Lent is the 40 day journey towards the hope of Jesus’ resurrection which we proclaim at Easter. During this Lenten season, we’ll cultivate language and practices of lament through the reading of the Old Testament book of Lamentations.
On Ash Wednesday we gather to solemnly remember that we are but dust; that we came from the dirt and are bound to return to the dirt. This day of memory and repentance marks the beginning of the Lenten journey towards the healing and hope of the Cross and Empty Tomb.
The Disintegration Loops 1.1 by William Bazinski
She sits alone, the city that was once full of people.
Once great among nations, she has become like a widow.
Once a queen over provinces, she has become a slave
She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears on her cheek.
None of her lovers comfort
her. All her friends lied to her;
they have become her enemies.
Judah was exiled after suffering and hard service.
She lives among the nations; she finds no rest.
All who were chasing her caught her—right in the middle of
Zion’s roads are in mourning; no one comes to the festivals.
All her gates are deserted. Her priests are groaning,
her young women grieving. She is bitter.
Her adversaries have become rulers; her enemies relax.
Certainly the Lord caused her grief because of her many wrong acts.
Her children have gone away, captive before the enemy.
Daughter Zion lost all her glory.
Her officials are like deer that can’t find pasture.
They have gone away, frail, before the hunter.
While suffering and homeless, Jerusalem remembers all her treasures from days long past.
When her people fell by the enemy’s hand, there was no one to help her.
Enemies saw her, laughed at her defeat.
Jerusalem has sinned greatly; therefore, she’s become a joke.
All who honored her now detest her, for they’ve seen her naked.
Even she groans and turns away.
Her uncleanness shows on her clothing; she didn’t consider what would happen to her.
She’s gone down shockingly; she has no comforter.
“Lord, look at my suffering—the enemy has definitely triumphed!”
The enemy grabbed all her treasures.
She watched nations enter her sanctuary—
nations that you, God, commanded: They must not enter your assembly.
All her people are groaning, seeking bread.
They give up their most precious things for food to survive.
“Lord, look and take notice: I am most certainly despised.”
Is this nothing to all you who pass by?
Look around: Is there any suffering like the suffering inflicted on me,
the grief that the Lord caused on the day of his fierce anger?
From above he sent fire into my bones; he trampled them.
He spread a net for my feet; he forced me backward.
He left me devastated, constantly sick.
My steps are being watched; by his hand they are tripped up.
His yoke is on my neck; he makes my strength fail.
My Lord has handed me over to people I can’t resist.
My Lord has despised my mighty warriors.
He called a feast for me—in order to crush my young men!
My Lord has stomped on the winepress of the young woman Daughter Judah.
Because of all these things I’m crying. My eyes, my own eyes pour water
because a comforter who might encourage me is nowhere near.
My children are destroyed because the enemy was so strong.
Zion spreads out her hands; she has no comforter.
The Lord commanded Jacob’s enemies to surround him.
Jerusalem is just a piece of garbage to them.
The Lord is right, because I disobeyed his word.
Listen, all you people; look at my suffering.
My young women and young men have gone away as prisoners.
I called to my lovers, but they deceived me.
My priests and my elders have perished in the city;
they were looking for food to survive.
Pay attention, Lord, for I am in trouble. My stomach is churning;
my heart is pounding inside me because I am so bitter.
In the streets the sword kills; in the house it is like death.
People heard that I was groaning, that I had no comforter.
All my enemies heard about my distress; they were thrilled that you had done this.
Bring the day you have announced so they become like me!
Let all their evil come before you.
Then injure them like you’ve injured me because of all my wrong acts;
my groans are many, my heart is sick.
In anger, my Lord put Daughter Zion under a cloud;
he threw Israel’s glory from heaven down to earth.
On that day of wrath, he didn’t consider his own footstool.
Showing no compassion, my Lord devoured each of Jacob’s meadows;
in his wrath he tore down the walled cities of Daughter Judah.
The kingdom and its officials, he forced to the ground, shamed.
In his burning rage, he cut off each of Israel’s horns;
right in front of the enemy, he withdrew his strong hand;
he burned against Jacob like a flaming fire that ate up everything nearby.
He bent his bow as an enemy would; his strong hand was poised like an adversary.
He killed every precious thing in sight;
he poured out his wrath like fire on Daughter Zion’s tent.
My Lord has become like an enemy. He devoured Israel;
he devoured all her palaces; he made ruins of her city walls.
In Daughter Judah he multiplied mourning along with more mourning!
He wrecked his own booth like a garden; he destroyed his place for festivals.
The Lord made Zion forget both festival and sabbath;
in his fierce rage, he scorned both monarch and priest.
My Lord rejected his altar, he abandoned his sanctuary;
he handed Zion’s palace walls over to enemies.
They shouted in the Lord’s own house as if it were a festival day.
The Lord planned to destroy Daughter Zion’s wall.
He stretched out a measuring line, didn’t stop himself from devouring.
He made barricades and walls wither—together they wasted away.
Zion’s gates sank into the ground; he broke and shattered her bars;
her king and her officials are now among the nations. There is no Instruction!
Even her prophets couldn’t find a vision from the Lord.
Daughter Zion’s elders sit on the ground and mourn.
They throw dust on their heads; they put on mourning clothes.
Jerusalem’s young women bow their heads all the way to the ground.
My eyes are worn out from weeping; my stomach is churning.
My insides are poured on the ground because the daughter of my people is shattered,
because children and babies are fainting in the city streets.
They say to their mothers, “Where are grain and wine?”
while fainting like the wounded in the city streets,
while their lives are draining away at their own mothers’ breasts.
What can I testify about you, Daughter Jerusalem? To what could I compare you?
With what could I equate you? How can I comfort you, young woman Daughter Zion?
Your hurt is as vast as the sea. Who can heal you?
Your prophets gave you worthless and empty visions.
They didn’t reveal your sin so as to prevent your captivity.
Instead, they showed you worthless and incorrect prophecies.
All who pass by on the road clap their hands about you;
they whistle, shaking their heads at Daughter Jerusalem:
“Could this be the city called Perfect Beauty, the Joy of All the Earth?”
All your enemies open wide their mouths against you;
they whistle, grinding their teeth. They say, “We have devoured!
This is definitely the day we’ve been waiting for. We’ve seen it come to pass.”
The Lord did what he had planned. He accomplished the word
that he had commanded long ago. He ripped down, showing no compassion.
He made the enemy rejoice over you; he raised up your adversaries’ horn.
Cry out to my Lord from the heart, you wall of Daughter Zion;
make your tears run down like a flood all day and night.
Don’t relax at all; don’t rest your eyes a moment.
Get up and cry out at nighttime, at the start of the night shift; pour out your heart before my Lord like water.
Lift your hands up to him for the life of your children—
the ones who are fainting from hunger on every street corner.
Lord, look and see to whom you have done this!
Should women eat their own offspring, their own beautiful babies?
Should priest and prophet be killed in my Lord’s own sanctuary?
Young and old alike lie on the ground in the streets;
my young women and young men fall dead by the sword.
On the day of your anger, you killed; you slaughtered, showing no compassion.
You invited—as if to a festival!—terrors from every side.
On the day of the Lord’s anger, no one escaped, not one survived.
The children that I nurtured, that I raised myself, my enemy finished them off.
I am someone who saw the suffering caused by God’s angry rod.
He drove me away, forced me to walk in darkness, not light.
He turned his hand even against me, over and over again, all day long.
He wore out my flesh and my skin; he broke my bones.
He besieged me, surrounding me with bitterness and weariness.
He made me live in dark places like those who’ve been dead a long time.
He walled me in so I couldn’t escape; he made my chains heavy.
Even though I call out and cry for help, he silences my prayer.
He walled in my paths with stonework; he made my routes crooked.
He is a bear lurking for me, a lion in hiding.
He took me from my path and tore me apart; he made me desolate.
He drew back his bow, made me a shooting target for arrows.
He shot the arrows of his quiver into my inside parts.
I have become a joke to all my people, the object of their song of ridicule all day long.
He saturated me with grief, made me choke on bitterness.
He crushed my teeth into the gravel; he pressed me down into the ashes.
I’ve rejected peace; I’ve forgotten what is good.
I thought: My future is gone, as well as my hope from the Lord.
The memory of my suffering and homelessness is bitterness and poison.
I can’t help but remember and am depressed.
I call all this to mind—therefore, I will wait.
Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through!
They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness.
I think: The Lord is my portion! Therefore, I’ll wait for him.
The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to the person who seeks him.
It’s good to wait in silence for the Lord’s deliverance.
It’s good for a man to carry a yoke in his youth.
He should sit alone and be silent when God lays it on him.
He should put his mouth in the dirt—perhaps there is hope.
He should offer his cheek for a blow; he should be filled with shame.
My Lord definitely won’t reject forever.
Although he has caused grief, he will show compassion in measure with his covenant loyalty.
He definitely doesn’t enjoy affliction, making humans suffer.
Now crushing underfoot all the earth’s prisoners,
denying someone justice before the Most High,
subverting a person’s lawsuit—doesn’t my Lord see all this?
Who ever spoke and it happened if my Lord hadn’t commanded the same?
From the mouth of the Most High evil things don’t come, but rather good!
Why then does any living person complain; why should anyone complain about their sins?
We must search and examine our ways; we must return to the Lord.
We should lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
We are the ones who did wrong; we rebelled. But you, God, have not forgiven.
You wrapped yourself up in wrath and hunted us; you killed, showing no compassion.
You wrapped yourself up in a cloud; prayers can’t make it through!
You made us trash and garbage in front of all other people.
All our enemies have opened their mouths against us.
Terror and trap have come upon us, catastrophe and collapse!
Streams of water pour from my eyes because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.
My eyes flow and don’t stop. There is no relief
until the Lord looks down from the heavens and notices.
My eyes hurt me because of what’s happened to my city’s daughters.
My enemies hunted me down like a bird, relentlessly, for no reason.
They caught me alive in a pit and threw stones at me;
water flowed over my head. I thought: I’m finished.
I call on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit.
Hear my voice. Don’t close your ear to my need for relief, to my cry for help.
Come near to me on the day I call to you. Say to me, “Don’t be afraid.”
My Lord! Plead my desperate case; redeem my life.
Lord, look at my mistreatment; judge my cause.
Look at all of my enemies’ vengeance, all of their scheming against me.
Hear their jeering, Lord, all of their scheming against me,
the speech of those who rise up against me, their incessant gossiping about me.
Whether sitting or standing, look at how I am the object of their song of ridicule.
Pay them back fully, Lord, according to what they have done.
Give them a tortured mind—put your curse on them!
Angrily hunt them down; wipe them out from under the Lord’s heaven.
How the gold has grown dim,
how the pure gold is changed!
The sacred stones lie scattered
at the head of every street.
The precious children of Zion,
worth their weight in fine gold—
how they are reckoned as earthen pots,
the work of a potter’s hands!
Even the jackals offer the breast
and nurse their young,
but my people has become cruel,
like the ostriches in the wilderness.
The tongue of the infant sticks
to the roof of its mouth for thirst;
the children beg for food,
but no one gives them anything.
Those who feasted on delicacies
perish in the streets;
those who were brought up in purple
cling to ash heaps.
For the chastisement of my people has been greater
than the punishment of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment,
though no hand was laid on it.
Her princes were purer than snow,
whiter than milk;
their bodies were more ruddy than coral,
their hair like sapphire.
Now their visage is blacker than soot;
they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it has become as dry as wood.
Happier were those pierced by the sword
than those pierced by hunger,
whose life drains away, deprived
of the produce of the field.
The hands of compassionate women
have boiled their own children;
they became their food
in the destruction of my people.
The Lord gave full vent to his wrath;
he poured out his hot anger,
and kindled a fire in Zion
that consumed its foundations.
The kings of the earth did not believe,
nor did any of the inhabitants of the world,
that foe or enemy could enter
the gates of Jerusalem.
It was for the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed the blood of the righteous
in the midst of her.
Blindly they wandered through the streets,
so defiled with blood
that no one was able
to touch their garments.
“Away! Unclean!” people shouted at them;
“Away! Away! Do not touch!”
So they became fugitives and wanderers;
it was said among the nations,
“They shall stay here no longer.”
The Lord himself has scattered them,
he will regard them no more;
no honor was shown to the priests,
no favor to the elders.
Our eyes failed, ever watching
vainly for help;
we were watching eagerly
for a nation that could not save.
They dogged our steps
so that we could not walk in our streets;
our end drew near; our days were numbered;
for our end had come.
Our pursuers were swifter
than the eagles in the heavens;
they chased us on the mountains,
they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
The Lord’s anointed, the breath of our life,
was taken in their pits—
the one of whom we said, “Under his shadow
we shall live among the nations.”
Rejoice and be glad, O daughter Edom,
you that live in the land of Uz;
but to you also the cup shall pass;
you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.
The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter Zion, is accomplished,
he will keep you in exile no longer;
but your iniquity, O daughter Edom, he will punish,
he will uncover your sins.
Lord, consider what has become of us; take notice of our disgrace. Look at it!
Our property has been turned over to strangers;
our houses belong to foreigners.
We have become orphans, having no father;
our mothers are like widows.
We drink our own water—but for a price;
we gather our own wood—but pay for it.
Our hunters have been at our necks;
we are worn out, but have no rest.
We held out a hand to Egypt
and to Assyria, to get sufficient food.
Our fathers have sinned and are gone,
but we are burdened with their iniquities.
Slaves rule over us; there is no one to rescue us
from their power.
We get our bread at the risk of our lives
because of the desert heat.
Our skin is as hot as an oven
because of the burning heat of famine.
Women have been raped in Zion,
young women in Judah’s cities.
Officials have been hung up by their hands;
elders have been shown no respect.
Young men have carried grinding stones;
boys have stumbled under loads of wood.
Elders have left the city gate;
young people stop their music.
Joy has left our heart;
our dancing has changed into lamentation.
The crown has fallen off our head.
We are doomed because we have sinned.
Because of all this our heart is sick;
because of these things our glance is dark.
Mount Zion, now deserted—
only jackals walk on it now!
But you, Lord, will rule forever;
your throne lasts from one generation to the next.
Why do you forget us continually;
why do you abandon us for such a long time?
Return us, Lord, to yourself. Please let us return!
Give us new days, like those long ago—
unless you have completely rejected us,
or have become too angry with us.