I have spent the past several days at a Worship Symposium at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is one of the highlights of my year. We spend three days immersed in doing worship and talking about the various aspects of worship, always centered around a particular theme.
This year the theme was the psalms.
The psalms are probably my favorite part of the Bible. I am in the habit of reading the entire psalter through every ten to fourteen days, depending on circumstances. I love this book, studied it in seminary, and have built my devotional life around it in some ways.
In addition, it has been my passion over the past several years to bring the psalms into my teaching, particularly the psalms of lament. What better answer to the problem of evil than the psalms of lament?
In case you don’t know about these little gems, the lament psalms are those in which a suffering person cries out to God for relief. Lines like, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” and “Out of the depths I cry to you; Lord hear my voice” are commonplace in these poems. They are often cries of desolation and despair.
Yesterday morning, the opening worship service focused on lament. The service centered particularly on Psalm 13 with an especially brilliant sermon by Frank Thomas.
Due to a variety of circumstances, the service moved me deeply and I spent a good part of my time crying.
Now comes the interesting part.
Here I am, in the assembly of those united with Christ, surrounded by pastors and worship leaders, and at the end of the service, not one of them asked me if I was ok or if I wanted to talk.
Of course, if you knew me you would know that I would have said “I’m fine” and “no I don’t want to talk.”
But I did find it curious as I thought about it last night, that no one even asked.
Maybe its simply that we don’t want to invade someone’s personal space, this is the Midwest after all. Or maybe we just don’t want to take the time to hear someone’s issues.
And I’m not saying I would do any better. I am introverted and would have felt very awkward sitting next to someone like me yesterday.
But doesn’t it seem odd that in the assembly of God’s people, theoretically the safest place we can be, that we can’t even reach out to someone who is quite obviously in distress? I think, perhaps, that should give us pause.