Sermon: Travelling Mercies on Family Journeys – Genesis 37:17-35

The story of Joseph and his brothers has captured our attention for thousands of years. It’s a story of family violence. A story of a family walking a long journey with the consequences of that violence. It’s a story of how God can take violent people and turn them around.

Why did violence happen in that family? Maybe it wasn’t the coat they saw in the distance that tipped the balance on the day Joseph was sold into Egypt. Maybe it wasn’t because Joseph was a tattle tale, squealing on his brothers. Maybe it wasn’t the father’s love given unequally, unfairly. Maybe it wasn’t because of the dreams.  Maybe it wasn’t any of those things. Maybe it was simply the weather was too hot, everyone was cranky.

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Sermon: Creating Sanctuaries–Abuse in the Church – Psalm 32, Exodus 25:3-9

Schools, businesses and professional organizations of all kinds have safe place policies. Now I know that we have high hopes for the church. As followers of Jesus, shouldn’t we have a lower percentage of bad behavior? We strive not just for civility and not killing each other, we strive for love in the church. Shouldn’t the church be a safer place than other places?  Yes, there is love and caring in the church but unfortunately, people bring every part of their humanness to the church, and that includes the humanness that leads to hurting each other.

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Prayer for Those Committing Sexual Offences

This prayer is for all who are making a big mistake today,
especially those who are committing a sexual assault
or abusing someone who trusts them.
God of truth, you know their actions, you hear their words.
Lies, manipulations, plotting.
Threatening, hunting, cornering.
Overpowering, hurting, dominating.
All of these actions devastate the victim.
They also lead the one who does them towards death:
each act obliterating tenderness,

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When Family Violence Devastates a Community…

God of hope, hear our lament.
Since we heard the news of ____________________
our minds are reeling.
This is violence happening in our own neighbourhood.
Some of us knew the victims,
some know people who knew them.
Our community is grieving.
We pray for family and friends of the victims.
We pray for police officers who responded.
We pray for counsellors called in,
and everyone touched by this crime.
We need your help because this crime is not singular.
Every year women are murdered by their partners,

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Leaving Marriage: A Survivor’s Prayer

For richer, for poorer, for better, for worse.
I made these vows, God, before you and witnesses.
You know I meant them.
But how worse is worse?
What does faithfulness mean when he hurls his dinner at the wall?
What does honour mean when he throws me to the ground by my hair?
What does love mean when sex is always about what he wants?
You know I’m not perfect.
My words, my thoughts, my actions have been far from loving.
But this situation is impossible.
I lie down in fear, and I wake in fear….

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Prayer Against Patriarchy

God, you see our world.
The girl baby told she is sweet and lovely,
the boy baby praised for strength and power.
The little girl told to be quiet and sit still,
the boy allowed to run and play because boys will be boys.
The adolescent girl not giving the answer in school,
because the boys make fun if she stands out.
The teenage girl crossing her arms over her breasts,
after the boys comment and reach out to touch.
The young woman watching where she walks,
noticing in every room if there is a threat,

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Psalm at a Women’s Shelter

od, you are my rock and my redeemer,
you are my shelter, an ever present help in times of trouble.
You know that violence has been my diet, day and night.
I called to you from the depths, “God, save my life.”
It is not my enemy that attacks me, but it is my partner,
the one I love who assails me.
My body is black and blue,
my mind is reeling from insults thrown at me.
The love that I gave is thrown back in my teeth.
In this storm of trouble, I looked for help;
you led me to this women’s shelter.
When I needed a safe place to protect my children,

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Prayer for a Battered Woman

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
When I think I can change another person,
remind me that I can change only myself.
When I think that being hurt is your will,
remind me of your exodus call to flee from oppression.
When I think I should sacrifice myself unto death,
remind me that you died for our sins, so I don’t have to.
O Lord grant that I may not so much seek to endure abuse,
as to escape it entirely;
that I may not so much seek to model victimization,
as to model being a faithful survivor.
For it is in new beginnings that we find your grace,
it is in standing on our own two feet that we find your strength,
it is in leading our family to safety, that we find peace.

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About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner www.leadinginworship.com” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at carol@leadinginworship.com

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