50 | 40 | 10 | Devotions Series: March 26, 2020 – Rev. Jackie Braun
Devotions for the week of: March 26, 2020
Genesis 34:1-17 (NRSV) – The Rape of Dinah
In this brief story in Genesis, titled the rape of Dinah, we hear very little about Dinah. Only that she went out to visit the women of the region. While out visiting, Sechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region saw her, he seized her and lay with her by force (vs 2NRSV translation.) The passage unravels the resulting consequences, as her father, her brother and Sechem, the one who defiled Dinah, work to resolve the situation. As much as Dinah is the center of the story, she remains silent, simply a pawn as she is bartered for and the means by which others will seek revenge and power. Throughout history, women named and unnamed have been assaulted, raped, defiled and then disregarded and bartered for, simply a pawn in a game dotted with deceit, revenge and the desire to save face. Even today, women, young and old, remain silent at the center of the story, while the resulting events develop and unfold about them and around them.
Once, I sat in a meeting among colleagues and friends. One of our team members was distracted and agitated, finding it hard to focus and participate. Finally, in a moment of exasperation, the person blurted out a family member had been assaulted, raped by a close family friend. As we tried to provide comfort and reassurance, slowly others shared their stories, in the confines of that safe space, trying to ease the shame and the discomfort of speaking those words. Defiled as the Hebrew writers of so long ago retold the rape of Dinah. Not one individual in that room had been untouched by sexual or physical assault. Stories unraveled as daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, mentors, parents, or friends revealed their own or the story of a loved one who knew the pain of experiencing the force of another’s will upon them. We confessed we had walked on Holy Ground; as we committed to remember how our voice, our stories shattered the darkness, revealing healing and grace through the balm of the light.
The challenging, disheartening and yet very real truth revealed through this story though, has less to do with Dinah and more to do with her brothers, seeking revenge, using circumcision as the means of gaining power and honor. “Our sister can’t be with you, Sechem, that would be a disgrace to us,” Dinah’s brothers said. “Become like one of us first, by being circumcised, and then we will join you and we can be one,” they said. God’s covenant, a gift of God given to Abraham and his descendants, as a sign of God’s promise with His People, now also defiled and used as a means to manipulate and seek revenge upon another.
How often do we, too, reveal our own sins, by using His means of Grace as a tool to manipulate and control others? How often do we say:
“You who walked alone too late at night”
“You, who allowed it to happen”
“You, who smell, or are homeless, or use drugs”
“You, who are Queer, Transgender, Foreigner, Alien,”
“You, woman, You man – You, child of God”
You – who are a disgrace to us.
You – who are not like us!
First, become like one of us and then we will become one and you may receive the grace of Christ.
In this time of remembering and celebrating the ordination of women, may we remember the painful and difficult stories of our silence and of our past. May we speak truthfully of our need to seek revenge and power and honor, our desire to make others become like one of us, revealing our own sinfulness, as we withhold God’s means of grace from those who are sinner like us, child of God, like us.
Hear us as we pray, Gracious God, reveal our sins dear Christ, as we seek to be the church, strengthen us to proclaim and tell our stories we hide in the darkness, so that your grace and healing may be revealed. Remind us Holy One, our unity is in You, the means of grace a gift given for your sake, at your cost, given freely to all we name a disgrace, even to those who silently bear the shame of another, even to me a simple beggar in need of grace. Make us One, in your precious and Holy name, Jesus Christ we pray Amen.
Respectfully Submitted, Sister in Christ,
Pastor Jackie Braun
Lake Campbell Lutheran Church
Sinai Lutheran Church
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