Tuesday, May 12, 2015

There is Crying in Worship

   In A League of Their Own, a movie released in 1992, Tom Hanks played a washed-up, former baseball player turned manager of the all-women’s baseball league formed during the Second World War when the men were overseas in combat. His character, named Jimmy Dugan, struggles with alcoholism, anger, and being nice. At one point in the story, he yells at one of his players,

Jimmy Dugan: “Are you crying? Are you crying? Are you crying? There’s no crying! There’s no crying in baseball!”

I will not speak to that, having seen plenty of crying in little league, but the quote came to my mind on Sunday morning during worship. On more than one occasion my gaze rested on another set of teary eyes out in the pews. During one of the songs, I reflected on how appropriate it is to cry in worship.
   The Mother’s Day inserts, especially the two pages dedicated to Memorials, were filled with names of our cherished loved ones. Names of those who’ve passed in the past year especially brought emotions, as we remembered their physical presence among us just a short time ago and then the UMW recognition of Jean and Matilda, both gone too soon. I believe that worship, and the congregation of the faithful, is exactly where tears should be found. I believe there is supposed to be crying in worship. I think the Bible upholds this, too. Of course, we know Jesus wept at the death of his friend, Lazarus, but there are promises about God’s response to our mourning, too.  

Psalm 34:17 - When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues 
                       them from all their troubles.
Psalm 3:4 - I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill.

   I am not suggesting that we should cry every week, but it is okay to cry. It is probably necessary, sometimes. Life is hard. It is hard to lose someone we care about. Loss is hard. We also come to learn that gaining something is hard, as well. The ups and downs of life, the blessings and curses, all of it calls for vulnerability, submission, and faith in God’s ultimate goodness for us. Life is heavenly and hard, and worship is a place where these truths are proclaimed. 
   Later in the movie, having grown some himself, Tom Hanks’ character offers this wisdom to one of the girls who is thinking about quitting: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great.” Grace and Peace, Scott

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