Soltar a franga – releasing the inner chicken. In these past few days of festival – nights of excitement and entertainment, the time before tonight when we begin the somber and sobering journey through Lent, encouragement has been abounding in allowing people to let loose and be their true selves; as they Laissez les bons temps rouler, or let the good times roll. To let the inner chicken come out in all its glory. I love this idea – that there’s a designated time and space for the encouragement for you to call out that inner chicken, the one that sometimes hears no more than yes, or doesn’t always believe that you can indeed (or even need to) do the moonwalk at your cousin’s wedding. I love this inner chicken idea, and yet I wonder – what happens to the chicken for the rest of the year?
Now, let me just reassure you – there’s no hidden rubber chickens at any point in this worship service, nor will there be a space for us all to imitate chickens, and for sure, there is no chicken dance.
But as we enter this season of Lent – as we begin this journey other than our own – I want to explore what might be a few different chickens we have hiding in our souls – specifically, the sad chicken.
Here at NBPC in the Psalms Bible study class, we’ve been slowly working our way through the abundant book, looking at the many types of psalms represented – hymns of praise and thanksgiving, the wisdom psalms and royal psalms and a few weeks ago, we began our season of lament. I gave full warning to the crew, beginning on day 1 of the class, and day 1 of the lamenting, because we were in a for quite of few weeks where we would be hearing more the morose and somber voice of the Psalmist over the joyful shouts of Halle-you know what. I warned them it was going to be weeks of what some might consider “Debbie downer” moments: moments full of affliction, of grief, of sorrow, deep sadness, and deep anger – all pointed upward – at our God. I told them, we weren’t going to rush through these moments – that we would sit in the muck – sit in the sadness – that we were going to get down and dirty in lamenting to God. I even warned them that if there could have been a way for us to tear our garments, wear sack cloth, and roll in the ashes, I probably would have had us do it. Our sad chickens are going to be given their moment of glory – it is time for them to shine.
And yet, over and over again in our scripture – in the stories of our prophets – in the words of the psalmist and even in the life of Jesus – lament – sorrow – grief - doubt – anger exist, and they are targeted at God.
In our psalm this evening, you hear the cry of an individual to God for deliverance from a life threatening situation – a cry for restoration and sustenance – a cry for a purging of the past, full of sin and sorrow, of evil and plight. Lament is on these lips of the servant of God.
As we begin this journey with Jesus to the cross – we will see Jesus mourn and we will see him weep at the loss of his dear friend Lazarus. We will taste the betrayal Jesus encounters from a friend in the form of bread at a last supper. We will hear him cry and plead in a garden for Abba, God – to take this enormous burden from him. And we will gather at the foot of a cross, weeping with the men and women who loved Jesus when we see him die. Lament will be a part of this journey with our Savior, and I know, no one will dare say, “suck it up, buttercup.”
In crying out to God in the midst of our suffering, we’re acknowledging God’s presence in our lives, just as God was present in the lives of the prophets, of the psalmist and in the life of Jesus. In shouting out the hurt and anger to God, we’re recognizing that our God is big enough to take it, to handle it, and to change it. To lament to God is to know that our God loves us so much and that he wants to be involved our messy maze of mortality.
This lent, I invite you to cry out to God. I invite you to let the sad chicken come on out and give voice to the anger – the frustrations – the shame and sorrow that weighs upon your heart. I invite you to a season of lament. A season to share your anger – your frustrations – your sorrows – your hurts.
As my friend in college said it, “let loose the cry ball” – you know – the tightness and tension that hides in your throat from time to time, that becomes painful when you hold it in too tight. I invite you to let yourself cry – and go for the big heavy sobs, not the sniffles in the tissue. Weep and get angry alongside the parents who this very day have lost their children to yet another act of gun violence – cry those tears you didn’t shed when you lost that friend or parent too quickly– get mad that evil is at work in our world and that God’s kingdom isn’t being lived out in God’s good creation.
Shout to God what makes you sad about our world because by doing so you will acknowledge that God hears you, God sees the sadness, and God will do something about it. It’s not a pity party – it’s a sign of honesty and belief that our God remains present in both joy and sorrow – in honor and shame, in laughs and tears.
Lament in love this season of lent knowing that our God is big enough for it – our God can handle it – and as we will see on Easter morning, our God will surprise us as God takes on death, takes on sorrow, hurt and anger.
Lament in love to God knowing and trusting that there might be a time in the future when you’re able to laugh at how God has intervened in your life; how God has breathed new life into something you thought was dead - how God’s healing presence was found and was a balm to wounds you thought would never heal.
Lament in love because our God loves you. And all of you – from the hairs of your head to the dark corners of your inmost being.
Lament in love to God, because it’s an honest part of being in relationship with our God. Lament in love to God because it’s what as children of God we’re invited to do. Amen.
|Parents waiting for news in Parkland, FL, where there was a shooting this afternoon.|