Daily Worship -

Living on the margins

October 06, 2019 1
Image credit: Pixabay

Lamentations 1: 1-6 (NRSVA)

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.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 Her foes have become the masters,
    her enemies prosper,
because the Lord has made her suffer
    for the multitude of her transgressions;
her children have gone away,
    captives before the foe.

6 From daughter Zion has departed
    all her majesty.
Her princes have become like stags
    that find no pasture;
they fled without strength
    before the pursuer.

Only change is inevitable. The writer of Lamentations paints a depressing picture of a city unable to adapt to changing circumstances. Once at the heart of things, now she sits on the periphery. Once important, now she is ignored. She rejoiced in her past glories but can find no meaning or comfort in her present desolation. “The King is dead, long live the King!” How fleeting is the significance of status. 

This could be a metaphor for the church, once at the heart of society, and now struggling to find a role and a voice. It is also a metaphor for some of our members who may once have been heavily involved but for many reasons are no longer. This change in status evokes a grieving process. If we are still at the heart of things, let’s remember, respect, and embrace those who once were but are not now. If we used to be at the heart of things, and are struggling with that loss, let’s remember that for everything there is a season and as far as God is concerned there is still a role for us. We just need to find it.

Father, help us to be gentle with those on the margins,
uncomfortable with the rate of change.
Help us to remember that they, too, were movers and shapers, once.
Help us to honour the contributions of the past
even as we imagine the future.
Help us to make space for all those who are part of your body.

Father, help us to be gentle with the ideas and visions of today’s movers and shapers,
even when we don’t understand or are uncomfortable.
Help us to support the struggle to take the church forward into an unknown future.
Help us to accept that while we can no longer fulfil the role we once did
God plans for us a new role.
Help us to make space for all those who are part of your body.

Father help us all, at the heart or on the margins, to work together for the good of your kingdom. Amen.