As I have done in previous Lents I am sharing a daily reflection as part of my Lenten discipline. This year I am using the “Wilderness Wanderings” theme compiled by the “Lent Photo a Day” group. The word appointed for today is “Sorrow.”
Sorrow is a deep thing. It is a feeling and even a state of being that can come upon hearing bad news or facing that which one does not want to face. It is something that I have seen in the faces of people who receive bad news of a diagnosis. It is something that I have experienced to some degree in the loss of a loved one. I imagine it is something that can be felt like its close friend, despair, upon losing a job or ability to work. Perhaps it occurs when we are confronted and overwhelmed.
I seem to feel sorrow this year as I see a society that is as polarized as ever. I feel sorrow in facing the beautiful but broken world in which I am a part of, where, for example, there are people who either don’t want to or really can’t see the importance of #BlackLivesMatter. I feel sorrow in reading the news of more injustice, of over aggression, and systemic racism that still exists in this day and age.
I feel sorrow when I hear and witness leaders avoiding controversy and “issues” because they are “too political.” I especially feel sorrow when I see the church abdicate its role in society to speak out to injustice and shed light into darkness. I recall the wise words of one of my favorite religion professors, Dr. Patricia O’Connell Killen who often said, “There is a separation of church and state. There is, however, no separation of faith and politics.” This is the reality of the world, whether we choose to try and ignore it or not.
As a Christian, I feel sorrow when I see and hear other Christians who seem to ignore Jesus’ summation of the commandments to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. This pain and brokenness causes me to sorrow, just as the injustice in the world causes me great sorrow.
As a Lutheran, I feel conflicted. It is part of my vocation to identify with my neighbor in need. According to Martin Luther, “You must feel with sorrow all the dishonor done to Christ in his holy Word, all the misery of Christendom, all the unjust suffering of the innocent…You must fight, work, pray, and- if you cannot do more have heartfelt sympathy…‘Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ’ [Gal. 6:2].” This is part of our baptismal promises, “to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice in peace in all the earth.” When we abdicate these roles, and forget our baptismal and vocational identities, this brings me sorrow.
However, I have hope because I know I do not hold these viewpoints alone. I have hope because I see the mission of God at work, and the work of God alive in so many of you doing the work of reconciliation, justice, and striving for peace in neighborhoods, congregations, communities, societies, and nations. I have hope, because I know that God calls us to the work and as Isaiah 43 reminds, “Do not fear, for I am with you…”
What does sorrow mean for you? What does (or has) it looked like?
Image Credit: Tamir Rice
Source: Martin Luther, “The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ, and the Brotherhoods,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 35. E. Theodore Bachmann, ed., (Philadelphia, PA: Muhlenberg Press, 1960), 54.