Lamentations 3, 40 – 48
Something to read
Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord.
Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands
to God in heaven.
We have transgressed and rebelled,
and you have not forgiven.
You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
killing without pity;
you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can pass through.
You have made us filth and rubbish
among the peoples.
All our enemies
have opened their mouths against us;
panic and pitfall have come upon us,
devastation and destruction.
My eyes flow with rivers of tears
because of the destruction of my people.
Something to think about
Sometimes words fail us. Mouths open but minds don’t engage. This happens when we’re experiencing extreme emotions, pain or bewilderment. It’s at these times we often need someone else’s words to give expression to something too difficult for us to talk about.
Lamentations is a series of acrostic poems and a psalm at the end completing the work. An acrostic poem has the first letter of each sentence either spelling out a message or, as in Lamentations, running through the alphabet.
This form of writing was used to help people memorise the text. The author of Lamentations uses this literary device to help the people make full confession and repentance of the sins that they had committed that they believed had brought about the destruction of Jerusalem.
A similar idea is behind church liturgy. When we are taking part in a church service we may also use another’s words when making confession together. This helps us to be clear about the sin we’ve committed and our need for forgiveness, both individually and corporately.
Something to do
In your worship today, join in with the spirit of Lamentations. Make your confession together with those with whom you share worship, as the church seeks to ‘…examine our ways, and return to the Lord.’
Something to pray
We have sinned against you; we have done evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your love.
Wash away our wrongdoing and cleanse us from our sin.
Renew a right spirit within us and restore us to the joy of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Today’s contributor is David Muir, Christian Aid’s Senior Regional Co-ordinator for its South East region