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Remember. Lament. Grieve.

Jacob's Well

June 24, 2020

Liturgy of Lament

Welcome to this time of Liturgical Lament. We gather today in the traditional, unceded territories of the Coast Salish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam nations.

We gather at a time of global pandemic, and we will be taking every precaution to ensure that everyone is safe - we have handed out masks, are keeping physical distance, and will not be singing corporately. We will also be participating in communion but in a safe, prepared way. We pray for safety and heath tonight, for all our families, friends and communities, and for an end to the virus around the world.

We gather at a time of worldwide awakening to systemic, racial injustice. We mourn this injustice with the Black community in America, Canada and around the world, with people of colour everywhere, and with the Indigenous Peoples in Canada. And we commit to seeking justice together.

And we gather at a time when we have heard the most recent statistics for overdose deaths in British Columbia. In the month of May, 170 beloved children of God died from overdose, more than any other month in BC’s history, and more than three times the number of deaths from Covid-19 over the same period. These are the numbers that we know. This is added to the 118 overdose deaths in April, the 113 overdose deaths in March, the 76 overdose deaths in February, and the 77 overdose deaths in January. Thus far in 2020, 554 people have died of overdose in BC, that we know. The impact is of course far greater than the number of those deceased. Each person represents mourning family, friends, community. And there are many others who overdosed and were brought back from the brink of death. The emotional, physical, communal and spiritual toll is staggering.

Despite this, it is easy to overlook this tragedy. The opioid epidemic is not the newest calamity to grab our attention. It has become normalised and accepted. And it’s impact, in the minds of many, is relegated to an acceptable group of people - those who use drugs. These are people who have suffered in great degree over the time of quarantine, with services shut down, places of gathering closed, and increased drug toxicity added to already vulnerable and often unstable lives.

We do not accept that these are expendable lives. The loss of one life to overdose is a shattering loss to us all. The lives of each of these 170 in May, and the 955 in 2020, and the 981 in 2019, and so many before this are precious in the eyes and hearts of God, and in the eyes and hearts of those of us standing here.

And so, we gather to remember, to mark, to lament.

How Long? (Psalm 13 and 40) - Peter La Grand

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?

Sung refrain: “How long to sing this song….”

How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.

Sung refrain: “How long to sing this song…?”

Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

Sung refrain: “How long to sing this song…?”

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because He has been so good to me.

Sung refrain: “I will sing, sing a new song…

How long to sing this song…?”

Story - Jennifer Allan

By the Waters of Babylon - Peter La Grand

By the waters, the waters of Babylon

We lay down and wept, and wept, for thee Zion

We remember thee, remember thee, remember thee Zion

By the waters, the waters of Babylon

We lay down and wept, and wept, for thee Zion

We remember thee, remember thee, remember thee Zion

By the waters, the waters of Babylon

We lay down and wept, and wept, for thee Zion

We remember thee, remember thee, remember thee Zion

Leader: O Lord, have mercy on our families, our communities, our cities, our province, and bring healing!

People: Do not remember our former iniquities.

Leader: The blood of our children is being poured out on the streets through violence; through suffering; through unjust systems, through long-held internal pain, through unsafe drugs, through those who take advantage and profit off the suffering of others; through those who turn a blind eye to pain and sorrow.

People: Help us, O God of our salvation.

Leader: May justice and righteousness be honored again in our midst;

People: Let your compassion come speedily to meet us for we are brought very low.

Leader: Let the groans of those afflicted by drugs and despair come before you. We remember those who have died of overdose in our families, our communities, our city, our province.

People: We remember their names, and we speak them out now: (Prayers of the People, silent or spoken)

Leader: Deliver us and heal the wound of our sins, for your name’s sake.

People: For we have trusted in your steadfast love;

Leader: Our hearts shall rejoice in your salvation.

ALL: We will sing to the Lord, because he will show us mercy.

We Are Watching You - Jason Wood

I lift my eyes to you

O God, enthroned above

I keep looking to my God for mercy (repeat)

We are watching You (3x)

As a servant seeks her queen

We are watching you (3x)

As a slave waits for his king

To come

Have mercy, Lord, have mercy

We have had our fill

There’s only so much scoffing we can take (repeat)

To come

© Jason Wood 2017

Communion - Artisan

These Everlasting Ruins - Jason Wood (as communion is served)

Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins

This destruction that our enemies have wrought

When every edifice of certainty lies shattered

We are lost, O, we are lost

And our fears rule in the place where once we met You

Tearing through the very essence of our souls

Leaving nothing but a bitter desolation

In our bones, in our bones

We’ve been given no signs from God

All our prophets are dead and gone

None of us knows how long, how long

How long?

It was You who split the sea by Your power

It was You who crushed the monsters of the deep

Giving food to all the creatures of the desert

Such as we, O, such as we

We are haunted and oppressed by wrong

Don’t forget Your covenant so strong

Come and rescue us again, how long,

How long?

But You are our King

You are our King from long ago

You are our King

You are our King from long ago

You bring salvation (4x)

You bring salvation, how long?

You bring salvation, how long

’Til You bring salvation? How long?

Will You bring salvation?

You are the Voice that commands the tides and seasons

Yours the day, Yours also the night

By Your hand, You set the boundaries of creation

Would You set things right?

Rise up, Ruler, and defend Your cause

To our fleeting hearts attend, we call

We would praise You without end, but how long?

How long?

© Jason Wood 2020


“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Heb. 13:20-21)

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