jesus’ Name, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and to share the eternal hope gifted to us. We know that sorrow is not how God’s story ends. Thanks be to Him.

[Dr. Glenn Packiam; NT Wright online]

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