Friday, March 15, 2013

Burden Bearing

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.   Galatians 6:2

How are you with lament?  How are you when it comes to being in community with people who are in a season of lament? On any given Sunday, we worship next to people who are struggling. While seemingly going through the motions of the service, inside they are confused or hurting or even angry with God. The music may be upbeat. The message could be well meant, but these don’t address the pain and depth of loss they feel. Only life-on-life can do that.

It is one thing to lament in the privacy of our own home or family, but it takes a different kind of courage and faith to lament with and for another, to bear their burdens. We are uneasy with pain and sorrow. To enter into someone’s suffering, and to lament with them, is to seek God with them. Many times I can be hesitant, yes even avoidant, of people in lament because I feel I have no answers. Truth is, people in lament don’t need my answers as much as they need my presence and prayers.

Eugene Peterson says it well: “Why are so many Christians embarrassed by tears, uneasy in the presence of sorrow, unpracticed in the language of lament? It certainly is not our biblical heritage, for virtually all our ancestors in the faith were thoroughly ‘acquainted with grief.’ And our Savior was, as everyone knows, ‘a Man of Sorrow.’ ”  His answer: “For at least one reason why people are uncomfortable with tears and the sight of suffering is that it is a blasphemous assault on their precariously maintained American spirituality of the pursuit of happiness. It is a lot easier to keep the American faith if they don’t have to look into the face of suffering, if they don’t have to listen to our laments, if they don’t have to deal with our tears.”

I’m convicted; how about you? In the same way that our failure to lament cuts us off from the heart of God, it also cuts us off from each other, thus eroding community. If we are to love one another as Jesus commanded, we must learn to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

King Solomon says it this way, in a passage I quote at every memorial I am a part of: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2-3).

Feasting, laughter and pleasure are not wrong, but trying to insulate our lives with these things is not really life. It’s a bubble. Jesus calls us to enter the pain of the world around us because “the fall” is our reality -— “death is the destiny of every man.”
Take this verse to heart and we will be wise and useful to our Master. Pretend that Christianity is safety from sorrow and we will be foolish and shallow in our walks.

A key value of Christian community is empathy, which means we must not assume that everyone around us is fine. In our interactions with each other, we must pray with, over and for the hurting. This is essential to us being PCC.  Looking forward to being together this weekend and looking at Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God.  Read up in Luke 17:20-37 and I will see you on Sunday!

I love being your pastor!