Hear my prayer, Lord;
let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.Psalm 201:1-2
Sooner or later as Christians we find ourselves sitting like the psalmist, overwhelmed, fearful and basically completely devoid of answers; it’s an uncomfortable place for the human ego to find itself. Now whilst our culture doesn’t require us to eat ashes (v9), nor do I believe in any way that God’s wrath is turned against us in any way at this present time (v10), I’m thankful that when I don’t have the words to say, am confused as to what to pray and overwhelmed with the prospect of over 20,000 deaths from this terrible virus, the Psalter gives me at least some of those words.
But what about my children? I was inspired by the recent CMS reshaping of their Lent devotions to include specifically lament for the time we find ourselves. I want to bring up my children to know that they can engage God with their emotions, weeping as Jesus wept, acknowledging that things are so often well outside of our control. I want them to find their own space to acknowledge that human life is fragile, something that in the west we are perhaps less well equipped to face. Most importantly, I want to equip them with the tools to deal with anguish, disappointment and grief with the faith that we have been gifted with. So for Palm Sunday I simply offer this for your children, and perhaps for you too.
Take a palm frond (or strip of paper), and craft a cross. Prepare three pieces of card, heading them Tears, Shouts and Trust. Light a candle, put on some quiet music and:
Read Psalm 102: 1-5 and then and ask them to write or draw on the card marked Tears what they are feeling about Coronavirus, what they have heard on TV, at school and whilst overhearing our more adult discussions!
Read Psalm 69 (probably 14-18) and on the card marked Shout ask them to draw or write what they are asking God for, in the midst of their emotions.
Read Psalm 121 or elements of Psalm 73 (23-26) and on the final card ask them to draw or write about what they are hoping for and their Trust in God.
Pin all three to the foot of your respective palm cross and then chat about each one, crafting prayers as you go, sharing each others tears, shouts and hope.
Now to Him who is able to do so much more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.Ephesians 3: 20-21