Advent Adult Formation – The Book of Psalms and the Need to Complain

Now is a time for complaint. Our world remains in the grip of a pandemic, and all of our lives are deeply effected. One of the great graces of scripture is that it welcomes complaint. It’s full of people who are pleading with God, expressing heartfelt anguish and loss, shouting their frustration at the disruption of their world, and begging for solace. Particular books within the Bible are especially aligned to complaint, and the Book of Psalms is the foremost example. Walter Brueggemann writes that

“most of the Psalms can only be appropriately prayed by people who are living at the edge of their lives, sensitive to the raw hurts, the primitive passions, and the naive elations that are at the bottom of our life. For most of us, liturgical or devotional entry into the Psalms requires a real change of pace. It asks us to depart from the closely managed world of public survival, to move into the open, frightening, healing world of speech with the Holy One.

Praying the Psalms, p. 15

In order to accept the current disruption to our world and find healing in God, we need to be honest about our situation and not try to shield each other from our complaint. So when we gather to study the psalms together this Advent, we will not only be learning about their history, theology, and place in our liturgy. We will also, and more importantly, be using them as a portal for speaking honestly and freely about our own experience, and for offering our own complaints. Offering them, while staying aware that after periods of disorientation and suffering come periods of reorientation and surprising, joyful newness. So if our experience is of newness and joy, we will speak to that, too.

So come learn, share, and complain with us during our four-week study of the Book of Psalms. The study will run for three of the four Thursdays in Advent (the last Thursday is Christmas Eve), starting December 3rd. We will meet on Zoom from 7:00-8:00 PM. You can join by following this link:

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