Reviving Lament in the Church

Reviving Lament in the Church

At the February Stated Meeting of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, we
received a new minister member.

The practice in our presbytery is for the minister to introduce themselves, say a little bit about their call, and then to be asked a question.

This minister lucked out with a real softball question – “What is your favorite verse or passage in the Bible and why?”

Unless the person wants to make a scene in public or prove a point, it is hard to go wrong with the response.

She responded, “Jesus wept,” perhaps a bit of a surprise.

Her explanation was that in these difficult days (socially, politically, denominational, ecumenical, and every other aspect of life), it is comforting to know that we worship a God who weeps with us.


It was a simple but profound answer.

The upcoming Presbyterian Women’s Horizons Bible Study is on the theme of Lament, titled, “Into the Light: Finding Hope through Prayers of Lament.”

The promotional material says that author “Lynn Miller revives lament as a proper theological response to the difficult situations of our world.

One of the foundational points of the study is that, in scripture, lament usually leads to hope.

. . . . Recovering lament may be one of the church’s most timely gifts to the world”.


In our lives individually and in our churches, it seems there is plenty to lament about – our health and unknown Corona risks; perhaps our children’s wayward paths; loss of parents in mind, body or spirit; declining attendance in church; never enough volunteers, enough money, enough staff.

We lament racial injustice, volatile economics, problems without workable solutions, gun violence, political division, poverty, lack of affordable medical care, the list is seemingly

Of course, feeling shared sorrow isn’t a new concept. The Psalms are full of lament, and the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

We have the great honor of weeping with each other, and it is an equal, profound honor to rejoice with those who rejoice.


We rejoice when remission is declared; we rejoice in helping neighbors; we rejoice in adjusted worship methods which are well-received; we rejoice in people stepping up; we rejoice in those a-ha moments where God’s love is shared and


When I was a little girl, I was crying about some important problem in my young life and was being comforted by my mother.

At some point, I realized that she was crying too, which took me by surprise. When I asked her why, she said, “if you are hurt, I am hurt; if you are sad, I am sad.”

Shared tears and shared hi-fives are really what the community of love and faith is all about, isn’t it?

How blessed we are to be in community across the nation and the world as followers of Jesus
Christ, and it is an even greater blessing that the whole world is wrapped in the strong and steady arms of a Savior who weeps and rejoices with us.


Join the Presbyterian Women’s Horizons Bible Study “Into the Light: Finding Hope through Prayers of Lament by clicking here

Mary Martin is a member of Saint Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Dunwoody and has a long involvement in Presbyterian Women at the congregation, presbytery, synod and churchwide levels. She served as the chair of the Presbyterian Women Churchwide Gathering held in Louisville, Kentucky in August 2018. Her other church involvement includes teaching Sunday School and playing handbells at her church, and she has served as the Moderator of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta. Professionally, her career was in the telecommunications field, at AT&T and Nokia, from which she retired in late 2017.

She and her husband Billy have been married for 40 years and have two children. Betsy is a minister serving the Stockbridge, Georgia Presbyterian Church. Their son John lives in Birmingham, Alabama and works for the United Way of Central Alabama. Mary relishes time with their four grandchildren.

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