Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tragic tweets

For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. (Psalm 38:2)
My post yesterday on lament provoked a few responses and some debate. One particularly stimulating Twitter thread may be worth sharing (well, three at once actually, and all with the same person at the same time; that’s the beauty – or the confusion – of Twitter).

So here it is, tidied up a little.

First @laurencecooper complimented me on the post (for which I thank him kindly), but took mild issue with one point:
Great blog. But I do think there is whining in the Bible as well. It depicts all states of being...
Adding (because Twitter doesn’t give you quite enough characters, does it?):
 ...was it Elijah whined everyone else has deserted and it's just me left? And God sympathetically gave him a bit of space...
To which I replied:
I don't think Elijah was whining in the way I meant - his complaint was justified! (though point taken about God's grace).

Meanwhile, at the same time, the conversation had launched off in another direction:
And other questions present like, can we all sing a lament song when few may be able to say that's where they're at?
To which I replied:
All should be able to feel/express world's pain; that's what prayer/lament/intercession etc is about. As all should be able to praise.
(The sharp eyed reader will spot more than 140 chracters; I've tidied up the Twitter abbrievation for the purposes of this post.) He then said:
Sure - but 'I'm in a hole and God you're a B&*%^$' is by definition an intensely personal experience and an acute one.
Me: I don't think 'God you're a B&*%^$' (to quote your verbatim) is what I'm talking about - not irreverence but honesty!
But @laurencecooper wasn't listening by then. He was on a roll:
In a quest to be emotionally authentic with God we may well express resentment, blame and so on. Hopefully we get through that...
...and God gives grace for us to allow us to work through our anger of and blame of him.
Then he caught up and clarified: 
...Obviously I'm not recommending irreverence; though scripture clearly depicts people like David getting well angry with God...

Meanwhile on the “whining” question, @laurencecooper made the point that Jonah qualifies:
Interested in what you mean by whining then. I definitely think Jonah was whining.
To which I could only reply with enthusiasm for my favourite biblical character and story (on which check out this post and this one):
I love Jonah! I think it's my favourite book!

Concurrently, a more serious question of the nature of our worship was getting underway. He tweeted:
Lament's truly a fascinating area and one we ought to be exploring.
To which I replied:
Yep. I think psalms are key; at the risk of opining, I think we neglect them in charismatic worship. Learn from monastics?
Him:Sure. we should employ the psalms more and I think happy clappies neglect them deliberately.
Me: Obviously psalms get pretty happy clappy at times (e.g. Psalm 150) - they do the full range! So what can we do to include them more?
Him: Public reading of scripture: reading psalms as a regular practise in our meetings...
Me: Yes, and not too selective - or we'll veer to the happier or more 'acceptable' ones...

Want to join in the debate? Is whining okay? If God gives us grace and prefers reality to politeness, how does reverence work within this? How could we craft more laments (and other neglected modes of worship like confession and intercession) into corporate worship in a way that would take engage the gathered church? What place the psalms? Is there a place for a lectionary or even liturgy (steady on!) in charismatic worship?

Answers on a postcard. Or perhaps on Twitter.

(You can follow me at @n0rmal and my friend Laurence at @laurencecooper.)

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