Following a sermon series from the book of Lamentations, the congregation was invited to submit contributions - written, painted, musical - to our own 'Book of Lament', to help us all find a way through the Coronavirus pandemic.
To introduce it, our Rector Will wrote: 'The writer of the book of Lamentations created something very personal – some of it is a rant to God – and I encourage you to be honest with God about how you have been struggling. Perhaps even think of it as a letter – a written prayer – to God. '
Here are some of the contributions. Feel free to add your own - send it to the Rector (email@example.com
or the office (firstname.lastname@example.org
For all those who have lost a loved one to Coronavirus:
"Our hearts bleed for you."
Sally Cooper 2021
Trapped inside a bubble,
I can virtually see beyond, but, in reality, not so.
I cannot be with, touch, embrace and kiss,
run with, play with, eat and drink with,
walk with, talk with, laugh uncontrollably with
the ones I love, the objects of my passion.
They are trapped inside their own, imprisoning bubbles, too.
It’s hard, but we’ll survive.
One day our claustrophobic bubbles will burst,
and we’ll be free
to live again.
© Chris Murray.
Who do I think I am to make lament? – I, who am spoiled in my whiteness, my likeness to an accepted race, writ large upon my aging face
Western, old with the comforts of the belly to insulate my wearing bones, money in the bank and much security, a distinctive house of several rooms, numbered with the few
Who have that most precious place, a garden, in which to breathe, to work, to play, to entertain in better times, whose animals roam free to leave their signs
And live their pampered lives unknowing of the pestilence around.
Lament? For Me? Lament rather for those of greater age who live alone, for those who struggle with a mind unchained, made manic by this cursed pandemic.
Lament rather for our young, whose lives are all they should not be, whose jobs and prospects, loves and learning are put in jeopardy by this dread Corona virus ever turning
From one mutation to the next. Cry for those so trapped at home their bruises have no time to heal, those whose bodies are abused whose minds are groomed strapped to the wheel
Of their unending daily repetition – indeed a Groundhog Day,
For them will I lament but not for me. For harried parents hard at work, for nurses, doctors, caring staff, for those whose livelihoods are gone, whose days of smile and song
Of meeting friends and drinking games, of sports events and meals together – parties, Christmas, wedding plans, are vanished in this haze of never ending Covid days.
For those who number now among the dead and those they leave behind,
For all of them I will lament, but I will not lament for me. For me I count my blessings too numerous to boast, pray God I learn to pay them on, to share, to make the most
Of gifts I have been given. To use my own good fortune to spread some joy and cheer around the folks who meet me now, and those who’ve known me year on year.
To try and light a little spark to help us journey through this dark.
After a year when we have been unable to hug, embrace, share meals, or all meet together, how wonderful it was that four generations of our family were able to be in church together on Christmas Day. We could barely talk to each other through masks and social distancing, all having to go our separate ways as we left the sanctuary. Thank God for these brief moments of joy.
This is one of many prayers I have poured out at many times in my
distress over the last many months .
Dear Heavenly Father ,
Thank you for all your love and care during all these dark days and endless lockdowns .
You know how anxious and sad I have often felt . The long days of loneliness and
isolation . The days when the tears flow endlessly .
Thank you for sustaining and comforting me when I have felt so alone . The lack of
company and missing family and friends so much .
I pray that soon life may return to some normality and I can meet in person with family
and friends again .
At times there seems little hope on the horizon .
I pray you will continue to sustain me through my loneliest moments and that you will
bring me peace in my heart . Help me to trust you and to remember all your goodness
and many blessings . Give me hope for the future .
Through Jesus Christ our Lord , Amen
Our deepest lament is that our Nation, upon which God has had His Hand for centuries,
has not called out to Him in this pestilence of Biblical proportions but instead turned
to and relied upon our human government and scientists.
Lord Jesus, nothing seems right in the world and I am bothered by so many things.
My ever-increasing lack of motivation.
My inability to concentrate properly and as a result miss opportunities to give help and encouragement to others.
Dwelling on wrong decisions and mistakes of the past, about which I can do nothing except ask your forgiveness.
Discontent with myself and a feeling of worthlessness.
My loss of confidence.
Despondency that prevents me from tackling jobs that I ought to be doing.
Help me to remember Lord that your love is stronger than any of the things that trouble me and that you are always in charge, whatever happens.
O God, have mercy on your bewildered children, that in the midst of this alarming world they may recognize in Jesus your personal care and your presence to heal and save.
May we be agents of that care and that presence, in spite of the little we can do, because we know Jesus.
Everyday Prayers by Allen Birtwhistle, Bernard Thorogood & Michael Walker
TWENTY TWENTY RE-ENVISIONED
To Wycombe Town we wave goodbyes,
Our future North is beckoning,
Sadness at those broken ties,
But North West Bucks so welcoming.
New town, new church, new friends, new home,
New life and neighbours too,
And then the dreadful Covid comes
And locks us down to two.
Our house is closed, our door is shut,
No coffee, cakes, they’re “off”.
No neighbours in, our friends locked out,
No tea and buns to scoff.
And so we try and break the ice
By using other ways.
We bake a cake and dress it nice
And knock on doors these days.
Then zooming here, and zooming there,
Takes on another meaning.
We don’t in fact go anywhere,
Just sit there on our seating.
Though if we have no Covid cough,
With masks we walk, perchance,
Side stepping quick two metres off,
In-the anti social dance.
Behind those masks I thought I caught
A glimpse of James and Paula.
His legs are longer than I thought
And she a little shorter.
So on these daily healthful walks
We sometimes meet our friends.
Just briefly pause to have our talks.
I’m going round the bend.
Wow, church is open! But we’re wise,
We mask like-a secret society.
We learn to smile with our eyes,
Observe Covid propriety.
Oh twenty twenty take your place
In history as the year
Which made its start without a trace
Of-the disrupts we’d endure.
Our vision for the year proved poor;
We thought it would go well.
But one thing that it’s shown for sure,
…….. You-can never, ever, tell.
But when my heart is in my boots,
My feet in mire and clay,
I then remember Whose I am,
Who’s with me come what may.
The Son brings Sonshine, breaks the clouds,
Shines light into my tomb,
My life’s still worth the living b’cause
God’s presence shatters gloom.
I lift my voice in joyful praise
To Him whose Word is King,
Who lifts me high above the storm,
Whose peace makes my heart sing.
I was a keen Walker. When I retired I acquired a part time job with a travel firm, taking walking and sightseeing tours all over Europe, from Spain to Poland, from Italy to Russia. It was a splendid way to enhance retirement, and when our daughter went to live in America, travel was extended to include many parts of the United States.
Then, about eighteen months ago, I found I could no longer walk without a stick, then my balance was affected. My condition worsened over the months, and now, no longer able to drive or walk without a rollator, I am more or less housebound. This seemed to be a real cause for lament. What had God in mind for me?
Having come to know the Lord Jesus some sixty years ago, I knew there would be something, even though I had to wait for nine months for a hospital referral to be transformed into an appointment.
Of course, this was not the first setback in life I had suffered. The Lord had borne myself and my wife through very difficult times as well as times of great joy. We have both hope and confidence. As we read in Lamentations chapter 3 verse 4 “He has made my skin and my flesh grow old...” BUT in verses 22 and 23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”. That is the new life that Jesus offers.
Song of Lament 2020/21
How long, O Lord, must we endure
this endless state of lockdown pain?
How long maintain this smiling front
till normal life returns again?
We pose as actors, playing parts
and loudly strut about each day
until the final curtain falls
on this our long, depressing play.
The birds flock in to welcome spring –
show off by singing joyful songs.
But we are forced to hibernate,
imprisoned where we don’t belong.
Why do we have to live like moles?
We’re trapped where twilight never ends;
we spend all day inside, alone,
cut off from family and friends.
Did God inflict this pain on us?
Is He the one that we should blame?
Why won’t he simply intervene
and set it all to rights again?
Lord, are you looking after us?
Did you just look the other way?
Why can’t you come and save us now
so we don’t suffer one more day?
Who is this one who questions me
demanding answers from afar,
yet knowing nothing of this world?
And you – who do you think you are?
So where were you when I began
to make this world? Can you explain
the mysteries of the universe?
Or measure out the earth’s domain?
Who set the planets in the sky?
Who put in place earth’s cornerstones,
while morning stars all sang with glee
and angels joyfully intoned?
Could you take on and run this world,
or make a better Paradise?
What do you know of how it works?
Answer, if you have advice!
Could you design a mountain goat?
Improve upon the human brain?
Can you control the lightning bolts,
or get a corpse to breathe again?
Is there one thing that I can’t do?
Do you not think I’m in command?
What limits me, do you suppose?
So how much do you understand?
If you just waited, you would find
that good will come by my decree.
Be patient; wait in hope, and trust -
your future is secure in me.
Ah, my Lord God, I bow in shame;
I see my knowledge is so small.
Forgive my ignorance of things
I hardly understand at all.
I’m sorry for my disrespect,
assuming always I know best;
while I am only small and weak,
and you are God made manifest.
And yes, I know deep in my heart
that God is goodness, truth, and love.
‘Your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth, as in the heaven above.’
Your love for me just proves the point
that you’re so great, and I’m so small.
‘Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my souls, my life, my all.’
© Paul Mileham April 2021
has written a piece of music for the Book of Lament. Click the arrow to play.
LOVE ON A SCREEN
I saw love today, on a screen,
a little boy, on his birthday – two years of love.
Such love – beyond words – given and received.
Love with tears, love with laughter - so much laughter, crazy fun.
Wondrous joy in timeless moments,
blissful cuddles, precious falling asleep on me,
hearts beating as one, part of me.
Growing so fast, learning so quickly,
mastering skills, exploring, adventures.
Now, for a time, love frustrated,
apart, no touch, no cuddles.
No lying on and letting down the air-bed,
swaying and rolling, like sailors on a heaving deck,
just above a heaving, angry ocean.
No walks together, pushing swings and last minute play – running away,
being just missed by little feet, to shrieks of infant laughter.
No messy meals, sweeping the floor,
where unwanted items have been mischievously hurled,
or splashing with little boats, a rubber octopus and bubbles, in the bath.
At least we see him on a screen, still make him laugh,
are made to laugh, like no-one, nothing else can do,
and say, “I LOVE YOU !…”
© Chris Murray, for Arlo.
I came across this (via my second cousin, Revd Wyn Beynon) and in it God spoke to me about the true meaning of this period.
7 Hiraeth, Lament and Joy: Hope
The Welsh word hiraeth is not easily translated.
‘Longing’ or ‘home sickness’ are too simple,
for it also holds a sense of grief.
It is not nostalgia
but a sensing of deep connection, of loss,
with the curious hope that all is not lost in God.
Loss is placed into the hands of God's chesed,
God's loving kindness,
and this enables us to lament.
Lament is the foundation of joy.
Lament is not sorrow, but beyond sorrow,
holding grief and hope.
Hiraeth describes the experience of lament.
Beyond loss and longing comes joy
though joy with tears.
Priests learn hiraeth
so that lamenting with joy
they witness to hope,
the sure and certain hope of resurrection.
Hiraeth makes us long to go home.
And our home is God, who longs to welcome us
to the present moment.
Contributed by Rob Tucker
Will things ever be as they
I don’t understand why
you have allowed this to happen, Lord!
The fear, sadness, grief
and loss of hope.
My heart breaks with compassion
For those who are lonely,
Who have lost loved ones,
Who face financial insecurity
And who have missed out
On experiences that can never be re-lived.
Please bring this to an end soon, Lord!
Let us be reunited with those we love.
Let our children see their friends
And resume their education.
Let us feel safe to shake a stranger’s hand.
Let us sing together and worship you.
Let us be filled with new hope for tomorrow.
Will things ever be as they were before?
Whatever comes to pass,
Help me to “trust in the steadfast love of God for ever and ever”,
To know that you will not forsake us.
From Vicky Hughes
There is a place where there’s no Lockdown,
it is full of joy - nobody feels down.
No-one is anxious, in want, or ill,
everyone’s at peace, loved and fulfilled.
It’s a kingdom somewhere else, not on this earth,
and the only way in is through a spiritual birth.
You don’t need a visa and there is no fee,
Jesus shows the way, because He died for you and me.
We won’t know all its blessings till our lives come to an end,
but occasionally get glimpses, when Jesus is our Friend.
So take a leap of faith today, and see beyond Lockdown,
take the hand of the Saviour, who will never let you down!