The Good News of Lament

1 How long, O LORD?
will you forget me for ever?
    how long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long shall I have perplexity in my mind,
and grief in my heart, day after day?
    how long shall my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look upon me and answer me, O LORD my God;
    give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;
4 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    and my foes rejoice that I have fallen.
5 But I put my trust in your mercy;
    my heart is joyful because of your saving help.
6 I will sing to the LORD, for he has dealt with me richly;
    I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High.

Lament is an underused practice. To lament, as the psalmist demonstrates, is to cry out to God, acknowledging the trouble that besets us on all side. It is to acknowledge the pain, the heartbreak, the anger, the confusion, and the frustration that we feel – those feelings and reasons that we can explain and those we cannot. It is often a cathartic experience, expressing aloud those things that God already knows are living in our hearts. 

Indeed, it is good and holy to lament. And moreover, there is Good News in the action when we express it and move through it toward hope and love. On this page, you will find resources to help you, your small group, and your congregation move fully into honest lamentations and through toward hope.

Read a blogpost explaining the Good News of Lament from Jerusalem Greer here.


Advent and Christmas

Pray with Us – An Episcopal Migration Ministries Advent Vigil
Episcopal Migration Ministries, in partnership with the EMM Asylum Ministry Network and EMM Immigration Detention Ministry Network, will host a virtual Advent vigil on Sunday, December 13, 7:00 – 8:00 pm EST. The Advent vigil, available via Zoom webinar and Facebook Live, will offer a time of prayer and reflection in a world being transformed by forced migration. Registration is required and is available here. The vigil will be available on-demand following the event. In addition, Episcopal Migration Ministries offers a downloadable vigil order of service for local adaptation and use. It is available here.

Blue Christmas – An online service from Washington National Cathedral
In the midst of a difficult year in which so many are experiencing grief, loss, and hardship, this service of prayer, music, and reflection invites us into hope and healing. Join us Wednesday, December 13, 2022, at 7:00pm. The Rev. Patrick Keyser, Priest Associate, delivers the homily. All are welcome.

On Being – Honest Speech and Transformative Potential: An Interview with Walter Brueggemann
An interview with Walter Brueggemann about the place of protest and prophecy in people’s faith.

Sojourners – The American Church’s Absence of Lament
A reflection by author Soong-Chan Rah on the lack of lament in Christian spaces.

Reformed Worship – Time to Weep: Liturgical Lament in Times of Crisis
An article by John D. Witvliet postulating that how we handle lament on one Sunday may say as much about the gospel as a year’s worth of sermons.

Doctrine of Discovery Lament Offering 1: Acknowledge & Lament the Past and Present
One of six offerings in a lament over the Doctrine of Discovery.

Trauma Informed Priorities for Adult Christian Formation
Tools for helping adults grow even during traumatic times.

Compline as Pastoral Care
In a time when so many are feeling grief, anxiety, or fear, the orderly, regular personableness of the daily office offers reassurance and structure in an easily accessible way

Living through Uncertain Times
A collection of video, words, and audio to help navigate pandemic living.

The Costly Loss of Lament, from The Psalms of Faith
A case for the recovery for the authenticity and justice given to us in the Psalms.

Psalmist’s Cry: Scripts for Embracing Lament, by Walter Brueggemann
In Psalmist s Cry, Walter Brueggemann explores the Psalms as scripts for lament – guides for how to express feelings honestly, in ways normally not permitted or expected within Christian community.

Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff
A profoundly faith-affirming book, Lament for a Son gives eloquent expression to a grief that is at once unique and universal–a grief for an individual, irreplaceable person.

The Cup of Our Life: A Guide to Spiritual Growth, by Joyce Rupp
With daily devotions for six weeks, this book is ideal for individual usage as well as group usage in parish settings, religious communities, and small Christian communities.

The Wounded Heart of God: The Asian Concept of Han and the Christian Doctrine of Sin, by Andrew Sung Park

Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining, by Shelly Rambo
Reexamining the narrative of the death and resurrection of Jesus from the middle day – Holy Saturday – the author seeks a theology that addresses the experience of living in the aftermath of trauma.

Resurrecting Wounds: Living in the Afterlife of Trauma, by Shelly Rambo
Shelly Rambo rereads the Thomas story and the history of its interpretation through the lens of trauma studies to reflect on the ways that the wounds of race, gender, and war persist.

Walter Brueggemann – Need for Lament (Psalms)
Taken from Dr. Walter Brueggemann’s DVD lectures on the Psalms. He speaks here on the need for lament in our liturgy.

Holding on to Hope: A National Service for Healing and Wholeness
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will lead a live-streamed prayer service from Washington National Cathedral, Holding on to Hope: A National Service for Healing and Wholeness, on All Saints Sunday, November 1, at 4:00-5:30 p.m. EST. 

A Cry To God Together: Lament In The Midst Of Covid-19
The Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing invites you to participate in a series of three webinars exploring the public crying out to God regarding the loss of lives and livelihoods during this pandemic.

Contemplative Evening Prayer with Taizé Music, Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Seattle
A service for lament led by Carrie Grace Littauer with music by Kester Limner and Andy Myers.

Lament Together with The Many
A contemporary service of music and prayers.

A Service of Lament, from the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont
A service marking the deaths of more than 100,000 Americans in this time of pandemic.

Holy Saturday: Remembering Lament as Prayer
A reflection by the Rev. Kim Seidman

A Service of Lament, Repentance, and Reconciliation
A liturgy with readings on lament.

A Guide to Planning a Service of Lament
A step-by-step guide for creating your own service of lament.

How To: Hold Service of Lamentation and Healing after Violence
How can a community could collectively mourn its losses and advocate for social change? This article explores lessons learned.

A New Liturgy – No. 7: Lament
A 15-minute guided journey into the historic practice of lament. Through music, prayer, spiritual direction, and the wisdom of scripture, this recording helps us create holy space wherever we find ourselves.

A Brave Space with Dr. Meeks – A Cry To God Together: Lament In The Midst Of Covid-19, Pt. 1
The first of two episodes crying out to God regarding the loss of lives and livelihoods during this pandemic.

A Brave Space with Dr. Meeks – A Cry To God Together: Lament In The Midst Of Covid-19, Pt. 2
The second of two episodes crying out to God regarding the loss of lives and livelihoods during this pandemic.

On Being – Pauline Boss and Krista Tippett
This conversation is full of practical intelligence for shedding assumptions about how we should be feeling and acting during times of pain and lament.

Dr. Hillary McBride, William Matthews, and Michael Gungor talk about grief, how it affects us, and how the increasing toll COVID-19 on the world is creating a large scale sense of grief.

The Practice: The Lament Collection
Three episodes that address why we lament, how we lament, and what lament looks like in scripture.

Resources for Lament and Thanksgiving
Resources for helping children and youth mourn and celebrate milestones done differently from Sharon Pearson.

Processing Grief and Death with Picture Books
From the Build Faith community – picture books that can help children lament.

Three Questions about Funerals
At the heart of the Christian faith is the story of how God did not shy away from the problem of death but conquered it. Here are three ways to talk to children about funerals.

A Season of Loss
Handling loss in the midst of a pandemic as a family.

Compassion in a Pandemic
Teaching our kids that even the smallest acts of benevolence have the ability to profoundly impact the world around us.

Through a Glass Darkly
What does it mean to grandparent during a pandemic?

Leading Kids in a Lament Psalm
An easy, step-by-step guide to help teach how to pray a lament psalm.

Lament and Faith and Childhood: Why my kid and I read the sad Psalms
A post from Micha Boyett about why the Psalms matter for kids.

Write Your Own Covid-19 Lament for Kids
A step-by-step guide to helping kids write their own laments.

The Rev. Canon
Stephanie Spellers

Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care

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Sarah Alphin

Associate for Church Planting and Evangelism

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