About crying in church

Image: Statue of Jesus with tear, Brasiliao / Shutterstock.comA short meditation from Richard Rohr to begin this post:

“Happy are those who weep. They shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:5)

On the men’s retreats now we speak of “grief work.” A very different kind of work for men! There is undoubtedly a therapeutic, healing meaning to tears. Is not weeping, in fact, necessary? To understand? To let go? To enter in? But Jesus is also describing the state of those who have something to weep about, who feel the pain of the world. He’s saying, those who can grieve, who can cry, are those who will give comfort and compassion to the world.

The Syrian Fathers Ephraem and Simeon understood tears. The Greek Fathers of the Church tended to filter the gospel through the head. The Syrians, like today’s feminist theologians, find the gospel much more localized in the body. The Syrian Fathers wanted tears, in effect, to be a sacrament in the Church. And St. Ephraem goes so far as to say, “Until you have cried, you don’t know God.” How different! We think we know God through ideas! But this is body theology: Weeping, wiping away the tears (Luke 7:38), anointing bodies for death (Mark 14:3-9), perhaps will allow you to know God much better than concepts and orthodox formulas.

Jesus claims the weeping class: The forgotten, the voiceless, the rejected will understand, he seems to say.  —Richard Rohr in Radical Grace

Weeping, wiping away the tears (Luke 7:38) perhaps will allow you to know God much better than concepts and orthodox formulas

I continue this post with a short quote from an essay by Mallory McDuff in Sojourners (followed by a recommendation):

A Southerner by birth and the daughter of an Episcopal priest, my mother always told me that church was the best place to cry. I remember her eyes filling with tears at the beauty of a hymn, the elegance of the liturgy, or the sadness of a season. As a child, I didn’t have to understand. I just had to sit by her side in the pew—and watch her muddle through.

I commend her essay, “Why I cry in church,” to you. I commend the power and mystery of tears to you. What are your experiences, favorite quotes, wisdom about tears (in church or anywhere)?


“My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”

For those who may need to be renewed in spirit, or those who may need a respite, or those who want to sustain hope in a dark moment, I share this post from the Sunday Morning Forum in which I participate. This arrangement and performance of Psalm 23 has a beauty that refreshes (even if it brings tears to your eyes). ~dan rondeau

Hear what the Spirit is saying

I was reminded of this adaptation of the 23rd Psalm the other day and wanted to share. What a beautiful thing to remember.

(arranged by Mack Wilberg)

My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,

View original post 21 more words

A prayer for those who grieve

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18 TNIV

A divider

At times, while grieving is intense (which may be any time or all the time or at surprising times) words of prayer may be elusive. Here are some words you may use, here are some words you may ask others to use for you:

Living God, we rejoice in your promises of blessing to those who die in the Lord; so strengthen our understanding of the light and peace which they now enjoy in Christ, that we may find consolation in our sorrow, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. —A Prayer Book for New Zealand

Change the pronoun from ‘we’ to ‘I’ and ‘our’ to ‘my’, use other words inspired by this prayer, stop and rest in the opening words, “Living God” and let the Spirit cry out from your heart to God’s heart for you as you stay quiet. Let the Spirit guide you.

Trusting in the mystery of …

… The One Who Does Not Pass Away

One of my favorite daily reads is Fragments of Your Ancient Name: 365 Glimpses of the Divine for Daily Meditation by Joyce Rupp. This is her meditation for August 18th. It speaks to my questions and I pray that it will speak to yours. I do trust “The One Who Does Not Pass Away;” as you well know, some days it is easier than others. Today, with Joyce, I will seek to ‘let go.’

Dorothee Soelle
the writer who has inspired today’s ‘title of God.’

All those useless queries of mine
When a dear one departs this life,
My wondering about the “where,”
The “perhaps,” the “if,” and the “how”
Of their now disembodied existence.
All these unanswerable questions
I hand over into the mystery of yourself,
The One Who Does Not Pass Away.
Take these endless wonderings of mine.
Tuck them into your eternally alive heart.

Today: I let go and let be what is unanswerable.

Joyce Rupp. Fragments of Your Ancient Name. Kindle Edition.

A prayer


If you are among those who “are missing loved ones,” especially if through a sudden and unexpected event, you know about prayer as one way to go on.

God, we pray for peace, comfort, and wholeness, especially for the families and friends of the victims in the Nigerian plane crash this weekend. We mourn with our Nigerian brothers and sisters and all those who are missing loved ones. Amen.

From the Sojourners Blog 06/04/2012

Remembering “All Saints” through auto-fill

Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran Pastor with a congregation in Denver, CO. She is also one of my favorite writers. I appreciate her way with words, her wisdom, her questions, her enthusiasm for community and ministry.

As often happens when browsing the web, encounters are wildly serendipitous, eclectic, non-linear, creative, astounding. Though posted just before All Saints Sunday in 2011 Nadia’s experience, question, and subsequent synthesis is timeless. Here’s Nadia:

Saturday, October 29th, 2011, 10:00 a.m.: I start composing a text to a friend named Jim when my iPhone starts auto-filling the Jim names from my contact list. Jim Gonia? Jim Hassberg? I swallow hard. Jim Hassberg was the gay brother of my high school boyfriend. My relationship with Jim survived years after my relationship with his brother ended. We were young alcoholics living a crazy, hard-drinking, delirious, urban life in tandem. But in December of 1991, I got sober and Jimmy didn’t. Last fall he drank himself to death alone in his apartment. In the flash of an iPhone auto-fill, I remember it all and forget for a moment what I was doing in the first place.

Saturday, October 29th, 2011, 10:03 a.m.: I throw up a Tweet (which goes to Facebook as well): I simply can’t bear to delete the contact info of my dead friends but it makes me sad every time I see their names and numbers. Anyone else? 

Almost 30 people respond, most of whom write something like …

Continue reading, it is well worth it:  New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary: Remembering “All Saints” through auto-fill.

So you know: the contact info for my dead friends, parishioners I have worked with, even family, are still in my contacts; when the information is encountered it is a moment of remembering and prayer for the saints who have blessed my life.

via New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary: Remembering “All Saints” through auto-fill.

Grieving? When you’re ready, here’s comfort …

Here is the beginning of a blessing by Joyce Rupp in her book Now That You’ve Gone Home: Courage and Comfort for Times of Grief (Ave Maria Press).

“May your circle of understanding and caring persons be many and may you allow them to support and sustain you in your sadness.

“May you rest your heartache in the compassionate arms of God each day and find comfort from this Enduring Love.

Read the whole blessing: Spirituality & Practice: Book Excerpt: Now That You’ve Gone Home, by Joyce Hutchison, Joyce Rupp.

When you’re ready (grieving is not easy work) you may indeed find courage and comfort in this collection of stories, meditations, and prayers. If you are called upon to offer comfort to one who is grieving you will find this an excellent help to give light and healing to your words.

Read a longer review of the book on Spirituality & Practice