survivors.


Many have asked for the transcripts of this worship service, so I share them here with permission from the authors. You are very welcome to use these pieces in ways that honor survivors of sexual violence, giving credit to the authors. 

Music included Holden Evening Prayer by Marty Haugen and several healing hymns. Special thanks to the dozens of leaders who helped make this worship experience a daring and sacred witness to God's fierce and gentle love.



CALL TO WORSHIP: "I HEAR YOUR STORY" (ANDREA SORUM)     

WELCOME
The worship leaders introduced themselves. We explained that participation is not mandatory in this service, so be involved in ways that feel right for you. A chapel space is available if you prefer to be nearby, but not inside the Sanctuary. We all silenced our phones and added a new contact: RAINN, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (800) 656-HOPE. It’s always a good time to call, even if it means stepping out during this service tonight. We announced the freewill offering would benefit the Survivors' Memorial on Boom Island in Minneapolis. Visit www.survivorsmemorial.org to donate online or learn more.

CONFESSION (REV. META HERRICK CARLSON) 
We often begin Christian worship with a leader up front who invites the assembly to confess their sins before God and neighbor. The idea is that we cannot sing and pray and hear the word with honest hearts until we have told the truth about what brings us here. And that’s a beautiful thing.

But tonight, confession looks a little different. It is the leaders, the church, who offer a confession to you, the assembly and to God. If you are a clergyperson and you’d like to join us in this confession, I invite you to come forward at this time. And if you are a clergyperson who needs to receive an apology more than you need to give one tonight, I encourage you to stay where you are with our gratitude and love. 

We have declared the importance of confession week after week for thousands of years…and yet our institution, our “Big C” Church, has not modeled confession very well. So this is one attempt to practice corporate apology on behalf of the Church.

Clergy will respond to each petition by saying, “We are truly sorry and humbly repent.”

We confess, on behalf of the whole Christian church, 
that we have taught human sexuality in ways that have promoted 
shame and embarrassment instead of power and beauty.
We are truly sorry and humbly repent.

We confess, on behalf of the whole Christian church, 
that we have misused the gospel of Jesus 
to decimate cultures and languages around the world, 
and to condone oppression, racism, and misogyny for generations. 
We are truly sorry and humbly repent. 

We confess, on behalf of the whole Christian church, 
that we have pitted the fullness and mystery of God’s creative image 
against its own self.
We are truly sorry and humbly repent.

We confess, on behalf of the whole Christian church, 
that we have too often described the feminine helper in Genesis 
as a foolish temptress and less than equal.
We are truly sorry and humbly repent.

We confess, on behalf of the whole Christian church, 
the limitations of our lectionaries, and the insufficient time we spend 
with women and their stories in worship.
We are truly sorry and humbly repent.

We confess, on behalf of the whole Christian church,
the purity culture that narrows and simplifies the virtue 
of women, girls and femmes to their chastity. 
We are truly sorry and humbly repent.

We confess, on behalf of the whole Christian church, 
that our systems have been complicit in protecting predators 
in churches and communities.
We are truly sorry and humbly repent.

We confess, on behalf of the whole Christian church, 
that we have kept silent when oppressed people 
have asked the Body of Christ to say something with compassion 
and to do something with our power.
We are truly sorry and humbly repent.

We confess, on behalf of the whole Christian church, 
that some of our history, our theology, and our leadership 
has caused people on the margins pain and suffering, 
that we have chosen the status quo of our systems 
over God’s beloved ones.
We are truly sorry and humbly repent.

For these things and many more, we are truly sorry and humbly repent. 
May the Church repent more boldly in these days, 
daring to practice what we preach, 
embodying humility in a proud and aching world, 
learning to trust that grace might be real for us, too. Amen.

"DINAH" (REV. META HERRICK CARLSON)
There is a woman named Dinah
buried in the patriarchy of Genesis.

Dinah’s personhood is barely described before 
she is raped
and we never get to hear her brave voice. 
Instead, father and brothers and tradition rise up 
to throw punches and shout for their own honor.
She disappears into their self-important violence -
the audacity of more violence!  

But while they brawl, 
God abides with Dinah.
Heaven believes her story 
even before she tells it   
whispering love that is balm on her body.  
The Spirit stands ready
and will wade through Sheol by her side.

Genesis does not document this mystery 
but the women in the region know. 
Dinah was on her way to visit them when 
that prince attacked her sovereign life.

The women can be trusted with her pain.
They wait on all of Dinah’s strength and truth.
They will seek the justice she needs.

So break the silence when you are good and ready.
Tell heaven what she already knows. 
Speak what God has already beared.
Release the weight of shame that is not yours to carry.

We are listening to your brave voice, daughter of Dinah.
And we hear it within the fullness of who you are.

TIME FOR CHILDREN (REV. ANDREA ROSKE-METCALFE)
There’s a story in the Bible called the Book of Ruth, and I want to share part of it with you tonight. In this story, Ruth has moved to a new place, where she has never lived before, and she only knows one person, named Naomi. Ruth and Naomi are all alone, and they don’t have any money to buy food.

So Ruth does a brave thing – she goes to the fields during the harvest, and she walks behind the workers who are picking the grain, and she picks up the pieces they drop, so that she and Naomi will have something to eat. She has never done this before, and doing new things can be scary, but remember that being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared, it just means you try a new thing anyway.

This field belonged to a man named Boaz, and it turns out that Ruth and Boaz were actually part of the same family, even though they had never met! Can you believe that? 

They had something else in common, too. Ruth and Boaz knew that everyone should be in charge of their own bodies, and that no one should ever touch them in a way that made them uncomfortable or do anything to their bodies that they didn’t want. That’s pretty important, right? Do you know these things, too, just like Ruth and Boaz?

*nodding*

Friends, can you tell me if it’s okay for someone to touch you in a way that makes you uncomfortable? Is that every okay?

“No…”

What?

“NO!”

Okay, that’s right. And is it okay for someone to make you do something with your body that you don’t want to do?

“NO!”

You’re right! You know these things, just like Ruth and Boaz. But Ruth and Boaz also knew that not all people know these things. Not all people know that everyone should be in charge of their own bodies, so Boaz told all the workers in that field that Ruth was in charge of her own body, and they weren’t allowed to touch her body or do anything that made her uncomfortable. (I hope he reminded them that everyone is in charge of their own bodies, but it doesn’t say that in the story, so we can’t know for sure.)

So I want you to remember a few things for me, can you do that?

*nodding*

First, I want you to remember what Ruth and Boaz knew: that everyone is in charge of their own bodies, and it’s never okay for someone to touch you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or to make you do something with your body that you don’t want to do. Is that ever okay?

“NO!”

Good. Also, about this, I wish this weren’t true, but sometimes it happens that someone will *still* touch your body in a way that makes you uncomfortable, *even* if you say no, and this this is *never your fault.* Do you hear me? It is NEVER your fault. And if that happens to you, I hope you will tell a safe grown-up, like a parent or grandparent or teacher or pastor…maybe you can talk to the grown-ups who brought you here tonight on the way home about who your safe grown-ups might be.

So if someone touches your body in a way that makes you uncomfortable, is it *ever* your fault?

“NO!”

Tell me again. Is it EVER your fault?

“*NOOOOOO!!!*”

Good. 

Okay, now, I want you to remember to be like Boaz, and to be like Ruth. 

I want you to remember to be like Boaz, so that if you ever see anyone touching someone else’s body in a way that makes them uncomfortable, you can remind them that that’s not okay, and that we’re all in charge of our own bodies. And if you don’t want to say that, because you don’t want to talk to that person, maybe you can talk to a safe grown-up, so they can remind that person. 
We do this because we are all part of the same big family, even when we’ve never met, just like Ruth and Boaz, so we want to help keep everyone safe. Do you think maybe you could be like Boaz in that way?

*nodding*

Good. And finally, I hope you can remember to be like Ruth, and be brave. Because sometimes this stuff makes us feel scared, like we shouldn’t try new things, or go new places, but remember that being brave doesn’t mean we’re not scared, it just means we try new things anyway, just like Ruth did. Can you remember this, too? Can you remember to be like Ruth, and to be brave?

*nodding*

Good. We’ve talked about so many important things here tonight. I’m really glad you were here.

“ANGELS” (REV. BRADLEY SCHMELING)
On the Saturday after Christine Blasey Ford and Brent Kavanaugh testified before Congress, I noticed that the day’s commemoration was for St. Michael and All Angels. It disappoints me that even though only two have names, angels in the bible are primarily rendered as male. After such a bruising week, I wasn’t sure we needed one more reflection that could give testosterone wings. Unless, perhaps, the angels have something different to say about being male. After all, they're a pretty gender-bending group. Look at them! They're almost always in dresses. Try to find Gabriel without blush. They tend to show up to empower women or to announce that their bodies bear the truth of the universe. Every time, they honor their conversations with the ones who are regularly dismissed or who will not be believed when they give their witness. They stand at boundaries with flaming swords to say, "Don't cross that line, buddy!" They minister to Jesus, who resists temptation, and says no to having the whole world in the wrong way. Angels, by the way, have no interest in being Number One or the greatest of anything. They kill the dragons that threaten children. They appear in the night sky to demonstrate that in heaven an army looks more like a choir. And, of course, they sing. They sing gloriously.

“NO DRY TREE” (REV. SONNY GRAVES) 
“We who have a name greater than Sons or Daughters 
We who are transgender, genderqueer, and part of God's holy image
Where do we speak our stories and our pain? 
Where is our refuge and witness? 
Where do I share what it means to be raped as a little girl, as a Queer woman, as a Transgender man
that will honor the whole being and story… 
What of my friend who tried to report to the police and was laughed at? 
What of my kin who was violated by the person who worked the only LGBTQ resource where they lived? 
What of the beloved who was told we don’t know how to do a rape kit for your kind of body? 
We who fear how the hospital will treat us
how the hotline will speak to us
who bear the silence of our existence in our churches
we who often have no shelter of respect and dignity
In trying to heal our trauma…
Where is our refuge and witness among you, 
our siblings? 
For those who God has given a name greater than the binaries of this world… 
And yet God knows the power of our resurrections 
The power of telling our truths
The power of holding our grief 
The power of finding our own ways of accountability
of creating safety - for if no one else will, we will protect each other…  
God knows the power of her Queer and Trans children 
that even when the world will not see us or hear us 
We are no dry tree, dying in silence… 
Our Creator is persistent in birthing us generation after generation 
We have a mighty faith
In Jesus who gathers the exiles - puts balm to the wounds - weeps with the suffering - 
Comes with us to the tomb - who when the stone is rolled away - will raise us up in new life… 
We have a name by the Holy One that is greater. 
Our name is beloved, our name is justice, our name is healing, the house of prayer, the covenant and kingdom 
that God declares is for ALL people 
We are the sacred Queer and Trans survivors
That endure forever"

A response to Isaiah 56:1-8

STATIONS FOR PRAYER AND PRESENCE
Prayer stations are located throughout the Sanctuary. If you decide to visit a prayer station, the Ministers of Presence are ready to listen, pray, lay hands on you, or anoint your forehead with your consent. You may also ask them to wrap your shoulders in a prayer shawl made by supporting congregations that is then yours to keep.

LITANY OF PRAYERS (REV. SARAH BROUWER)
God who listens, sees, and believes, we cry out to you this night, as we lay our pain before you. May your Spirit ache with the sighs of survivors and the burden they carry. 
God of mercy, hold us in love.

God who knows the value of our bodies, created in your image, remind us of their beauty and worth, which cannot be taken from us. May your Spirit mend the parts of us that have been devalued and violated.
God of mercy, hold us in love.

God who understands the complexity of our minds, we ask that you recognize our inmost thoughts - those places of shame and anxiety that keep us from being fully alive. May your Spirit reach the memories of our past that affect our present and future wellbeing.
God of mercy, hold us in love.

God who works for justice, we yearn for the day when our stories of abuse come to the surface and all are held accountable for what has been hidden. May your Spirit provide time and space for our anger and our truth-telling, and may the infringement on our bodies and our lives to be fully known. 
God of mercy, hold us in love.

God who loves every part of us unconditionally, help us to love ourselves, and in due time, to trust those who wish to love us. May your Spirit be with our closest people: our children, our partners, the ones who care about our healing and being in relationship with us. 
God of mercy, hold us in love.

God who perceives what is deep inside of us, reveal the integrity of our souls, which was never lost, and will guide us with strength into the world. May your Spirit illumine all that is good in us, so we might serve a world desperate for what only we can offer. 
God of mercy, hold us in love.

God who is with us, who feels our pain, who suffers alongside us, hear us now, as your survivors speak their pain out loud and in their hearts, the names of those who have held power of them, the places that instill fear, the obstacles that seem insurmountable. We hold this time and space in the presence of the Spirit and in community to pray out loud or in silence, to yell, to be angry, to release, to love, and hold close our deepest pain...a moment is held... 

God of new life, we come before you broken and revived, seeking and hopeful, weak and strong.
God of mercy, hold us in love.

Drawn together by our Spirit, we are a community with shared experience, sustained by the knowledge that we are never alone. Send us out from this place comforted and free. We will never be the same, but we will always be yours, and beloved. Amen.

“IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH” (REV. SARA WILHELM GARBERS)
I don’t know when I first encountered you…
I was 19 when I remember the scene: My mom’s room, your story and remembrance close to me.
“I’ve been to the well, mother, and it’s the only water that will satisfy my thirst…but the problem is, mom, that the well is poisoned and it’s killing me.”
And maybe I you understood my story more than I myself—
This land,
My/our bodies occupied territory.
Riven with the lines not of exile but of erasure.
DISAPPEAR. DISAPPEAR.
Beyond the gaze. Beyond the pale.
A noontime journey for water to drink.
I venture- “We’ve been told we must worship there, and the others say here…”
I look at you. I disputate. I speak my truths.
And you say….
They lied.
Their violence intended at your destruction.
The lied.
Take back. Take back the water
The life
The force of your power.
“In spirit and in truth.”
In body and in truth
In intuition and in truth
In THIS skin
In THIS knowing …. The mothers knew
I am still here
And I rise
Into this skin.
My fierce, wounded knowing.
In THIS skin
In OUR bodies
Guttural cry
We rise
We rise
We worship
In OUR knowing
In spirit and in truth
In OUR truths
In our skin
Our voices
OUR knowing
OUR
OUR 
OUR…
“I’ve been to the well, mother. And I’ve discovered the new oldest cistern.”
I AM.
WE ARE.
And this (gesturing to those gathered)…
THIS is water.

Inspired by the Woman at the Well

SENDING WORDS
Go in peace, assured that God hears us and we are not alone. 
Thanks be to God.

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