In a recent emotional interview between Anderson Cooper and Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper questioned Mr Colbert's comments that went like this love the things that you most wish had not happened. What punishments of God are not gifts.
And as Anderson Cooper began this conversation, it was obviously a sensitive one for him. He fell silent, and you could hear the emotion in his shaky voice. But if we allow the question, what punishments of God are not gifts to stand alone? That's a tricky one, because I can't believe in a God that punishes.
But in essence, Stephen Colbert is having a difficult conversation with Anderson Cooper about grief and suffering. Their interview broke wide open a conversation that we hardly ever want tohave. But what if we do? What if we have a serious relationship with grief? What if we have an understanding about grief and suffering before they happen to us in our lives? What if grief and suffering can tell us and the world around us something important about the kingdom of God and our place within it? Today I want to talk about grief.
I'm not here to ruin your Labor Day weekend, but I want to talk about suffering because that's what I believe about. The faithful Christian community were called Toe have hard conversations that no one else wants to have.
But the good news of the Kingdom of God is that God is in the moments when we feel at our lowest. The good news of Jesus is in those times we spend in secret morning and lamenting the loss of someone of something, the times when everything we have ever known to be riel or true in the world feels like it has been smashed to pieces.
Our prophetic friend Jeremiah takes us on that journey Jeremiah is witnessing to his community, to the Israel light people in a time of great grief. The Hebrew people are mourning there in a period of great loss of their identity to the Babylonian zones.
They're faithful. Identity was placed in the physical structure of the temple, and it is now gone. Their community and their life as they knew it, has been smashed to pieces and in the midst of their physical pain, they also lose all sense of of who they are.
And I imagine we've all had those relatable moments. I don't know who I am without them. I don't know how to exist in this world without their presence beside me. I don't know how to go on in this world after such trauma.
How can the world just keep going on? Just as grief, trauma, suffering and loss were a part of the Israel Lights story, a part of the story of our ancestors, it is bound. It is bound to be a part of our story, Stephen Colbert said.
It is a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering. The trouble with our ancestors that Israel light people is that they didn't quite fully recognize what was lost. They knew the insurmountable loss that they had lived through in the destruction created by Theus, Syrians and then the Babylonian zones.
They knew physical pain and they knew trauma. They were living under a foreign rule that was unfamiliar to them. But the Prophet Jeremiah is trying to remind them of an even greater loss. The Israel light people lost their story.
They didn't just lose who they were. As individuals, they lost their story as a collective. They lost their story as God's people, and that may have been the most troubling loss to our prophetic friend Jeremiah.
The people of Israel began to buy the story of the royal consciousness of the time that placed their securities in the structures and policies of the Empire. They began to buy the story of the Babylonian zones, and Jeremiah wasn't going to have it.
They began to buy the story of the Babylonian and put their trust in the false gods of Baal. Verse 11 reads this, but my people have changed their glory for something that does not profit. The people of Israel forgot their story of God.
They forgot the story of God that brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness in a land of desserts and pits in a land of deep darkness in a land that no one passes through and and brought us into a plentiful land.
Thio eat its fruits, and it's good, good things. Jeremiah is grieving the grief of his people. He's grieving the loss of the story of the Babylonian, the loss of the story of the Israel lights to the Babylonian Jeremiah grieved allowed.
They have healed the wounds of my people lightly saying Peace, peace. But there waas no peace. His poetry, though, is not one of scorn. It's not one of scorn to the people of Israel, but rather he's trying to articulate something to the community that they didn't know existed or they ignored it.
The people forgot their story. The people refused to truly look and see, and Jeremiah used his grief and mourning to deny the story of the king to deny the story of the royal consciousness. But he also used his grief and his lamentation to proclaim Our Greece and our morning says something about the world out there.
Just as Jeremiah's grief said something to the broken kingship, our own lamentation says something about the future. It says something about the Kingdom of God that is not yet here, but it's also a proclamation, a proclamation that it is coming.
We believe that we are people who can usher in the kingdom of God. Therefore we lament the Brokenness until we see signs of the kingdom. I found myself sitting a little too closely toe Jeremiah's words this week as I accompanied one of our neighbors and his partner to court to face his warrants.
J and L have been addicts for many years, and they've been in and out of rehab and have either slept on the streets or shifted from couch to couch until they could find a place toe lay their heads. Jay finally decided to face his warrants when l got a bed at a rehab facility at Thursday at 3 p.
m. Pastor Haley Thursday at 3 p.m. She kept saying, and he wanted it for himself, but he knew he had this lingering over his head. He needed to face the facts and take responsibility for his actions before he could focus on rehab.
So there we sat three in a row on a bench in the back of the courthouse, waiting, waiting as the alphabet determined on which people would stand before the judge and hear their fate. Friends lamentation was alive in that courtroom.
Morning was ever ever present in that space. There is something wholly broken about the system. There is something broken about our modern kingship that proclaims of false peace, peace, and I witnessed that Brokenness in the cries of mothers and daughters I witnessed.
The Brokenness is a young 18 year old African American man faced the judge for capital murder. What in the world brought him to that place at that time in front of the judge? Where did we lose him? At what point in his life was his worth declared in his ability to prove himself to prove his strength? How did the education system fail him? How did poverty keep him from succeeding? So many questions for the modern empire.
But where do we go when we know something is broken? Where do we go when we don't know how to fix it? Where do we go when we know things are not okay? Where do we go when we can no longer go on as is? Where do we go when we lose our Children to the system? Where do we go when we wake up to another atrocity of gun violence in this country? Where do we go when we lose ourselves to trauma? Where do we go when we lose what felt like the very foundation by someone's passing? We lament, we lament, and we sit in it.
We sit in the darkness and we don't ignore it. We lament because it says something mawr than our brave faces. We lament and mourn because it says something to the power's out there that created the injustice we lament and mourn because it's boulder than believing that the world will never change.
And it's bolder than existing in this world with glazed over eyes as if there is nothing that we can do about it. We lament because we believe in the Kingdom of God. Tears are a way of solidarity when no other form of solidarity remains, Stephen Colbert said.
What do you get from los awareness of other people's loss, which allows you to connect, which allows you to love the person more? Everybody has suffered and maybe suffer just as you have, so we connect on a much deeper level.
There was so much mourning in that courtroom on Thursday, but at the same time there was also connection. There was so much love. J and L connected even Mawr as they faced his fear of going forth in front of the judge.
We connected as human beings as I drove both of them to rehab on Thursday at 3 p.m. Thursday at 3 p.m. They were not going to miss that. J and L are lamenting a different kind of loss than the mother and 18 year old African American son facing the judge for capital murder.
They are lamenting the kind of life that addiction has laid before them, while they're also mourning the loss that the addiction made them feel more comfortable in the world. Grief, Morning loss trauma is all near to us in some form or fashion.
But friends let us not hide what makes us human with beating hearts. Don't worry about your brave face by learning to walk in the dark of the worst things that happen to us. By learning that we can name those things and proclaim those things by learning that we can name those things and proclaim those things here in faithful Christian community, we connect.
We connect as God intended. We connect to each other on we connect to God as God hoped for God's people. Connection is incarnation ALS love by public naming of that which hurts by public naming of that which hurts.
We usher in the Kingdom of God that challenges the world order that is not of our God. Thou shall not hide the kind of world that we believe in. Thou shall not hide the good news of the Kingdom of God that believes in a true peace for the world.
And thou shall not hide our expression of that belief, whether it is through joy and celebration or grief and mourning when the world feels upside down and chaotic when we feel like everything we have ever known has been lost.
May we remember? May we remember the power of lamentation as written from our prophetic friend Jeremiah and and may we remember the power of our remembering of our story as beloved Children of a God that promised promised to always carry us out of the wilderness into a new new land.
May it be so, um and