Once in a while I am reminded that I am a bit of an anomaly among my fellow artists in that I love writing and presenting papers at conferences. I certainly don't have the empty space in my calendar to take papers on, but I do anyway. They are another form of creative challenge to me.
I've just completed a proposal for a conference at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa called, The Christian Evasion of Popular Culture. The deadline is May 1st so if you are interested, you better get going.
Also, this morning I received an email from the Transposition blog about a conference at Trinity Western University in Langely BC on Art and Ethics. The deadline for this one is June 15th so you've got a little more time with that one.
Several years ago I became enamored with the theology and ritual of Holy Saturday. I later led the liturgy for our old church community on Holy Saturday with this short homily. I hope you it provokes you to new thoughts and a deeper awareness.
We who are sitting here today have both the benefit of knowing history and the outcomes of this story:Good Friday brings Easter Sunday. And yet, because we know the story, we can never experience it again for the first time. But let me invite you to part company with your preconceived notions. Suppress your tendency to know what will happen. Try to hear the story with virgin ears not dimmed by your memory. And perhaps then we may glimpse a new reality of this dark day.Readings:
Old Testament Job 14.1-4
Psalm Psalm 130
Epistle 1 Peter 4.1-8
Gospel Matthew 27.57-66, John 19.38-42 (Blended)
Remembering our Journey Thus Far
We are here appropriately scattered and silent. We have come this far in this Holy Week to sit here in silent wonder…confusion…sadness…profound tension of life and death. We have journeyed with Jesus into Jerusalem where crowds have thrown their cloaks and branches as he passed by in triumph on a donkey. We have witnessed intimate moments among friends. We have dined with Christ and the apostles in the Last Supper. We have watched helplessly as Judas betrayed his friend. We have been witnesses at the trial. We have seen injustice. We have suffered the horror of seeing God incarnate hung on the cross.
And now, our Christ lies dead behind a great and immovable stone.And we wait in this the longest of days.
Themes Amidst the Void
Today is a day of tensions.
Our historical vantage point allows us to know of what comes tomorrow. But today we are in between…caught in the middle of sorrow and hope. Today is lived in the tension between the crucifixion and the resurrection…between despair and joy…between presence and absence…between the darkness of Friday and the light of Sunday…between the defeat of life and the victory over death…the end and a new beginning.
Today is a day of silence.
Today we sit in a no-mans land of scripture. With only few words of history. Our scriptures say little of this day. Only Matthew (26.62ff) shares that the priests and Pharisees visit Pilate on the morning of the Shabbat, asking to secure the grave. As scripture is silent on this day, we become silent. In this sparse day of words, we are left to contemplate and re-live the disorientation of the original followers.Scattered, they observed the Sabbath in utter confusion… weariness… and hopelessness. As Christ lays silent, dead in the tomb we sit in silence to consider our own impending death.
Today is a day to consider our mortality.
We live in a death denying culture. Even in death, the mortician tries to beautify the body. We go to the doctor, take vitamins and medication, eat right and exercise not just to be healthy, but to prolong life and delay death. We all dedicate significant mental and physical energy to postponing that final breath. But the truth is we are dying from the moment we are born. Death is not one final act but the final moment of a long process of dying. Today we are reminded of our finitude that we may, as the Epistle has told us to live the remainder of your days “not by human desires, but by the will of God.”
Today is a day of mourning.
It was for the faithful of that time a day of profound loss. Not just of a friend and rabbi, but failure of a communities Messianic dreams.Their hope for salvation crushed, hung out to dry on a cross, and now dead in a tomb. Regardless of how these men and women understood salvation and Jesus as the Messiah, those hopes had literally been killed. This is a day of mourning of the loss of a friend and shared dreams. Today the alter remains bare. Today there is no celebration of the Eucharist, for Christ is not present here.
Today is a day of rest.
The tendency of today is to rush in preparation for tomorrow.Groceries to buy. Meals to prepare. Homes to clean for family gatherings. Miles to travel. And yet, the heart of this day is the Jewish Sabbath. A day of rest. Today we are to see the connection to the first Sabbath…the Sabbath of creation. On the seventh day of creation God ordained a day of rest from the work of creation.Today, God incarnate rests in a tomb from the work of redemption.
Today is a day of waiting.
Again because we are caught in this tension of historical knowledge that this Jesus will rise, we must wait in this tension. I suspect that we are prone to jump all too quickly through this dark day. We don’t like to dwell too long on such topics. But to forget about this day in between the extremes of death and the resurrection is to miss a significant part of the original experience. What we transverse in a few moments of reading was played out historically over a good number of hours. In the course of only a few verses we move from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. To make our journey complete, we must not rush through this day. We cannot speed up the hours no matter how uncomfortable they may be. We must wait and pray like the disciples horribly suspended between Friday and Sunday.
Today is a day of hope.
As God rested from the work of first creation on the first Sabbath preparing for the for the eight day of creation and the first week; we are to see God Incarnate resting in the tomb from the work of redemption because tomorrow begins the first week of new creation…a new covenant. In the work of the cross we are to see an image of original creation.
Tomorrow, what was lost, will be reclaimed.
Tomorrow, the old will be made new.
Tomorrow, what was broken will be restored.
Tomorrow, those in exile will be welcomed home.
Yesterday’s end brings tomorrow’s new beginning.
And those amidst death, as we are, can hope for new life and resurrection because tomorrow we will see the death of death itself.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and so begins Lent. Growing up, I was quite unaware of Lenten exercises save that of the Catholics giving up meat on Friday's in exchange of fish. This made no sense to me and was simply explained as "something Catholics did."
This was not a satisfactory answer for my young mind. I continued to wonder why they did this. In my spiritual immaturity (have a become mature even know?) it seemed like a silly thing to do. Though I now see this was likely also colored heavily by my Protestant/Evangelical upbringing. In addition to fish, some gave up Coke, others ice cream, and so on with a list of dietary options. What I failed to understand then, as I wonder today if many still do, is that the practice of giving something up, is that you may fill your life with something else, focussed on the things of God. So, say trading TV between 7-9 pm for reading theology, scripture, praying, journalling etc. The Lenten exercises are to focus not exclusively on subtraction but upon addition (look at that...math talk from an artist!).
This year, as I have a number of times in the past, my Lenten addition is praying the hours as found in Phyllis Tickle's Eastertide. The hours include 4 prayers each day (morning, noon, early evening, and before bed). Tickle infuses the prayers with standard collects from the liturgy, lots of Psalms and Gospel readings. It is a good place to begin with prayer of the hours. These prayers are extracted from the larger 4 volume set that runs according to the seasons. I would highly recommend them all.
This study was a profound experience for me. So much more could and should be said about each Psalm that carries one of the accusatory questions. What started off as a musing on the aggressive prayers that Israel seemed to offer has become a provocative challenge to both covenant and Creator. This study has also cemented in my mind the need for lament in ecclesial communities. Without it, our liturgies lack a certain honesty about our selves and our world. We need to overcome the isolating tendencies of individualism on both the personal and ecclesial scale and rediscover our solidarity with a crumbling and disoriented world. Rediscovering our social reality is fundamental to rediscovering lament. When we do, we will find the need for such language again. Such a language will “help the church genuinely mourn the world’s enmity and pain, give a voice to the voiceless, and witness against injustice.” Lament offers the church a solid “rhetoric for prayer and reflection that befits these volatile times, a rhetoric that mourns loss, examines complicity in evil, cries for divine help, and sings and prays with hope. For indeed, what ultimately shapes lament is not the need of the creature to cry its woe, but the faithfulness of the God, who hears and acts.”
 Sally Brown & Patrick Miller, ed., “Introduction,” in Lament: Reclaiming Practices in Pulpit, Pew, and Public Square, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005), xix.
Today I want to look at Psalm 13 and 62.
Psalm 13 is striking because of the sheer repetition of the “How long?” question. The question is employed four times in the first two verses asking about God’s memory of the psalmist, God’s presence/absence, the Psalmist’s resulting sorrow from God’s absence and forgetfulness, and the proximity of the Psalmist’s enemies. In this psalm, we can clearly see Westermann’s three participants. Though the three are distinct, they are inseparable.
A polite reading suggests that the psalmist is asking for a time when life will return to the good. But if we peer closer and consider the lack of reference to sin or guilt again, we perceive an innocence on the part of the psalmist. Thus the blame is directed squarely at Yahweh for his state. The psalmist proceeds to hurl three petitionary imperatives Yahweh’s way in verse 3 to “consider,” “answer,” and “enlighten.” The psalmist also gives Yahweh a motivation, (or I will sleep the sleep of death) and the subsequent results of God’s continued inaction would result in the enemies triumphing over the Psalmist and ultimately of Yahweh’s self through his covenantal solidarity with the Psalmist.
While the psalmist bemoans his current state of physical and emotional turmoil, he can still find the strength in Yahweh’s previous actions with him to offer a hope that Yahweh will once again deal “bountifully with him.” There is no abandonment of God, but recalling God’s past actions, for the psalmist’s own faith strengthening benefit but for God’s apparent memory slip. This recollection before God, gives him a renewed vigor to wait until the reprieve comes in God’s saving actions. Mays notes that the Psalm is a direct address to God utilizing the “name that God has given the people for God as self-revelation...thus bestowing the possibility and promise of prayer.” Even in the address to God, the psalmist is being faithful to God’s previous actions, calls God to the same focus of faithfulness to their partnership.
Psalm 62 contains an interesting usage within the collection of questions. The psalm is an avowal of trust in Yahweh as the psalmist’s fortress despite the brutal warlike imagery of the enemies who besiege the walls of the city. “How long will you assail a person, will you batter your victim, all of you, as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?”
Here we see all three of Westermann’s participants present, but who is responsible for what? If we lift up the secondary implications, we begin to see that the same question may be indirectly addressed to Yahweh. In this suggestion, God would be implicated by his absence for what befell the individual. And yet, I wonder can the question be directed at God? God is the subject of the immediately preceding verses and not until after verse 3 are the enemies mentioned. If the question is directed primarily at God, God would seem to be culpable for what appeared to be a lapse of protection and forgetfulness of the covenant.
 James L. Mays, The Lord Reigns: A Theological Handbook to the Psalms, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 55.
 Craigie, 141.
 James L. Mays, Psalms, Interpretation, (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1989), 78.
 Marvin E. Tate, Psalms: 51-100, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 20. (Dallas: Word Books, 1990), 121.
 Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament, 319.
Have you ever looked at your bookshelf and imagined the the authors who penned all those glorious texts actually sitting on your shelf? I have. The next obvious question, at least to me, is who are they sitting next to? What kind of conversations would they have? For instance, what would the black liberation theologian James Cone and the conservative Baptist theologian Millard Erickson say to one another? Or what might transpire between Rudoph Otto and James Packer? Schliermacher and Bertrand Russell?
I suppose potential fireworks of such conversations might be somewhat determined by how you arrange your bookshelves. For me, it is topic by author. So in many ways, by arranging them topically they are already in some measure of communication. Another variable might be how diverse (methods, positions, chronological etc) your library is. If I were to arrange the total library alphabetically, there could make some great conversations between theology and the arts. But then again, I am really into eavesdropping on the Cone/Erickson debates.
Continuing on in the questioning of God in the Psalms, I hope to explore several individual Psalms. Psalm 6 seems like a good place to start.
Peter C. Craigie calls Psalm 6 a psalm of sickness that affects both body and soul. It is quite easy to imagine the state of the individual, near death, crying out to God for help and health. The question in vs. 3 says, “My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O Lord, how long?” This question, among others, is particularly evocative. The psalmist, “gasping as a stammerer” cannot even finish the question. It is a poetic portrayal of the psalmist desperation and critical state. However, Mays notes that this state of affliction is not “mutely accepted” but is opposed to it by saying, “‘Don’t…heal…turn…save,’ the prayer pleads, as though it were certain that God’s usual and preferred way with human beings favored health and life.” Such fear of death and discipline has brought the psalmist to plea his case.
We see the theme of the righteous sufferer emerge in verses one and two for the request not to rebuke or discipline the psalmist in God’s anger. From this perspective, we can see the underlying question of protest. If the psalmist is innocent, and there is no direct confession of sin in the psalm, then it seems to implicate Yahweh in his sickness. Craigie notes that the psalmist’s plea for deliverance in vs. 4-7, “Return, O LORD, save my life” is based on God’s “steadfast” or covenant love. Yet the underlying implication is that God has deserted him.
Within Psalm 6 is the profound role of memory that was noted in the beginning. Verse 5 states, “In death there is no remembrance of you.” The question functions liturgically where Israel’s memory of God’s past action brings about praise. But the re-enacting of human memory before God, also reminds God of his past actions and covenant. It is a reminding God to be God.
This psalm is also a fine example of Westermann’s three-fold typology of participants: Yahweh, humans, and enemies. Verse 8-10 introduces the enemies as the third participant. But in the course of the psalm, God has heard the plea and protest and come to the aid of the psalmist and thus vanquishing also his enemies. That which was offered in plea and protest successfully motivated Yahweh to act on his behalf.
 Peter C. Craigie, Psalms: 1-50, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 19, (Waco, TX: Word Books Publisher, 1983), 91.
 Artur Weiser, The Psalms, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1962), 130.
 Mays, 60.
 Weiser states, “The recognition of the psalmist’s sinfulness indeed forms the background of the psalm and is implied within it, but the actual confession of sin is entirely lacking” (Weiser, 130). Craigie also mentions the possible sin interpretation but prefers the “righteous sufferer” interpretation (Craigie, 92).
 Craigie, 92-93. This is one of the generalizing adjectives that became normative for Israel’s speech about who Yahweh was. See Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament, 213 and note 12.
 Craigie, 93.
Continuing on in this series:
Claus Westermann argues that there are typically three main participants in protests and laments: Israel, who speaks the protest and petition; Yahweh, who is being addressed; and often the enemy, whom Israel is seeking help against. Yet these forms appear with variations between the individual and corporately enacted psalms. Westermann has said that the individual is still never an “isolated individual standing alone” rather he is always in some relations to another. He builds on that saying, “prayer always has a communal or social aspect: a man is never alone with God…Here we see social relationship, in sharp contrast to any idea of an inner piety: living with God cannot be separated from living with others, the two belong together.” These are encouraging and needed words in our radically individualistic culture.
Westermann also points out that the three participants mirror a unified nature of humanity: theology (God), sociology (others), psychology (self). By way of example, if the psalmist is facing death, it is not as an isolated entity. He does so as a member of a community. But as the faithful one faces the realities of death, it leads them to ask “why” and question the nature or source of the suffering, and thus drawn to God.
The “how long” form is the second most frequent question of God, to the “why” question posed to and at Yahweh in an apparent long enduring of suffering. The “How long?” questions ask about the absence of God and are predominated with terms of anger. Within the communal lament, God is often portrayed as the direct or indirect cause of the current distress, often including clashes with the enemies. Westermann notes that these complaints against God “tread that thin line between reproach and judgment. But never do they condemn God, for the utterances are never objective statements.” And despite all the confusion and frustration the psalmist feels, they are never portrayed as abandoning God.
The psalmist’s suffering is the second participant in lament psalms and occupies a less significant role than the complaint against Yahweh, though the two are intimately bound together. The corporate lament is often tinged with both suffering and disgrace of the second participant. While a little more complicated in the lament of the individual, the causes of distress vary from physical and spiritual suffering, the immanence of death, and more general laments.
Complaints about the enemy, the third participant in laments, occur in both individual and corporate experiences. The enemy constitutes a basic component during times of war and is closely related to the corporate complaint against God. Often the accusation against the enemy contains two foci: a) what they have done to Yahweh’s people, and b) their slander and abuse. In the individual experiences of the enemy, statements often concern either an act of the enemy upon the lamenter (which are most frequent) or are statements about the nature of the enemy.
 Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms, 169, 174-194. See also Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament, 375. Also Philip S. Johnston seems to utilize Westermann’s 3-fold typology but renames them “agents of distress” in Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches, ed. David Firth & Johnston (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2005), 74-78.
 Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms, 170.
 Westermann, The Living Psalms, 70.
 Ibid., 70.
 Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms, 177.
 Johnston, in Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches, 74.
 Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms, 177. Does this mean they are just emotional eruptions? How seriously does God take them then?
 Ibid., 186.
 Ibid., 180.
 Ibid., 189-194.
The question, “How long” seems to function with two different, but interrelated, intentions. Israel’s questions were not abstract or generic musings, but were immersed in concrete life experiences. First and foremost, the queries are pleas from the rugged and overwhelming depths of human experience to the One whom they trusted could rectify their situation. And yet, they are not simply about receiving a time-table from God. While the questions are in one sense, an avowal of trust that Yahweh is good and faithful and will act on their behalf, experience and expectation do not always meet. Brueggemann states:
"Israel is profoundly aware of the incongruity between the core claims of covenantal faith and the lived experience of its life. Covenantal faith had dared to make the claim that the world is completely coherent under the rule of Yahweh, so that obedience leads to shalom. Israel’s lived experience, however, makes clear that an obedient life on occasion goes unrewarded or even suffers trouble in ways that should not have happened.”
Within this disparity, the questions function secondarily to probe Yahweh’s actions and various states of “hiddenness, ambiguity, instability, or negativity.” Israel’s position, which generates the plea, is also a near indictment of Yahweh’s lack of accountability and responsibility in their state, in contrast to that which was promised them. It is a critical comment on the covenantal relationship.
Israel’s interrogations seem to ask if their covenantal partner is faithful. Are Yahweh’s self-revelations in word and deed are ultimately correlative of Yahweh’s character? Israel, having accepted what Brueggemann terms the normative adjectives from Exodus 34.6-7 (merciful, gracious, slow to anger, steadfast love, abounds in faithfulness, forgiving) as central testimony about who Yahweh is, calls these very same things into question in their cross-examination of Yahweh. We begin to see that Israel’s questions are not only to Yahweh about their suffering state, but accusatorily at Yahweh for perceived infidelity to the covenant and Yahweh’s own self revelation and character. The seriousness of Israel’s petition to God is now escalated to confrontational levels in hopes to engage Yahweh.
It is proper to examine the question in other non-psalmic scripture to see if the dual functions follow. We see the question asked by both Yahweh and Joshua as a rebuke of Israel in Exodus 16.28; Numbers 14.11, 27; Joshua 18.3. Also, shows up in Moses attempt to aright Pharaoh in Exodus 10.3; as Eli censures Hannah in 1 Samuel 1.14; and in Job’s interactions with his critics in 8.2 and 18.2. Gerstenberger notes that all of these instances introduce “reproachful speech apparently after repeated efforts to amend the situation have failed...The undertone in all these passages is that a change is overdue.”
And yet it is the very serious state of crisis which propels Israel to approach Yahweh in simultaneous speech of hope and doubt of Yahweh’s true integrity. The laments and complaints speak both about the utter collapse of all poles of orientation and yet claim that Yahweh, though perhaps not hidden, is still in control. But then again, if Yahweh is in control, he is either explicitly or implicitly responsible for their misfortunes. It is an insistent and forceful hope where the crisis of doubt proves Israel’s faith. The lament structure itself seems to lead the speaker into, through, and out of the darkness. Thus Israel’s hopeful plea to Yahweh, out weighs the underlying critique. It is a hopeful appeal and provocation for Yahweh to remedy the unbearable situation on the basis of covenantal faithfulness and Yahweh’s own integrity.
 Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 378-9.
 Ibid., 318.
 Exodus 34.6-7 - The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.
 Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament, 213-14.
 I cannot help but to wonder if this is Israel’s attempt at manipulating Yahweh to action with the threat of maligning his character.
 Erhard S. Gerstenberger, Psalms: Part 1 With an Introduction to Cultic Poetry, Vol. XIV, The Forms of the Old Testament Literature, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 84.
 Brueggemann, Message of the Psalms, 54.
 Ibid., 54.
 There seems to be some debate over the categorization many of the Psalms. While lament is one of the main categories, Westermann suggests that the “appeal” to God represents the core of the lament psalm. Westermann chooses to retain the traditional wording, with this point having been made. Claus Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms, (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981), 33-34. While Brueggemann would like to make another subdivision or clarification, not on petition, but like more in line with provocation regarding the complaint nature of the psalms. He states, “It is important to note that these psalms are indeed voices of complaint or judicial protest, and not lamentations, as they are often called” (Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament, 374).
Several years ago, likely after the events of 9/11, I began to hear a call to renew or return to the language of lament within our worship. It was such a novel idea that I had no conception of what lament should look like within any shape of liturgy. But it was Don Saliers who first gave me the freedom to find such an expression and necessity in the language of our liturgies. This project has given me another opportunity to explore the language of lament and in particular the questions of complaint that the psalmist posed, not just to God, but at God.
Saliers thoughts are directed toward the shape and theology of our liturgies and how the language of lament forms an essential component of our worship. In his view, “Christian liturgy transforms and empowers when the vulnerability of human pathos is met by the ethos of God’s vulnerability in word and sacrament.” Truly authentic worship lifts up human reality, in all of its complexities and roughness to transformation by the Holy Spirit. Liturgy without lament would seem to ring false, becoming “anorexic, starving for honest emotional range.” And yet, it is so often left out or even suppressed from our worship language. Perhaps their omission is rooted in a fear of sinfulness, unfaith, or an overwrought politeness that these questions concerning the brutality of human experience in the light of God’s promised goodness and past actions, are rarely given full exploration. Simply put, “lament is seen as a negative way of speaking, unfitted for a prayer to God.” Unfortunately this has resulted in our ecclesial communities losing the language of lament, it may serve as a corrective for those that wish to withdraw from life as it really is, to pretense and romance in the unreal world of heavenly or holy things.”
What struck me was that we are so incredibly polite with God. At times, this is rightly so. But there is also a confidence that our faith brings, combined with out utter neediness that we may boldly approach God baring the ugly realities of all that is wrong to the only One who can set things aright. The psalmist’s testimonies left nothing out of their purview: praise and bitterness, hope and fear, life and death. And a good number of psalms emerging from this emotional gamut also contain brute and penetrating questions of Yahweh: Why? Where? How long? Saliers says that their laments (and these questions of complaint) are firmly rooted in the covenant, utilizing memory of the individual and community of God’s past actions. But more provocatively, they remind God of God’s own past actions. In other words, they remind God to be God.
These questions posed to and at Yahweh, emanate from the individual or communal nerve rubbed raw, furnishing an expression of Israel’s deepest needs and concerns in response to Yahweh’s personal invitation. Hans-Joachim Kraus speaks of the summons:
Yahweh himself calls to the men and women of Israel and invites them, ‘Seek ye my face’ (Ps. 27.8)… ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble’ (Ps. 50.15). The call and invitation are accompanied by God’s promises, ‘I will deliver you’ (Ps. 50.15); ‘Fear not, I will help you’ (Isa. 41.13). Yahweh’s word opens the way to petition and thanks. The one who comes to pray comes in the assurance of God’s help. Therefore the institutions of worship bare the sign of God’s accessibility.
But this “open way” and “accessibility” of Yahweh also opens the proverbial door to more than Israel’s petitions and thanks. At times, Israel takes advantage or opportunity of Yahweh’s accessibility and vulnerability in their intimate partnership, to question Yahweh in the disparate light of experience and covenant. This exchange clearly shows that “biblical faith, as it faces life fully, is uncompromisingly and unembarrassedly dialogic.”  Brueggemann contrasts Israel and Yahweh’s dialogical partnership with how “gingerly” this reciprocity is treated today in the church. He states,
"If we are dialogic at all, we think it must be polite and positive and filled only with gratitude. So little do our liturgies bring expression to our anger and hatred, our sense of betrayal and absurdity. But even more acutely, with our failure of nerve and our refusal to presume upon our partner in dialogue, we are seduced into nondialogical forms of faith, as though we were the only ones there; and so we settle for meditation and reflection."
Ultimately, our biblical example of Israel’s interactive expression with Yahweh is based in their intimate relationship which gives rise to profound questioning of Yahweh. The lament and complaint simultaneously give “witness to a robust form of faith that affirms that God seriously honors God’s part of the exchange” as well as, the worth of humanness and our experience. Human experience in a fallen world is sure to encounter that which seems unfair and disproportionately wrong. But these laments and complaints give free expression to that which is overwhelmingly incongruent and are not just petty or trivial whining about their condition. Israel saw within their respected relationship with Yahweh, the right to come before the Lord and make complaints and protests grounded in covenantal faithfulness. Israel refused the mute acceptance of their conditions as “God’s will” as so often found in our spiritual vocabularies today. Nor were these vigorous protests to Yahweh acts of unfaith, but vocalized uprisings of their freedom and responsibility.
 Don Saliers, Worship As Theology: Foretaste of Glory Divine, (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1994), 22.
 Ibid., 121.
 Claus Westermann, The Living Psalms, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 67. Westermann notes that since the middle ages and into the more recent times, “most people generally regarded suffering as a consequence of sin and a punishment for sin” (67).
 Walter Brueggemann, The Psalms and the Life of Faith, ed. Patrick D. Miller, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 67. Elsewhere Brueggemann says similar things, “It is my judgment that this action of the church is less an evangelical defiance guided by faith, and much more a frightened, numb denial and deception that does not what to acknowledge or experience the disorientation of life. The reason for such relentless affirmation of orientation seems to come, not from faith, but from wishful optimism of our culture.” (Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary, (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984), 51.
 Saliers, 35.
 Hans-Joachim Kraus, Theology of the Psalms, Translated by Keith Crim, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing, 1979), 141.
 Brueggemann, Psalms and the Life of Faith, 68.
 Ibid., 68.