Lament

Photo by Mike Ralph on Unsplash

Today is January 6th, which means it’s the Day of Epiphany, the day when Jesus is revealed to be King of the Nations. The light of the world, Jesus is the embodiment of God’s love for us which leaves no stone unturned.

Unfortunately, today is also a day when we remember the violence and unrest that occurred only one year ago in Washington DC when protestors overtook the capitol in a show of force over the results of the November election. On that day, St. Peter’s members gathered on zoom (remember when that was our primary way of gathering?) to pray, sing songs, and join our spirits together at a time when we were all feeling rather glum.

As I had prepared music to sing at that meeting, I got to flip through the Lament section of our hymnal. This is a part of the hymnal we don’t touch much. I think we’ve sung one song out of it on Sunday morning during my time at St. Peter’s. These sections of our hymnals can often be difficult to go through and yet, they hold some of the most powerfully poignant music the church has to offer.

Lament and sadness are not always the happiest of emotions and yet, we all must reckon with them at some point in our lives. We tend to like to focus on the happy and good times in our lives, but I wonder if sometimes we diminish their importance when we shove down the bad. It can be easy to feel like God is far away in the bad times and close in the good times. Popular culture and many public figures would have us believe that bad times are a punishment from God for bad choices and good times are a reward for good choices. God doesn’t work that way; there is no merit system with God.

There is no merit system with God.

What would happen if we were to sing about those times when we felt alone or when we felt sad? Where would God be in all of that? I propose that we should all the more sing about our discomfort than our comfort. Singing together has a power like no other. Raising our voices in song together is to raise our voices in solidarity with those who are marginalized. Raising our voices when we are feeling down reminds us that no matter what, God is with us.

God’s omnipresence, therefore, isn’t only about being in all places and times. No, God is present in every thought, every feeling, no matter if they be positive or negative. What a comfort! To know that even in times of distress and sadness, God is there. In times when we feel afraid or alone, God is there. In times when all we want to do is weep, God is there.

Singing our laments on that day in 2021, when the unthinkable happened, those who were on that video call were no longer alone with fear. Although we were still fearful, we were reminded of God’s ever-present love. Love that was embodied in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose revelation we celebrate this Epiphany Day. Love that continues to be implanted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit through our baptisms and our engagement with the word and sacrament. Let us face this new year with love in our hearts. Let us also face this new year with a willingness to share our laments with honesty and the certainty that God goes with us.

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Dr. Adam Lefever Hughes

Director of Music

Adam served as Director of Music at St. Peter’s from 2015 to 2022.

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