Life after Brokenness: A Liturgical Portrait of Suffering and Hope

Armand Leon Van Ommen* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Suffering and evil inevitably evoke questions about religion.1 One way of responding has been to struggle with the problem of theodicy: How can people believe in an all-powerful and all-loving God in the face of suffering? Another answer that the Christian tradition has given is that suffering is somehow redemptive or at some otherwise fundamental level good. This article contributes to the discussion by taking the perspective of liturgy, as the focal point of the worshiping community.2 To put the question sharply: How does worship on (typically) Sunday morning make sense of yesterday’s tsunami, earthquake, terrorist attack, sickness, death, or other suffering, personal or communal? In the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic and, at the time of writing, the strict lockdown in many countries, how does liturgy address the loss and grief resulting from the pandemic? To focus the discussion and thus be able to go into analytical depth, I will present an analysis of one particular liturgy, in this case the Scottish Liturgy 1982 of the Scottish Episcopal Church.3 As the article will show, the liturgical analysis of suffering helps to reframe the question of suffering and human flourishing.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 May 2020

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