Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sermon - "Accepting Punishment" (Lamentations)

On Sunday, Rev. Joshua Patty preached about Lamentations, the reflection about the pain of exile that is included among the Hebrew prophets.  Though the placement is odd -- in some ways, Lamentations feels similar to the wisdom literature -- it probably is due to its focus on the exile in Babylon (a central issue for several of the prophets).

With evocative language, Lamentations explores the deep emotional pain that those in exile felt.  However, it also exhibits a deep promise that God has a purpose for the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity in Babylon.  There is a painful admission that the consequences -- which feel like punishments from God -- were necessary for the long-term good of God's people.  Perhaps defeat and exile was the only way that God could correct the mistakes they were making.

Lament is something that we frequently do, worrying about the negative consequences of decisions we have made in our lives -- about things we've done or not done.  Sometimes the lessons we learn are hard ones, especially when our actions seem to lead to uncomfortable situations.  Sometimes, though, hard situations are simply the result of changes beyond our control.  When we identify negative consequences caused (at least in part) by our decisions, it is important to learn from them -- with God's help -- so we don't make the same mistakes again.

Click here to listen to the sermon.

You can also listen to the related Communion meditation and closing benediction.