“What can I take as witness or liken to you, O Fair Jerusalem? What can I match with you to console you, O Fair Maiden Zion? For your ruin is vast as the sea: Who can heal you? Your seers prophesied to you delusion and folly. They did not expose your iniquity so as to restore your fortunes, but prophesied to you oracles of delusion and deception. All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they hiss and wag their head at Fair Jerusalem: ‘Is this the city that was called Perfect in Beauty, Joy of all the Earth?”
Lamentations 2:13-15 (JPS)
This election is bigger than an individual candidate; it reflects a larger schism in the soul of the United States. However, we are left with an outcome that wounds the most vulnerable. The President-elect has made hostile comments about marginalized communities that have opened the flood gates for the hate speech and hate crimes that we are witnessing in the aftermath of the election. As a result, many are experiencing a season of fear, division, chaos, and lament.
There is a reason for lamentation; a reason that there has always been language for mourning. There have always been seasons of destruction, division, and chaos. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann defines lament as “a daringly assertive way for Israel to address God in its need and…demand that God should and must respond decisively to alleviate or overcome the need.” We, who are created in God’s image, must respond to the needs and demands of a broken and lamenting world.
The book of Lamentations represents the voices of a people living on the other side of destruction. The narrator speaks directly to Daughter Zion, asking the wounded directly, “how can I bear witness to your pain and suffering?” In the question, the narrator acknowledges that he sees the depths of her pain—“your ruin is vast as the sea…” (2:13). We, at San Francisco Theological Seminary, see the depths of your pain even as we experience our own as individuals and as a community.
Often, one of the paths to healing is inflicting more pain. The process for arriving at healing is never direct; it ebbs and flows. In the days ahead there will be discussions and debates within and among communities. These conversations will not be easy; they will force all of us to acknowledge privilege and oppression, apathy and malice, “delusion and folly” (2:14). See this tension not as irreparable division but as a path to greater healing that leaves room for the possibilities of real community. Healing will come; it must come.
— From the SFTS Faculty, November 16, 2016