"Sadness Reigns"



Needed: A Theology of Mourning

Lately I have been thinking about how theology seems to have no place for mourning, no theology of grief. It just isn't a theological option, not something that theology should deal with. Personally I think that we need a theology of mourning, a theology that makes grief holy, a theology that makes mourning both individual and collective. Along these lines I've been reading what I can find to help me speculate about a theology of mourning. Just in the past hour I came across this piece by Elle Berry, "America in Grief."

Berry writes, "The hardest part of mourning is that it requires us to admit that something went wrong. And while we claim to be a nation of personal accountability, we often refuse the accountability of looking inward. To mourn requires deep introspection. It requires that we vulnerably face our inability to control all outcomes. Furthermore, it seems clear from the Bible that these seasons are not experiences that God shields His people from—not even Jesus. Perhaps this is because mourning is a sacred work."

But how can we make mourning a "sacred work," when we have no theology of mourning, no theology that aptly shows us how God fully enters into our grief, how God grieves with us. Most of we have to say about God and grief is not much more than platitudes.

Berry continues, "Perhaps what is most disappointing is that the church in America has not been a leader in this work. The church should be the place most willing to look inward, and the place most willing to support each of us as we do the same. This is not always the case. We prefer to bounce from Christmas to Easter, forgetting that to have birth you must first labor, and to have resurrection you must face the crucifixion. Lament and mourning, blood and labor, are a sacred right in a world that is wounded. In this world the glory always comes by way of the mess."

"The way of the mess" is not something that most Christians care to acknowledge. It is certainly a theology that must be explored and speculated upon.

July 21, 2020

© Frank A. Mills 2020

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