For those of you not at worship on 16 February, I did something a bit different. I asked people to think about some of the words and phrases we might use to describe God, God’s love or to praise God. I then took them and composed a psalm. It can be found on the St John’s page of the Circuit website: www.herefordshiremethodists.org.uk.
Since the lockdown, I’ve been joining Bromyard’s ‘Zoom’ Fellowship. On Tuesday, Phil asked if I would do the reading and prayers. I’d already had two other Zoom meetings that day so, not having had time to sort anything out, I just turned to the appointed psalm for the day (Psalm 102), which meant that I hadn’t pre-read the text before sharing it at the Fellowship meeting (not good practice, I know). As I began reading, I had one of those ‘Really!’ moments, but had no option other than to press on. It struck me as I read, however, that the psalm was relevant to the situation we find ourselves in and I shared some of these thoughts with the Fellowship.
If you look at any of the lament psalms (and there are quite a few of them), you will notice that, before they ever sound a note of hope, they spend a long time lamenting in pain, anger and tears. This should teach us that even though we certainly do have great hope in Christ, we must not move to hope too quickly. If we jump immediately to hope, we run the risk of making hope seem naïve, or worse, false. The psalms of lament allow us to express negative emotion to God: honest feelings of grief, sadness, doubt, confusion, anger, frustration and questioning.
In many of the lament psalms, though, there is also something that Michael Card calls the “Vav adversative”. “Vav” functions almost as a “but”, but is better understood as an “and though” moment, or a point of turning and praising.
In this time of isolation and social distancing, remember that God is with you. Perhaps write a psalm, either one of praise like the one on our website, or one of lament. If you opt for the latter, don’t forget to include the “Vav”!