I’m angry. I am angry that my daughter, who is starting ninth grade today, which in the U.S. marks the move to high school, is doing so from the desk in her bedroom. I’m angry that we as a country couldn’t do what was necessary to make a safe return to school possible for many of our students and teachers.
Truth be told, that isn’t the only thing I’m angry about, and in the scheme of world events it’s not that significant. The world we inhabit at this moment is full of anger. Anger at the “other” who doesn’t share our political position or worldview. Anger at Hong Kong police attacking a twelve-year-old girl and ongoing anger over broken promises. Anger that a sixteen-year-old boy in South Africa was caught in crossfire and killed while eating a biscuit at his kitchen table. Anger over vote rigging in Belarus. Anger that the opioid epidemic is worsening in Canada and getting so little attention. Anger at injustices shown to indigenous people groups and people of color. Even the creation seems to be angry, with raging fires, swarms of locusts, hurricanes, derechos, and drought.
I’d like to think that by the time you read this all will be solved—my daughter physically in school; democracy returned to Hong Kong; indigenous people groups fully recognized, with progress towards restitution and reconciliation for all who have suffered from systemic racism. Creation at rest. But my guess is that many of these situations will remain, and so will the anger and grief.
In the midst of all of this I was blessed by the content of this issue, and I hope you will be blessed by reading it. Even if you don’t use the worship services for congregational worship, use them for your personal devotional time. Read the prayers provided in the services. Spend time reflecting on the texts of songs; click on the links in the digital edition to listen to them. Spend time with Scott Hoezee’s reflection (p. 18). Use the images of the slain lamb (p. 27) and Hans Holbein’s “The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb” (p. 33) to reflect on how Christ took on this world’s righteous anger, its laments, its pain, and its sin, how he suffered, died, and descended to the dead so that we might be saved—that we might have hope. I also encourage you to read about the importance of joy and praise in Latino worship even amid struggles (p. 43).
Finally—or maybe first—read John Witvliet’s response to a question about the place of anger in worship
(p. 35). Today especially, I needed the reminder that “some psalms of protest and anger are notable not simply because they express anger or disappointment but because they do not simply express anger or disappointment, but relinquish it, entrusting the pain or source of bitterness to God” (p. 35). Let us continue to lament and turn our anger over to God, and then ask God how God wants to use us to bring about shalom.