As we worshipped in song Sunday, I wept. Thursday and Friday nights previous, I’d watched the documentary 13th about issues of race and incarceration. It is profoundly moving, exposing the shame of our nation-exposing my own apathy and perhaps willful ignorance-exposing, I suppose, my own sense of impotence. What can we do when the systems are so large, so broken, so oppressive?
And at the same time, hearing interviews with Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General, admitting that he had read the summaries but not the substance of the reports from the past administration detailing abuses by city police forces and the consequent federal involvement. Based merely upon the summaries, he plans to change policy to remove as much federal oversight.
The juxtaposition was overwhelming. Black and minority bodies, lives, potentially abused, destroyed in continuity with a system that has already been oppressive, a seeming reversal of an attempt to at least mitigate wrong.
My Lenten vow-three years going now-is to give up sarcasm (for me, almost always an expression of cynicism) and instead write notes of gratitude. I found last Sunday that though I’d not spoken sarcastically, I’d certainly entertained thoughts (“Dear Jeff Sessions, Responding to a summary without reading the substance is something I’d not accept from my 6th graders…”) and ruminated with bitterness.
I hadn’t known my own heart. My sarcasm-my cynicism-is often my way of avoiding pain and fear. What God met me with in worship was a pierced heart, one which flowed with tears of pain and fear. And so one which did not keep those things within myself but allowed them to flow out in worship-in praise-in anguish-and finally in hope.
I did not find that morning an answer to my broken heart, no final balm for my wound. But I found, instead, the wounded, bleeding Christ bearing our griefs and our sorrows, the same Christ the one who promises to wipe away every tear from every eye and to make all things new.
I found that even if those words were not sufficient that day to stop the tears, the hope they promised was that one day the tears would be stopped. I don’t need now for them to cease-it is enough to know they will.
And in that, I find the promise of Lent.