October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, as part of our Sacred Safe Spaces initiative, we are encouraging pastors to help raise awareness of this issue in a Sermon. To help with this endeavor I have listed some suggested texts, topics, and a Litany of Non-Violence.
Note: Originally written Monday April 2nd 2012 following Palm Sunday when I preached at First Baptist S. Plainfield to become Interim Pastor
It is not enemies who taunt me— I could bear that; it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me— I could hide from them. But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend, with whom I kept pleasant company; we walked in the house of God with the throng. -Psalm 55:12-14 NRSVYesterday, Palm Sunday morning, as I sat in the pulpit preparing to preach we reached the point in the service for intercessory prayer. I was taken aback by one of the requests. In reading the prayer slip aloud I was reminded of the violations that continue to go on in houses around the world every day. Prayer was being asked for a family whose wife was killed by her husband. It is no secret that I have done and do a lot of work in the field of Violence Against Women and Children, especially in the church. However, I must admit I was not expecting this, in fact before reading it aloud, I whispered, “My God!”
In reflecting on this now I cannot help wondering how many victims of Intimate Partner Violence (inclusive of domestic violence and sexual assault) have murmured these same words, “My God!” I contemplate deeply, if as they were placed on these crosses of despair if like Christ, they asked why they were forsaken? Or how many times they prayed for “this cup” to pass from them? These are relevant questions for any victim or survivor of violence. Yet, as my mind pondered longer, deeper on this issue I was led to Psalm 55:12-14. The betrayal is not by God, it is not the Lord who puts victims/survivors on the cross but those who profess to love them! Husbands, boyfriends, wives, girlfriends, (yes I acknowledge, women too abuse), kinfolk, and I can never forget society with its laws, policies - us with our silence!
Yes, this truth reawakened me the first day of April, and unfortunately it was not a cruel joke, no one screamed “April Fools,” sadly it was a family’s reality. She sleeps eternally not by the hand of an enemy or adversary, but by the hand of “[her] equal, [her] companion, [her] familiar friend, with whom [she] kept pleasant company; who [together they] walked in the house of God with the throng.” So for Mrs. Lo and all the others I submit this simple prayer:
Loving and merciful God teach us your children to love like you do. Transform us again into your image. The image that once made you proudly say, we, your creation are “very good.” Please hold every soul that is hemorrhaging from victimization letting them know as virtue has left their bodies from the pain, it has left yours also. Never are they forgotten or forsaken! May they come to know your touch, that healing touch that can stop the bleeding. You say in your Word that while we walk through the valleys and shadows of death we shall to fear no evil, yet Lord I voice the fear, the fear birthed from the possibility of death brought on not by strangers or adversaries but those we love. You also say in your Word that you will restore our souls. So, Precious God I ask that the souls of every victim/survivor be restored in you, through you and by you! I ask Precious God that you cradle the souls of families who have lost loved ones to violence and that along with us you shed tears for the silenced souls – those who have succumb to violence as you did for Lazarus, letting them know for every tear they cried you wept also. Those who are gone are not forgotten, death has not won, you will remove the stone and although they now sleep, they shall be resurrected. Lastly, Lord I pray over for those who abuse, although it is hard, you command us to pray for our enemies. May you restore their souls by your Word. Humble them to acknowledge their wrongs, restore them to know love through you, aid them in truly understanding love is kind, patient, not jealous… aid them in grasping that no one ever hated their own body, but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church. This is how we are to treat one another, love as we love ourselves, care for others as we care for our own bodies. Help us all Mighty God to feed and care for each other the way you do the church. Yes, restore us Lord to your likeness, restore us to know how to love in healthy ways, help us to foster healing to the broken and to extend grace as grace it has been extended to us.
In Your Precious Name, Amen.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
If you or someone you know needs help please do not hesitate to contact me via email using the form below or at the region office (609) 587-8700. If you are in immediate danger please call the Police. If you are uncomfortable being identified please use any other these 24 HOUR numbers for help, they will connect you to assistance in your area. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or The National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Email Rev. Davis
[contact-form firstname.lastname@example.org' subject='A National Domestic Awareness Month Inquiry from ABCNJ.net'][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]Above photo is by Justin Henry (http://www.flickr.com/photos/72794895@N00/1547734576), photo used by permission via Creative Commons.