A Vignette of Penitence

“As far as I see it we have only this to confess: we are yes men.” Recently Worship in a New Key, a weekly alternative worship service that I cooridnate, hosted “WiNK Sings the Blues” a Lenten meditation focused on the experience of isolation  so well attested in the Psalms. We invited some local musicians to join us for Blues Sunday and used the music of Leonard Cohen, Led Zeppelin and Blind Willie Johnson to guide our meditation on the experience of anxiety common to our existential position. The service was organized around a series of “vignettes” which transformed the Reformed liturgy to a movement of word-and-song interactions.

Our head pastor, Jeff Vamos, wanted to incorporate a communal protest in the service—a cry against the things that promote our isolation. He asked the congregation to stand up and shout “NO.” I was, to be frank, skeptical. But there was something cathartic in that moment, something acknowledged and released that was (against all odds) powerful.

In that moment the congregation joined in protest but also in affirmation. A mighty “no” was spoken against those things that dwell in darkness. Yet with that “No” came the Divine Affirmation, the “Yes” of life as imagined in the upside-down Kingdom of God and manifested in the veiled cross of Christ.

I wrote the vignette of penitence and assurance that surrounded the “No”. I hope you’ll use it: Yes:No, A Vignette of Penitence.


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