Date : 2.00pm- 9.30pm, Saturday 17 November 2012
Place : Berea, Holy Light Church (English),
Jalan Gertak Merah, 80100 Johor Bahru
Synopsis : We live in a world filled with pain, grief, and lament. So we insulate ourselves from these things in order not to hurt ourselves. We cannot run away from tragedy, pain, and grief. These things are part of the natural world that we live in. But because we continue to insulate ourselves from them, we have come to a point where we are often hopelessly lost for words when tragedies strike us. We run out of words to say and to offer to those who are grieving. We try to reduce the consequences of the tragedy, play down the scale of its magnitude, and brush aside the pain of its implications. We have become a culture unable to wrestle deeply with pain and grief. We have lost the social practice, lack the words of comfort, and muddle the concepts necessary to help us face pain squarely in the face.
We are expected to come to church happy and glad all the time. There are no more private places to grieve and work through the pain in a normal church worship service. We launch off into praise expecting everyone to be able to jump-start to praise God when the person is hurting deep inside. As one writer puts it, we have ‘lost the ability to sing the blues in the church’. We put little emphasis on the confession and penitence part in the worship. There is little time to orientate ourselves to come before God’s presence. There ought to be a place for the blues in the church because its absence is often a result of our own pride and arrogance to think that we must always be victorious in the Christian walk. How can we recover the voice of grief and lament? How can we recover an authentic voice that can help us voice our deepest sorrows and pain? How can we speak for those in grief and how can we speak for ourselves when we go through a similar road? The book of Lamentations has something to offer, it teaches us to respond adequately to grief and suffering, to learn to live with the silence of God, and to live with unanswered questions
Rev Dr Anthony Loke is an ordained minister with the Trinity Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in Malaysia as well as a Old Testament lecturer in Seminari Theoloji Malaysia. His current interests include studying the Old Testament, writing articles and books, speaking about the political and social contexts of Malaysia, and a strong advocate against injustice and oppression. He is married to King Lang, who is currently working with the SIB church in Sarawak to develop their kindergarten ministry. They have two grown-up children studying at the tertiary level overseas.