A Lent Reflection for Saturday, April 1, 2023
By The Rev. Lauren Scott
Lectionary reading: Psalm 31:9-16; Lamentations 3:55-66; Mark 10:32-34
Selected passage: Lamentations 3:55-66
Lamentations 3:55-66 (NRSV)
55 I called on your name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit;
56 you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear
to my cry for help, but give me relief!”
57 You came near when I called on you;
you said, “Do not fear!”
58 You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
you have redeemed my life.
59 You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
judge my cause.
60 You have seen all their malice,
all their plots against me.
61 You have heard their taunts, O Lord,
all their plots against me.
62 The whispers and murmurs of my assailants
are against me all day long.
63 Whether they sit or rise—see,
I am the object of their taunt songs.
64 Pay them back for their deeds, O Lord,
according to the work of their hands!
65 Give them anguish of heart;
your curse be on them!
66 Pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under the Lord’s heavens.
Can I Get A Witness?
Imagine this. You walk into a hospital as a chaplain intern completing Clinical Pastoral Education. It is the Summer of 2021. Because of the recent spike of COVID cases, there are signs throughout the hospital that read “No visitors.” Although visitation is limited, you see the ICU and the Emergency Department overflowing with patients. Hospital staff members tell you that waiting rooms are going to be converted into patient rooms because every bed in the hospital is taken. You then hear the chaplain phone ring. You answer it. It is a nurse. “Will you come to this room?”, she asks with a trembling voice. And so you go. You find yourself in the ICU. You sanitize your hands and slowly walk in. There in the hospital bed is an older woman experiencing one labored breath after the next. The only other person there is the nurse whose voice you heard on the other end of the phone. She’s crying. Her mask is wet from all of her tears. She has spent hours of advocating, caring, supporting, and loving this beloved child of God. You wrap your arms around her as you both turn your attention to the patient as their breathing gets even more labored. “I needed someone to be here with me.”, she says. “I see you. I hear you. I am proud of you. I am grateful for you. I love you.”, you softly say back. And it is in that moment that you realize what you have become: a witness.
A witness is what the author of Lamentations needed as well. This text is saturated with grief, despair, and fear. The author is calling on the Lord from the depths of the pit. In the selected text we read that the author wants God to “see” (nāḇaṭ, v. 63). This word in Hebrew can also mean “pay attention”. The author needs to be reminded that they do not journey alone.
Although these texts are full of grief, despair, and fear, they also remind us of God’s assurances and promises. Lamentations (particularly the text that is found in chapter three) gives us hope and encourages us to trust that God is present with us and is at work among us, within us, and through us. As a result, we, too, can be witnesses for one another. We can see one another for who they truly are. We can show up and be present in the joys and pains of living with each other. We can pay attention to the lived experiences of another.
We all need a witness. We all can be a witness. Thanks be to God.
When has someone been a witness to you and for you?
What are some experiences in your life right now in which you are seeking a witness?
How can you serve as a witness to others?
God who was and is and is yet to come - We thank you for your presence that is always with us. We also give you thanks for the people who come into our lives who witness the joys and pains of our living. Encourage us and challenge us to be witnesses to and for others. It is in your holy name we pray. Amen.
About the Author
The Reverend Lauren Scott (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Families at Riverside Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, FL. Lauren graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia with a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts of Practical Theology. You can often find Lauren sipping coffee at local coffee shops; traveling and exploring new places; watching the dolphins from her apartment balcony; and spending time outside with her dog, Georgia.