Tuesday 12 May 2020
Listen to the Prayer here.
Some verses from Lamentations 1
How lonely sits the city
that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become,
she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces
has become a vassal.
She weeps bitterly in the night,
with tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers
she has no one to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her,
they have become her enemies.
Judah has gone into exile with suffering
and hard servitude;
she lives now among the nations,
and finds no resting-place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her
in the midst of her distress.
The roads to Zion mourn,
for no one comes to the festivals;
all her gates are desolate,
her priests groan;
her young girls grieve,
and her lot is bitter.
in the days of her affliction and wandering,
all the precious things
that were hers in days of old.
All her people groan
as they search for bread;
they trade their treasures for food
to revive their strength.
Look, O Lord, and see
how worthless I have become.
We don’t often read from Lamentations – and for good reason! It is a book written at a time when the people of Israel are in exile and have lost so much that they take for granted. It feels almost reassuringly familiar to hear the description of the empty city, the cancelled festivals and the sense of Jerusalem remembering the things of the past that were precious to her. These are very human feelings and describe how many of us feel during this time of lockdown, fear and grief.
We can look back and find hope because we know Jerusalem was restored – even though things were never the same again and we remember that the Gospel tells us that Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Any human restoration is partial – it is God’s restoration that offers completion; that is a vision of a just and caring world, where the vulnerable and lost are invited to the seats of honour and all are invited to the feast of life.
So we turn to Psalm 89 for words of a different mood – words of praise, honouring the God whose love is steadfast and whose faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
Lord, for ever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established for ever;
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to my servant David:
“I will establish your descendants for ever,
and build your throne for all generations.” ’
Faithful and steadfast God,
your love is eternal.
Help us in these times of challenge, grief and fear,
to remember you, to praise you and to abide in you.
Send your Holy Spirit to prompt us to act for justice,
to care for those in need,
to love all your creation.
May our lives be a witness to your love.
In Jesus’ name.
- By Revd Michaela Youngson