Blessed Are They That Mourn

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My community is hurting deeply. They are not hurting because of the results of the election per se but are hurting because of the response from the evangelical church. It is quite interesting and by God's Sovereignty that this week we are looking at lament. My community is lamenting because they feel abandoned by God. We are lamenting because it doesn't feel as if God is on our side. We are hurting because our dominant culture brothers and sisters don't hear our cries it seems. In the midst of all of this we still see hope in our lament. As we mourn and wail from every corner of our church we still have a sense that God is present with us. In my tradition which is the historic African-American church we have been here before. This is not anything new for us. These are the very reasons why we have negro spirituals that have still endured through the centuries in our churches. 
In our Western culture we don’t like to spend much time in lament. I would argue that the American church has lost the theology of lament. Dr. Soong Chan Rah in his book The Prophetic Lament says, the American church avoids lament. The theological and ministerial power of lament is minimized, and the underlying narrative of suffering that requires lament is lost. Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, absence makes the heart forget (Rah 2015)[1]. We have forgotten that the Old Testament is filled with violence, pain and suffering. The people of God experience much violence. There are wars, land removal, conquests and invasions. These events have produced much of the laments we hear and see in the book of Job, Lamentations as well as the Psalms.
There is a gift that the African-American church has for the body of Christ at large. Our theology of lament. It is through the African American experience throughout the years that we learn much about hope in suffering. The voice of an exiled people through 400 years of slavery gives us insight into the biblical context of lamentations and the psalms. Out of these experiences of slavery and Jim Crow laws comes these songs of hope. Through music an emotional connection can occur on a Sunday morning between the soloist and those in the congregation over what God has brought or is bringing them through: shared experiences of hope, pain, injustice and restoration. The artist/poet’s reflection on his or her life creates and shapes a perspective on life that others can and do identify with. When you delve into the history of any people group, you cannot separate the shared experienced from what people sing or write about. The very first spirituals were created by slaves who were not professionals. These men and women experienced the harshness of a corrupt system and theology of Christianity. They would express their soul’s desire for a future liberation while living in current chains and oppression. There are songs we sing like:
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Long way from my home
Sometimes I wish I could fly
Like a bird up in the sky
Oh, sometimes I wish I could fly
Fly like a bird up in the sky
Sometimes I wish I could fly
Like a bird up in the sky
Closer to my home
Motherless children have a hard time
Motherless children have-a such a hard time
Motherless children have such a really hard time
A long way from home
Sometimes I feel like freedom is near
Sometimes I feel like freedom is here
Sometimes I feel like freedom is so near
But we're so far from home (Motherless Child)
I didn't wake up this morning like one with no hope. I woke up with the spirit of my ancestors and those before me who say, "the struggle continues." I woke up this morning EXCITED that the true church of God has the opportunity to be a prophetic voice again. 

[1] Rah, Soong, and Brenda Salter McNeil. Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled times.
Peter Watts