Friday, September 30, 2022

Pentecost 17C World Communion Sunday

Lamentations 1:1-6; 3:22-24

1 How lonely sits the city
that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become,
she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces
has become subject to forced labor.

2 She weeps bitterly in the night,
with tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers,
she has no one to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
they have become her enemies.

3 Judah has gone into exile with suffering
and hard servitude;
she lives now among the nations;
she finds no resting place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her
in the midst of her distress.

4 The roads to Zion mourn,
for no one comes to the festivals;
all her gates are desolate;
her priests groan;
her young girls grieve,
and her lot is bitter.

5 Her foes have become the masters;
her enemies prosper
because the Lord has made her suffer
for the multitude of her transgressions;
her children have gone away,
captives before the foe.

6 From daughter Zion has departed
all her majesty.
Her princes have become like stags
that find no pasture;
they fled without strength
before the pursuer.

Lamentations 3:22-24

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."


Traditionally attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, who probably didn't write it, the book of Lamentations reflects the mood of the psalms of lament. Unlike the book of Jeremiah with its cautions, warnings, and hope, this poetry offers few solutions or explanations. The overall mood of Lamentations is similar to the psalms in their trust and intimacy with God in every aspect of life from hopelessness to celebration.

Other than from Holy Week liturgies at Resurrection ELCA in Boston and Northminster PCUSA in San Diego, I'm not familiar with Lamentations and don't recall if we even did a quick overview of the book in seminary even in the Old Testament survey.

However, long ago I bought and long since then discarded (because the recording quality was truly could not have been worse abysmal, though the performance was excellent) a vinyl LP of French baroque composer François Couperin's Leçons de ténèbres that musically interpret Lamentations 1:1-5, 6-9, 10-14 for tenebrae services in Holy Week. I may have mentioned I gave up linking to YouTube videos because they don't necessarily stay there forever. Have you noticed the YT message, "this video has been deleted" doesn't say what video it was? In any case, I strongly recommend you find and listen to Couperin's exquisite music, and YT has quite a few options.

World Communion Sunday

Every year on the first Sunday in October, many churches worldwide observe World Communion Sunday. Although Christians are a religious minority, rippling around the globe from one time zone to another, Jesus people from countless cultures and many styles of Christianity evoke the real presence of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ as they proclaim hope and trust in a future for the cosmos.

Grief Lament Hope

The poet who wrote these songs of sorrow wept over the devastation of Jerusalem. It probably didn't look very different from what we've been seeing from Ukraine. What do you lament today? Please remember, God cares about everything, from the cosmic macro to the individual micro.

What losses do you grieve? Do you fear your hopes for the future never will happen? If you're in the USA or UK, sorrow over political divisions? Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine? Effects of planetary neglect and plunder that hurricanes Fiona and Ian just now made glaringly apparent? Divisions in your family or marriage? Workplace discord? Random violence? Mass shootings?

What can local assemblies and the church catholic lament on World Communion Sunday? Even if you're quite recent to the church during the past decade, unless you joined within the past two years, the post-Covid church already is very different from the one that was there when suddenly The Church Left the Building in a way very different from the way it "always had done" after the sending charge on Sundays. The church's real work is in the world, but for a while we had no option to return to the building to be fed with Word and Sacrament even though Sundays continued their relentless return.

Whether via Zoom or video, hybrid worship isn't leaving. Because actions and words of the person presiding consecrate everything on the table, concerns about how far a communion table reaches during a Eucharistic liturgy have almost been resolved. More major is whether or not the (statistically very, very many!) long-time members and regular attenders who literally drifted away during covid will return because we had so many programs and activities that require more people than we have now and how do we reach more people and even how can we relate to those who've stayed along with anyone new?

What can local assemblies and the church catholic hope for on World Communion Sunday?

That's all for today. Join this blog next week at the same place, similar time. May your laments generate hope and bear fruit for world and church!

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