November 16, 2016

Lamentations - 
A concentrated and intense biblical witness to suffering...to be human is to suffer.  No one gets an exemption...

There are two polar events in the history of the Hebrew people: the Exodus from Egypt and the Exile into Babylon...These two events are bookends holding together the wide-ranging experiences of God’s people that fall between the exuberance that accompanies salvation and the suffering associated with judgment.  

Lamentations - written out of the exile experience - provides the community of faith with a form and vocabulary for dealing with loss and pain...Neither explaining suffering nor offering a program for the elimination of suffering, Lamentations keeps company with the extensive biblical witness that gives dignity to suffering by insisting that God enters our suffering and is a companion to our suffering.

Lamentations 1-2 - 
Oh, Oh, Oh....After years of pain and hard labor, Judah has gone into exile...haunted by all, she is stuck between a rock and a hard place....God laid her low, punishing her repeated rebellions....Jerusalem, who out sinned the whole world, is an outcast.  All who admired her despise her now that they see beneath the surface... She played fast and loose with life, she never considered tomorrow.  

The enemy reached out to take all her favorite things...God left me with nothing---left me sick and sick of living....for all this, I weep, weep buckets of tears and not a soul within miles around cares for my soul...Zion reached out for help, but no one helped.  God has right on his side.  I’m the one who did wrong.  

Listen everybody!  Look at what I’m going through!  I called to my friends; they betrayed me.  My priests and my leaders only looked out for themselves, trying but failing to save their own skins...

Oh, listen to my groans.  No one listens, no one cares...My eyes are blind with tears, my stomach in a knot.  My
insides have turned to jelly over my people’s fate...As each night watch begins, get up and cry out in prayer.  Pour your heart out face to face with the Master....”Look at us God.  Think it over. Have you ever treated anyone like this?             

I Peter 2 - 
So clean house!  Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk...

Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life.  The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in a place of honor.  Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God.  The scriptures provide precedent: “Look!  I’m setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor.  Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it.   

You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, 
God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you--from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted....

Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.  Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices.

...Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order.  

It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you are a danger to society....Exercise your freedom by serving God...treat everyone you meet with dignity.  Love your spiritual family.  Revere God, respect the government.  This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life that Christ lived.  He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.  You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going.  Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.