Lamentations for Today

This is a collection of laments I wrote for a worship service I led with a friend in my church. Modern worship is a bit too positive sometimes, but biblical worship makes room for disappointment, frustration, and mourning. Modern worship usually praises the singer as much as the Sung To, while these laments—written topically for those things that get us down —remind us that He’s God, we’re not, and that’s okay. Really, it’s okay. Even when it totally is not okay, it’s still okay. Or it’s going to be. The ship may totally go down with all of us on it, but it will still be okay. Okay?

ABUSE OF POWER
When those enthroned usurp
Sanctity from those in their care
And when the lowly seek status
In yet more enthroning –
Lord, have mercy on us.

THE AGE OF DISTRACTION
When deep-rooted wisdom is pruned by short-cutted data,
When the senses are dulled by the sensual,
When Creation is blurred by the created
And the created grow bored with Creation –
Lord, have mercy on us.

UNRESOLVED HOPE / UNANSWERED PRAYER
When we listen in chambers of silence,
When we search through tunnels that grow,
When we hope against nature, believe against science,
And stand firm in the face of a daunting approach –
Lord, have mercy on us.

BREVITY OF LIFE
When we count our days like apples
Dropping from the brittle branches of drought,
When a child goes with more unrealized tomorrows
Than remembered yesterdays,
When our bodies no longer carry or recall
Or agree to nourish our weight –
Lord, have mercy on us.

LACK OF PROVISION
When the cupboards we maintenance
Are as bare as brand new,
When the fields we tend
Yield nothing or less,
When a paycheck is the substance
Of things hoped and unheld –
Lord, have mercy on us.

APATHY
When I simply cannot be asked,
When tragedy holds harmony with gossip,
When I prefer screens to windows, sleek skin to whole hearts,
Pabst Blue Ribbon and pumpkin spice
To pouring out spirit or providing sanctuary,
When the nation, the state, the city, my people
Can all go blank-verb themselves –
Lord, have mercy on us.

IN ANXIETY / DESPAIR / DEPRESSION
When sleep beyond rest,
When obscurity be my bed,
When the locust devours my ties to the truth
And when I open the window for his return –
Lord, have mercy on us.

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A Castle On a Hill: an Interview with Jacob Stock

For several years now, Jacob and Melissa Stock have been running a delightful, slightly otherworldly retreat center in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. The architectural centerpiece of this place is the Stocks’ house, which is a castle. No, really. They also have a love for the Oxford Inklings, creative community in general, and for the Church at large. Jacob was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions. We’re excited to introduce you to the work of Castle Ministries.

Foundling House: It’s obvious that, somewhere along the way, you discovered this need to get away from the busy-ness of daily life for a season. What’s the story behind that?

Jacob Stock: My wife and I discussed TV when we first got married and decided to watch one show a week. We eventually gave up on even that, because of content really. So after a year with no TV and maybe four to six movies, we just experienced such a relief and peace from not being inundated by the world. It was through this—and maybe a trip to Canada—that we stumbled into an experience that we wanted to try to encourage, even if for a week or a weekend. It is hard to step away from what I now call the “noise”—noise being all things that grab for our attention and rush at us.

FH: At the heart of Castle Ministries, it should be noted: there is a castle. Tell us about this place.

JS: It is really a house with stone siding and a tower. The hope was to have an icon or marketing tool, but also to mimic more of a monastery with simple beauty. It would just be harder to convince folks to go away to the monastery with all the connotations that involves. We have simply used the building to express a desire to be different, to come away from the normal.  And kids love it, so I do gain campers as a result of its slick market appeal. We are not a very high end venue, so it is humble and all that we do is geared to be accessible to most demographic and economic levels. Beauty and Goodness are high values we place on space and quite a lost art in my opinion. Art and Architecture had such an effect on past generations of the church, and this is in some way a connection can be made to that old tradition.

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The Other Endgame

First things first: spoiler alert. This is going to get messy, because I got messy.

I got the last good seat at the 9:30 showing of Avengers: Endgame—the only seat left from which I wouldn’t have to crane my neck at an obtuse angle. I shuffled in to the row, which was mostly empty at that point, except for the dating couple next to my seat. I apologized before plopping down beside the lady, which made the moment more awkward than it would have been anyway. A little while later, a large man and his young son scooted past us and sat next to me. These were to be my companions for the journey. We had come for entertainment, yes, but also for closure. After twenty-one films of waiting for post-credits questions, we demanded answers.

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Abby Wheeler, Creator of Heartworks

Heartworks is a brand new, up-and-coming organization dedicated to serving the refugee and resettled population in Knoxville through art therapy classes, painting lessons, conversation, and relationships. Abby Wheeler is currently working closely with Knoxville Internationals Network.

ADAM WHIPPLE: So tell me how you got started. What was the impetus behind creating Heartworks?

ABBY WHEELER: Well, I have wanted to be a missionary since I was six years old. I went to college for intercultural studies at Johnson, and I met my husband, Matt. He has Crohn’s disease, so he cannot live overseas, because he gets infusions every six weeks. It’s like a $20,000 medicine every six weeks, if we didn’t have insurance…

ADAM: Yeah, and if you’re overseas, you’re dealing with whatever their government feels like healthcare should look like.

ABBY: Exactly, and just exposure to different things. So I thought, ‘Now I have no idea what I want to do,’ since this is literally since I was six years old. So, Kenny [Woodhull] was my professor at Johnson, and he helped me kind of explore what’s at the heart of my dream. I discovered that I really just wanted people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, especially Middle-Eastern refugees, to experience healing and wholeness. And with my personal experience with art, I thought it was a great way to promote healing and wholeness.

ADAM: Is that where you wanted to go?

ABBY: Yeah, I went to Jordan for a summer, and I loved it. And then, I grew up taking art lessons since I was in third grade. All growing up it was my safe space.

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Pieces Go Missing

Screenshot from the video for “Snow” by Sleeping at Last

The day before December began, my grandma slipped into eternity. She’d spent 100 years here on this globe, and was ready to see her Jesus face to face—and for that we are filled with joy. But we will feel the lack of her. We will miss her guidance, her prayers for us, her love.

The next day marked the anniversary of an accident seven years ago that took a beloved friend and mentor from this earth. It was the start of a hard Christmas season. One where tears held their own against joy and laughter.

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Holy Secret

The old man is snoring again.
It’s the only sound that escapes his lips
these days. So she lies awake listening,
wishing she could rouse him and talk
about what they’ve seen.

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