A Fresh Stream of Tears

“They buried the boy today.”
Hearing this phrase today during a service of prayer and intercession opened a fresh stream of tears.
On Tuesday, the roof collapse in a student center in L’Viv, Ukraine killed a Ukrainian student and a mission volunteer working on a remodeling project. The Global Ministries missionary, David Goran, suffered serious injuries and spent 36 hours in a local hospital without antibiotics or pain medicine before being airlifted to Munich, Germany to receive appropriate medical care.
You can read more this story in the official press release from Global Ministries by clicking here.
The questions and tears came and went periodically on Tuesday after I heard the news. I slept fitfully. Wednesday morning on the train I didn’t write in my journal – i didn’t know where to begin with all of the thoughts and questions. I cried under my sunglasses as I watched the video produced a few months ago about the faith journey of young adult who died on Tuesday. (You can watch his story here.)
I decided to read in an attempt to take a mental breath, yet Frederick Buechner has a way of extracting words from me when I least feel like writing.
Buechner talked of people traveling to hear preachers preach, and how all of them “carried [their] world on [their] back the way a snail carries his shell.” Preachers and people, with all of their joys, sorrows, celebrations, and disappointments, desiring to hear something. What?
At this point I started writing in the book – it is a mixture of commentary, thought, and prayer:

They traveled to hear a word. I can imagine them saying, “Speak to us. Tell us something, anything. Or, rather speak to us a Truth that makes sense in our time, our places, our circumstances, our milieux.” I wonder if that sounds similar to our words today. And I wonder if these words, ultimately, are directed to God rather than the preacher, “Speak to us a word of passion – a word of direction – a word of challenge – a word of hope. Speak to us so that we know we are not alone that we are not forgotten. Speak to us so that we know that You, God, have not forgotten us. Hosanna – Speak to Us. Hosanna – Help Us. Hosanna – Heal us. Maybe we should learn from Job and wait in silence. Maybe we should not heed the council of Job’s friends and demand answers. But silence is hard when we are lost, uncertain, or hurting. And so we long for answers.
God of Silence and God of Speech (the Psalmist’s “How Long” echoes in my head), Creating God whose very word calls forth life, Break your silence and Speak to us! speak to us, please. We can demand. We can beg. We can plead. We can simply ask. Speak to us. Give us a Word in this time.”

I imagine these may echo ancient Israel words to their prophets and to God – in Egypt, in Exile, in Palestine – longing for an answer; longing for God to deliver them and free them from their oppression, their bondage, their fear, their pain, and maybe even from themselves.

“…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… and the darkness could not comprehend it and the darkness could not overcome it…”

Christians believe that God has answered. Christians hope that God will continue to answer. God answers our cries with presence. As Christians, we are the body of Christ in this world. We can be God’s presence to those around us, and others can be God’s presence to us – God’s grace, love, hope, challenge, comfort, healing, and peace. Hosanna – speak to us. Hosanna – help us. Hosanna – heal us.
Alleluia.
Amen.

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