Learning to LamENT in the Asian-American Church Today


Our start to Lent today was raw, open, bared, and painful. We began a “community lament” that exposed the underbelly of life in a way that doesn’t happen often in Asian-American contexts, certainly not among the 2nd generation, where success, keeping up appearances, making good impressions hold sway. But as I invited people up the center aisle to write down their complaints, bitter complaints, raw emotions, even to cuss on paper if necessary, some of the most raw things came out on paper that reveal how broken we 2nd gen Asian-American church folk really are, how real we are beyond the accomplishments and the front we often put up of well-groomed “successful” living.

How difficult it must be, in Asian-American churches where so often the social order is to stuff down deep inside the brokenness, the woundedness, the lament of the soul, when actually one of the purposes and ministry of the church is to assist us in learning and acquiring the language of Lament; on the fly that thought came to me in my talk today that our tendency to try to “fix” things and move beyond them actually keeps us emotionally stunted, that indeed many of our problems simply cannot be solved instantly anyway, and they cannot be made to go away immediately, and  therefore we have no other choice but to sit in the messy middle, acquiring the language – learning LAMENTations.

Our African-American brothers and sisters are still in touch w/ lament I believe, in ways that are generationally transcendent. But why do we 2nd gen Asian-Am’s leave so quickly from the culture of lament to one of success and triumphalism? Is that right? Never mind, I think not.

So for the next 40, it’s time to do some catch up. We’ve been stuffing down so much junk now is the time to release some of the pressure (valve) and to voice our complaint, our pain, because I think – no – I’ve read it today – we are carrying a lot of baggage, a lot of hurt. We are a quietly suffering lot, and it is only making the wound deeper.

God help us.

May we not heal the wound of the daughter of our people lightly.

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

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