A Litany of Lament May 2020

Person 1: In these days of COVID-19, many people have suffered great loss and unimaginable tragedy.

In the sacred texts of Jewish and Christian tradition, we are encouraged to acknowledge the losses we experience and express to God the pain we feel. We are encouraged to pour out the lament of our hearts.

In lament we do not seek solutions or look for answers. Grief is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be lived. We seek only to express the heartache that afflicts the world at this time.


Person 1: And so boldly we join the Psalmist and ask God –

Person 2: 24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? (Psalm 44:24)

Person 1: 1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long? (Psalm 13:1,2)

Person 2: 25 For we sink down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground. (Psalm 44:25)

BOTH: Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy


Person 1:  God of life, there has been too much untimely death. The numbers are staggering. We cannot begin to comprehend 350,000 people in four months taken from the human community.

Person 2: Each of these people was someone’s child, or parent, brother, sister, aunt or uncle, a neighbour or a co-worker. Every death leaves us diminished. Lord it is too much. The ripples of pain reach every corner of the human family.  Who can calculate the sorrow of those whose hearts ache with loss and those who continue to struggle with affliction in bodies imperfectly healed?

Person 1: How can we hold this suffering? We resist the temptation to look away or distract ourselves from the horror.

BOTH: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy

Person 2: But it is not only the trauma tallied in numbers of dead and wounded. We suffer today from the loss of a way of life.

Person 1: We suffer from the absence of physical connection, drastically rising unemployment, so many activities no longer possible.

BOTH: Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy

Person 2: In the face of all that has been lost, we see that we have taken our lifestyle and our privilege for granted. Too often, we have forgotten that every breath is a gift and that there are many in the world whose circumstances are less fortunate than ours.

Person 1: We confess that we have clung to the illusion of a security that, we have been reminded in these months, is utterly frail.

Person 2: Now that so much in which we trusted has been taken, we repent Lord of our complacency. We lament our ingratitude for the gifts which we have grasped as possessions, rather than received as signs of grace.

Person 1: We repent of the careless and mindless ways we have lived.

Person 2: We repent of the abuse we have inflicted on creation and the times we have cared for ourselves without consideration for the other.


Person 1: We give thanks God of Life for the nourishment we have known in the bread broken and shared at this table.

Person 2: We seek to enter the flow of love and compassion that is the wine poured out from the cup we have shared in this place.

Person 1: Help us to discern your body in every person and the miracle of life that flows in all of creation.

Person 2: We join the Psalmist and plead:

Person 1: 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death (Psalm 13:3)

BOTH: God of compassion, hear our prayer.

Person 2: Where Oh God will we behold your light?

Person 1: Open our eyes to awaken to your presence in the midst of darkness.


Person 2: As we behold your Son upon the cross help us to know that this pain is your pain. This broken body is the suffering Christ in whom all Life is held.

Person 1: You are with us in the waves of sorrow that sweep upon the shores of the human family.

Person 2: You are the steady heartbeat at the centre of Life. You are the light that can never be extinguished.

Person 1: You are the Love that never dies.

BOTH: We celebrate the indomitable power of Life. We rest in the goodness of your Love which pours in through all the broken places.

Person 2: We give thanks for those who bravely put themselves in harm’s way day after day on the front lines of our social fabric.

Person 1: We pray for continued wisdom and guidance for all who are in positions of leadership and authority. May they govern with compassion and justice for all.


Person 2: In the midst of darkness, we affirm the light.

Person 1: In the midst of chaos and confusion, we choose to seek goodness and beauty.

Person 2: In the midst of lament, may we have the courage to stay present to all the circumstances of our lives.

Person 1: May we soften and open to your Spirit so that, from our broken hearts, may flow that stream of Life that is greater than grief.

BOTH: May the needs of this hour cause us to grow in trust and to live more deeply as people of compassion and agents of healing in the world. AMEN


C. Page 30 May 2020