Dearest Hope Family,
In this protracted season of unrest and uncertainty, I want you all to know that your elders and leaders are busy praying through and charting a path for an appropriate response the urgency of the present racial tensions, and, even more so, an appropriate path forward for a long-haul response that capitalizes upon but hopefully outlasts the current moment.
As I informed you earlier, one of the ways I have been stewarding this new season is to join with other pastors to listen to and learn from our African-American colleagues – to take the posture of learners before trying to forge ahead with some grand plan of reaction. In several weeks of meeting with this group of trusted friends and fellow ministers of the Gospel, the overwhelming thrust of their instruction for doing justice, loving mercy and walking in humble faithfulness has boiled down to several “action” items: listen more; understand better; lament; weave into the fabric of your life and church the Kingdom values and practices of love, justice, and righteousness; and preach and teach the Gospel which has everything to do with justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
In our PCA and Reformed circles, we often and easily gravitate to the learning piece. Sometimes we wonder, “Is there any issue that can’t be solved, any obstacle that can’t be overcome, by simply reading a good book, digesting a good article, or hearing a good sermon?”
Of course, we want to connect folks with helpful learning resources, and there is a list coming out soon. But more than adding words and intellectualizing our response, we want to create a space and time for our church to lament and to cry out for mercy and implore God to heal us and our land.
We are setting aside Thursday evening, July 16th at 7:30pm, for a service of corporate and individual lament. It will take place outside at the church in the same space we use for Vespers. It will be the same format of “picnic style” – bring your own seating and practice physical distancing. The service and liturgy will be simple, direct, not long, and we will have pastors available to pray with individuals who desire more focused, personal attention and who wish to have intercession for healing.
Your lament may not be tied to the racial unrest but rather may spring from malaise and depression, from deep disappointment over lost opportunities, from stilted and distant relationships, from fear of the unknown, from months of frustration at work and in life or from the cumulative effect of living in a broken world as a broken person.
Whatever the source (and there are many!), come as you are, and let us cry out together against the seeming advance of the wrong and the seeming retreat of righteousness. Come to lament. Come to repent as needed. Come to cry out individually. Come to cry out together.
The wonderful promise of the Bible from Psalm 145:18-19 is that “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth . . . he also hears their cry and saves them.”
Grace and peace,