It was a privilege to preach from Psalm 88 this morning at Kirkplace.  One of the 'gifts' of the Psalms is that there are prayers and songs for every season in our lives.  Psalm 88 is a disturbing scripture...it draws you into the "dark night of the soul" of the writer...where everything is collapsing around them and God seems not only far away, but also responsible for their suffering  How can we engage with, and find comfort in, such a hopeless Psalms?  You can listen to the talk here

But here are some further resources that might help you if you'd like to explore these issues more.

I found Walter Bruggemann's books on the Psalms incredibly helpful in understanding the role of the Psalms in our lives, and particularly in understanding how we might engage with the language and poetry of lament.

"I think that serious religious use of the complaint psalms has been minimal because we have believed that faith does not mean to acknowledge and embrace negativity. We have thought that acknowledgment of negativity was somehow an act of unfaith, as though the very speech about it conceded too much about God's "loss of control."

"I think that serious religious use of the complaint psalms has been minimal because we have believed that faith does not mean to acknowledge and embrace negativity. We have thought that acknowledgment of negativity was somehow an act of unfaith, as though the very speech about it conceded too much about God's "loss of control."

"Metaphors are not packaged announcements; they are receptive vehicles waiting for a whole world of experience that is itself waiting to come to expression. And if, in the praying of the Psalms, we do not bring the dynamic of our own experience, we shall have flat, empty prayers treating the language as one-dimensional description."

"Metaphors are not packaged announcements; they are receptive vehicles waiting for a whole world of experience that is itself waiting to come to expression. And if, in the praying of the Psalms, we do not bring the dynamic of our own experience, we shall have flat, empty prayers treating the language as one-dimensional description."

In the sermon, we discussed how poetry not only allows it to fill the text with our feelings and experiences...but it can also deliver to us fresh and unfamiliar experiences and emotions.  I mentioned a couple of 'spoken word performances that did just that for me - Joel's is posted below.  There's another piece that I mentioned that I've decided not to post here - it's as devastating as Joel's is hope filled...and not something you want to stumble across unprepared...feel free to ask me about it. 

Here's the song we listened to near the end as we reflected again on the Psalm...I really appreciate how 'The Brilliance' dwell on themes and scriptures that aren't often found in contemporary worship music.  I've also attached a couple of lament Psalms songs I've worked on...

The Psalmist felt like they were alone in their struggles.  Each of us needs to look out for those around us...and to step into the messiness of life together when we need to.  But sometimes you might need some more help or guidance in dealing with grief, sorrow or depression.  You can call the Presbyterian Counselling Services on 1800 818 133 (free call) or find out more on the Jericho Road website.

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