Today you will be with me in Paradise [Retrieve Lament]

Jesus gave us a litany of last words as a Sufferer; we refer to them as the Seven Last Words of Christ. The deathbed words of the Suffering Servant provide a framework for the stories of lament we share here this Holy Week.

I count it a high privilege to know -- at least in a small part -- the writers of the mourning stories I'll be sharing here during Holy Week. Their lives walk the path of celebration, yes, but also suffering -- illness, relational disillusionment, anxiety, joblessness, the death of loved ones, and the death of dearly-held dreams. Their stories have helped form me in my understanding of suffering and I believe they could also encourage you too. 

Falling-Three Crucifixions  by Daniel Bonnell ( source )

Falling-Three Crucifixions by Daniel Bonnell (source)

And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’
— Luke 23:43 (ESV)

Each year during Holy Week I ask friends to share a "mourning story" from their own life as a way to help us see Christ in the midst of suffering.  Each story reflects on one phrase of Jesus' dying words. I didn't receive a contribution for this saying this year, but you can find two rich and meaningful posts from previous years.

In 2015 Annie Crawford, my a friend and worship leader from our church in Austin, shared the story of her relationship with her sister. She shares not only a story of deep relational suffering but also a stunning offer of life and hope. The same suffering-bourne grace offered to the dying, believing thief is strong and good enough to rescue us all. You can read her story of lament here.

In 2013 Shannon Coelho, a friend, fellow priest's wife, and mother to our godson shared her story of lament within the verses of a poem. The lines provide only sparse detail but invite us to imagine not only a story of deep relational suffering but also a fraying strand of hope. The same suffering-bourne grace offered to the dying, believing thief is strong enough to rescue us all. You can read her story of lament here.

You can see all the posts from previous years at the following links:

Retrieve Lament 2017

Les & Renee Aylesworth, Alicia Nichols, Natalie Murphy, Jen Thompson, and Rachel Spies

Retrieve Lament 2016

Nancy Linenschmidt, Cheryl Sellstrom, Allison Backous Troy, Brian Murphy, Shaun Fox, and from me, the mother.

Retrieve Lament 2015

Brian Murphy, Annie Crawford, Chris Pousseur, Les & Renee Aylesworth, Rachel Brown, Paul Van Allen

Retrieve Lament 2013-14

Kaley Ehret, Shannon Coelho, Haley Ballast, Brian Murphy, Nancy Gilmore Hill, Sharon O'Connor and a summary from me here.


Once, ritual lament would have been chanted; women would have been paid to beat their breasts and howl for you all night, when all is silent.
Where can we find such customs now? So many have long since disappeared or been disowned.
That’s what you had to come for: to retrieve the lament that we omitted.
— Ranier Maria Rilke, "Requiem For A Friend"

(See all of the Retrieve Lament stories from this year here.)