Last night was such a robust and rich experience at The Practice – I almost don’t know where to begin!
First of all, it was our genuine privilege and pleasure to have the Judson University Choir join us to lead us in worship. It’s hard to put into words how beautiful and moving it is to have these gifted college students with us – each time they’ve been with us, they circle the room with sound, presence and praise in a way that facilitates and ushers you into an awareness of Christ’s spirit.
The choir is led by spiritual giant Warren Anderson, who boldly and vulnerably led us into our theme of lament by sharing from his own story, how the loss of his father in the past few months has been teaching and leading him into beauty in the bigger picture through lament. You can read Warren’s touching reflection for yourself online here.
One of my favorite moments of the night was the confession and the assurance. After confessing our sins before God and sitting in the silence before Him, the Judson University Choir sang the beautiful assurance, “All You See” over us. The experience of these words and these heavenly voices declaring such an assurance over us is enough to bring you to your knees, and I am full of gratitude each time I am reminded of God’s grace in this way.
Another meaningful experience we’ve been exploring through Lent, has been the sharing of stories from people in our community who are engaging Lenten Experiments (as introduced by Mark Scandrette before Lent.) This week we had our dear friends Sarah McClarey and Mark Mixter share with the room what God has been leading them to engage and abstain from throughout Lent, and it was a beautiful and vulnerable insight and encouragement to remember we are not alone in the highs and lows of disciplining and experimenting before God. After praying over Mark and Sarah in blessing and thanks, Aaron introduced our speaker for the evening, Curtis Miller, to lead us in a message of, “What is Biblical Lament?”
You can listen to Curtis’ message here below or on the Practice Podcast.
I urge and encourage you to listen to and soak up the experience of Curtis’ words. Not only did he introduce and flesh out the biblical framework of lament, pointing out that the Bible engages lament for both personal and communal reasons, he shared deeply from his own experience of needing this practice in order to respond to the problem of pain in his own life.
In response to this rich teaching, Kellye Fabian got up to lead us in a practice of lament with pictures. This has fast become one of my favorite practices that we have done at The Practice. Kellye led us through three pictures of personal lament, and then three pictures of communal lament for Syria. In between each picture we engaged in a moment of silent lament using a body posture (bowed heads, covered faces, kneeling), before corporately praying a section of the Psalms together in response. You can follow along with this practice by listening to the Practice Podcast and by following along with the pictures below using Kellye’s handout.
It is our hope, that through praying and lamenting over these pictures, that you would begin to identify the categories that you may need to lament in your own life. Whether it be a personal or a corporate lament, as you go about your week, please remain curious and open to what areas of ache may need to be brought before God in lament.
Our night then culminated, as it does every week, at the Table. We shared in the glorious body and blood of Christ, remembering and refreshing ourselves in the sacrifice, resurrection and ascension of our Savior, who hears our cries and who responds with His whole self.
Our night came to a close with an epic benediction led by the Judson Choir, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” by U2 was soulfully sang over us, as a reminder that we as believers still haven’t found in this tension of the now and not yet, all that we’re looking for in Christ, until His return.
It was a meaningful and packed night – one I am proud to be a part of. It is not typical for a community to press so bravely into lament in these ways. Even if this series has been uncomfortable and foreign to you, I commend you to keep leaning in to see how this practice and expression in God’s presence could be healing for you and for the world.
Next Sunday we will be learning how to write our own laments to God as a practice to integrate lament into our every day lives. In that spirit, the Kingdom Practice for this week is:
- Stay curious about the personal and global burdens in your life that you may want to write a lament about before God. Jonathan Martin poetically described these things as, ‘the lump that catches in your throat’ when you go to put it into words. Spend time with God discerning what you would like to lament, and come with it ready and on your heart to write about this next Sunday.
- Keep reading and praying the Psalms of lament! Believe us, they are in the Bible, and making yourself familiar with them will be so enriching this Lenten season.
Thank you for being on this journey with us. May God bless you, keep you, and make His face to shine upon you as you go about this week,
Jenna & The Practice Team