“Holy Weeping” A Devotion for Lent

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”—Romans 12:15

One of the stranger symptoms resulting from the traumatic brain injury I got 17 years ago is my tendency to cry at odd times, such as while watching sappy jewelry commercials on TV or foolish pet videos on Facebook.

My hair-trigger weeping is the result of something called “emotional lability” and it is a little disconcerting for someone like me who comes from a family of fairly stoic stiff-upper-lip types. I call these unwanted tears my “silly weeping.”

But there is another kind of weeping I recognize as “holy weeping.” This is weeping for things that really matter: weeping in human solidarity with those who suffer; weeping in genuine grief, loss, or remorse; sometimes weeping in unalloyed joy.

I often weep quietly in church when I am deeply moved by a scripture, a piece of a hymn, or the truth of God’s love told well in a sermon.

St. Paul admonishes us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” and I think this is an important part of what a congregation is, a communal context for us to do our holy weeping together. We “weep with those who weep,” and I am convinced that in these holy moments God weeps with us.

Prayer: We know you won’t despise a broken heart, O God. Accept our holy tears as deep prayers of longing and hope for this world you love and for which Christ died.

(This is my United Church of Christ Daily Devotional for April 2, 2017. To see the original go here. To subscribe to the Daily Devotional and receive it every day by e-mail go here. For sermon on this same text and  topic go here.)

“Holy Weeping” A Sermon on Romans 12: 9 -18 and Revelation 21:1-4

CryOur two scripture readings today both speak about crying. The first reading speaks to the church on earth today, what I was taught as a child to call the church militant, and the second reading speaks to the church in heaven, what I was taught to call the church triumphant. Perhaps those terms are too martial for us today, but by whatever names it is the distinction between the church here and the church hereafter.

In the first reading Paul admonishes the Roman Christians on how to be the church now, and one of the things he tells them they need to do is to “rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.”

The second reading is from the Revelation of St John the Divine. I have a soft spot for the writings of St John the Divine, as I was baptized at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York, which is the world’s largest gothic cathedral (so I come by my high church inclinations honestly.)

In this beautiful passage from Revelation, St. John describes the holy city, the New Jerusalem at the end of time and history. He says then there will be no more crying there because God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

So in engaging these two texts about the here and the hereafter, I started thinking about the function of crying in our lives, and especially in the church. I did a little research on crying, and discovered that we don’t know all that much about it. There are several competing theories about why humans cry, including those theories of evolutionary biologists who think it may have some social function. Continue reading