I preached this sermon at Oakdale Park Church on October 6th, 2019 as a part of Abuse Awareness Sunday. It has been nearly two years after the #MeToo Movement, this sermon explores how we as a church must practice lament as we move from using power for ourselves to using our power with generosity, the way Jesus modeled and taught us.
Since the #MeToo movment happened, there have been a variety of other # moments as well. Notably, #ChurchToo also raised awareness that sexual abuse, assault and harassment happens in the church too. Further another hashtag illustrated that our silence on this topic is not spiritual: #SilenceIsNotSpiritual. Our silence regarding abuse speaks volumes, it can also be deafening.
The attached audio of this 30 minute sermon points us as the church to lament, and it concludes with the same litany of lament that was used at the Christian Reformed Church's 2019 Synod, which you can view here. Consider using the lament litany in your church worship services as well - it is also advisable to be sensitive to those who are survivors of abuse in your congregation. Let them know what to expect and that it could trigger a variety of emotions related to trauma events they may have experienced. It may be helpful to have people and resources available on site that could support those who have been victimized by abuse.
Genesis 9:18-28 tells the story of the events immediately after God's covenant with Noah after the flood. This story of the restart of humanity is not the most encouraging. It tells the following story:
- Noah abusing the vineyard's harvest of wine and proceeding to uncover himself;
- Ham seeing and telling and his brothers;
- Shem and Japheth, then covering Noah;
- then Noah cursing Ham and blessing Shem and Japheth.
If you would like to read more about this content without listening to the sermon, you can read this blog post, which was the first blog of five on the topic of the Abuse of Power, a partnership between the Office of Social Justice and Safe Church Ministry.
As mentioned in the audio of the sermon, we don't know exactly what happened or who is the most at fault in this situation found in Genesis 9. However, we do know that the actions that took place are not part of God's purposes for his creation. We are called to be people of generosity and a people of blessing. We are made able to do this through Jesus. This is also our greatest comfort in life and in death: to belong fully to Jesus, in body and soul, life and death, who has paid the price for our sin and has set us free. Jesus has reversed the curse and allowed us, by His spirit to be his body. We are not called to be people of curses, but we are called to be a blessing to all nations.
What would it look like if we lived lives in which our power is not our own? How are we to practice a ministry of listening, empathy, and shared power in our communities—especially with those of us who are survivors of abuse?
Please note that Genesis 9:18-28 has also been misused by some readers of scripture in the past to justify their abuse of power when enslaving fellow image bearer's of God. The synod of 2019 also denounced "kinism" as a heresy and a grievous sin (read about that here). Kinism teaches that the races should be kept separate in racially pure “religio-ethnic states,” supporting white supremacy. The misuse of Genesis 9 was also lamented in this sermon.