Seeds: Liturgy Resource Dec. 2 Narrative Lectionary

Habakkuk 1:1-7; 2:1-4; 3:3-6; 3:17-19 and Matthew 26:36-38

Optional Additional Text: Hebrews 11
with particular attention to the historical setting of Habakkuk 2:
the current time and the appointed time:
having faith for survival in this life v. Paul’s “have faith” for life eternal’
Further commentary on Habakkuk 1-2, some of which also include mention of chapter 3
Themes include
Resisting/protesting/lamenting oppression
Waiting on/believing in God
God promising (eventual) victory
2:3-it will not delay=אָחַר ʼâchar, aw-khar’; a primitive root; to loiter (i.e. be behind); by implication to procrastinate:—continue, defer, delay, hinder, be late (slack), stay (there), tarry (longer).
As my psychologist husband says, “Waiting is hard, but It’s part of growing up”—maybe for the church as well as for individuals! Two part statement: waiting is hard, and that waiting matures us (despite the immediacy encouraged by commercialism, esp in the context of Christmas…)
These readings also remind me of the story of a child telling his mother he was late home because his friend’s dog died. When his mother asked what he did, he said he sat with his friend to cry with him. So often we are either impatient with others when they are dealing with the tough stuff of life or we hear their pain too loudly and respond by wanting them to just stop crying instead of helping them cry/pray/protest/lament.
Materials below are related to the need to lament.
My worship prof at Emory, Don Saliers, was deeply committed to the need to lament as well as praise. See Don E. Saliers as the 2018 Rodney and Lorna Sawatsky Visiting Scholar. Don offered a public lecture titled, “Psalms in a Difficult Time: the Rhythms of Doxology and Lament,” on Thursday, February 15, 2018. From the journal Worship, also Don Saliers, about denying lament

Where are worshipers in Christian communities to go with their experiences and observations of violence, injustice, and other forms of suffering? Historically, a central source of realistic faith-based responses to tragedy has been the Psalter, broadly defined as a set of biblical psalms arranged by date to be individually and collectively read, sung, and prayed. Recent scholarship on psalms has focused on lament and complaint, and questions regarding the presence of trauma and violence in religious traditions have shown such psalms to be particularly relevant to contemporary culture.

This article (also by Saliers) examines three “psalms of lament,” Psalms 13, 42/43, and 88, discussing their implications for communal acts of worship, the development of critical theological skills in worshipers, and neglected dimensions of liturgical theological work. It argues that psalms of lament and protest, used liturgically, can enhance a congregation’s practices of truth telling, integrating life events with expressions of faith, and situating individual and communal experiences of suffering within the context of church history. Issues affecting the “performance practice” of liturgical psalms are also addressed, such as problematic content in imprecatory psalms (i.e., Psalm 137), discrepancies in the musical settings of lament and praise psalms, and styles of prayer and scripture engagement with or without the influence of lament psalms.

Another set of Lament materials is the online Material for lament from Lyrics of Lament: From Tragedy to Transformation by Nancy C. Lee, Ph.D. at
It includes Lamentation poetry
And recent contexts of lament: article: Graffiti artists in the Tunisian revolution
It gives website links for performances and texts of lament poems, songs and related information (most works referenced in Lyrics of Lament, according to chapters): Book Introduction; Chapter 1 From Dust to Dust—Common Ground: Suffering Is Universal; Chapter 2 Features of “Traditional” Lament across Cultures; Chapter 3 The Grounding of Lament in the Hebrew Bible; Chapter 4 Lament as Prayerful Plea in the Abrahamic Sacred Texts; Chapter 5 Lament, the Prophetic Vision, and Social Justice; Chapter 6 Laments of the People; Chapter 7 Developing Constructive Lament: Mourning and Nonviolent Justice; and Chapter 8 From Tragedy to Transformation.
The book itself can be previewed at
Psalms of Lament original psalms by Ann Weems is also available to preview at
Suggested related readings:
Psalm 119:137-144 provides an immediate response.  The readings and gather will slowly grow until the story of Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10.  The Habakkuk reading prepares the congregation to hear, “The Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost” – itself a wonderful introduction to the Invitation to the Great Thanksgiving, the Holy Eucharist.
The key words here (one word in Hebrew, moed) are “appointed time.” This word in Hebrew is used to designate festival times in Israel’s worship (Leviticus 23:2), a time of birth (Genesis 17:21; 18:14; 21:2), seasonal migration (Jeremiah 8:7), and, yes, the end time (Daniel 8:19).
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4,11-12 “Trouble and anguish” also pervade 2 Thessalonians, but here it is the “persecutions and afflictions” that thefaithful suffer through while waiting for the imminent return of Jesus. But here, the suffering has a direct purpose: “to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.”

The first section “how long, O Lord” stands in a tradition of other complaint passages in the Hebrew Scriptures. Here are some examples:
Pss. 13:1-2
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Psalm 62:3
3 How long will you assail a person,
will you batter your victim, all of you,
as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?

Job 19:2
2 “How long will you torment me,
and break me in pieces with words?

These are right out of this text, though some of the verses/words are archaic
I was going to play with updating the words for this (last) one, but the meter is and none of the hymnary tunes are familiar to me—even the one that appeared in 96 hymnals!
Here’s another archaic/right out of the text one:
Advent hymns that have themes that overlap the above (themes of waiting, darkness/time arriving) People, Look East, The time is near Themes of waiting/time arriving (Slaughter of the Innocents). See also

Non-seasonal hymns

Communal psalms of lament may also be helpful in finding hymns; try these in your hymnal index:
Psalm 44
Psalm 60
Psalm 74
Psalm 79
Psalm 80
Psalm 85
Psalm 90
Saliers’ work (cited above) adds Psalm 13, 88 and 137; Psalm 18 talks about hinds’ feet in high places.

Author: katyandtheword

Pastor Katy has enjoyed ministry at New Covenant since 2010, where the church has solidified its community focus. Prior to that she studied both Theology and Christian Formation at Princeton Theological Seminary. She also served as an Assistant Chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and as the Christian Educational Coordinator at Bethany Presbyterian at Bloomfield, NJ. She is an writer and is published in Enfleshed, Sermonsuite, Presbyterian's today and Outlook. She writes prayers, liturgy, poems and public theology and is pursuing her doctorate in ministry in Creative Write and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She enjoys working within and connecting to the community, is known to laugh a lot during service, and tells as many stories as possible. Pastor Katy loves reading Science Fiction and Fantasy, theater, arts and crafts, music, playing with children and sunshine, and continues to try to be as (w)holistically Christian as possible. "Publisher after publisher turned down A Wrinkle in Time," L'Engle wrote, "because it deals overtly with the problem of evil, and it was too difficult for children, and was it a children's or an adult's book, anyhow?" The next year it won the prestigious John Newbery Medal. Tolkien states in the foreword to The Lord of the Rings that he disliked allegories and that the story was not one.[66] Instead he preferred what he termed "applicability", the freedom of the reader to interpret the work in the light of his or her own life and times.

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