The Worship Quote of the Week for (03/18/2008):

Morning and Mourning
Is there an appropriate place in Christian worship for lament? When we read or sing the biblical Psalms, do we too easily skip over the "hard" ones? Do we prefer to ignore the passages that seem to question God's goodness, or perhaps his timing? There are so many situations in life when the "shining presence of God" is only understood because we recognize that, for a time, we have experienced the hiddenness of God. Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK is taken from the most recent book by singer-songwriter Michael Card, THE HIDDEN FACE OF GOD. You need to know that the Hebrew word "HESED" means "loving-kindness." Please read on.

David, who spent more than his share of long, agonizing nights, knew that morning is the time when things inevitably change for the better (Psalm 5:3; 143:8). Even in the midst of his darkest, most mournful lament, Jeremiah recognized that morning was a special time to wait for the trustworthy appearance of the HESED of God (Lamentations 3:22-23). The appearance of his loving-kindness and compassionate faithfulness meant the end of morning, for the time being. What makes morning unique is that it is the time when HESED appears.

They are both old, sturdy, Anglo-Saxon words: "morning" and "mourning." Despite the fact that they sound virtually the same, they descend from two completely different roots, as their spelling indicates. Yet they are inextricably linked in the Bible.

Though no translator in his right mind would render the verse this way, Psalm 30:5 could be translated, "Mourning may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning."

Perhaps what links the two words together is the fact that they both represent moments when we "wake up." Clearly morning is the time when we open our eyes to the hope of a new day; but in another, deeper sense, a time of mourning can also be and occasion when we "come to our senses" and with new, tear-cleansed eyes see the world as we have never seen it before.

When suffering wakes us up, lament leads us to a new understanding of who God is and what He means, or can mean, to us. The good news is that He is fully present, both in the joy that comes in the morning as well as in the sorrow of mourning.

"Now is your time of grief," Jesus told his disciples just before He was arrested, "but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy" (John 16:22). That first Easter morning, as the disciples awoke from their sorrowful sleep, could they have ever dreamed of the greater joy to which they were about to awake--a joy that could only come to them in the morning after their long night of unspeakable mourning?

--Michael Card, from THE HIDDEN FACE OF GOD: FINDING THE MISSING DOOR TO THE FATHER THROUGH LAMENT, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007, pp. 49-50. ISBN-13: 978-1-57683-669-9.

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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