Women Charting a Course in the Midst of Terrorism
by Glory E. Dharmaraj *
InvocationGracious God, we come before you this morning seeking your presence. As one body of Christian workers, we gather around you with our young grief and old grief: feelings of pain and uncertainty in the midst of change, memories of terror and loss here and around the world. God, our help in ages past, be our hope today and for years to come. May our intimacy with you and our companionship with each other become means of healing, restoration and renewal, this day and all days. In the name of Jesus the Christ, we pray. Amen.
Litany: Lifting Memories
Leader: God, we lift up our hearts, full of memories of places and events.
All: We lift up our hearts, full of personal and institutional memories.
Leader: We remember victims of terrorist acts here and around the world.
All: We lift up our recent and past histories of loss and pain.
Leader: We remember victims of everyday injustices.
All: In faithful remembrance, we lift up silences and silencing in history.
Leader: With thankful hearts, we recall God’s transforming and liberating activity.
All: You have called us, O God, to be transforming agents.
Leader: Heal our personal and corporate selves.
All: Help us to embrace and lay claim to your fullness of life.
Leader: We are your redeemed people, called to act out of your plenty.
All: We are a community of remembrance enacting your story of death and resurrection,
Leader: transforming everyday memory into a sacred threshold of beauty and truth,
All: enabling God’s people to dance down the aisle of God’s plenitude.
Leader: Gracious God, holy, holy, holy are you. You heal our painful memories and release us into your service.
All: The rock of our soul, holy, holy, holy are you. You steady our steps in our work with the margins.
Leader: Thanks to you, our God, who bears us into a vibrant present.
All: Thanks to you, our God, who equips us and carries us into brighter tomorrows.
Leader: Friends: take heart. We have been baptized, confirmed and set apart for God’s ministry.
All: Friends, when the going gets tough, God enables us to run along the safe corridor of our calling.
Leader: We lift up our sacred calling to Christ.
All: We lift up our calling to be co-creators of safe corridors of life.
Leader: God with us, you put us on the side of life rather than death.
All: God with us, you lead us into life in its abundance.
Leader: Through Jesus the Christ, our co-worker and co-runner into life in its fullness.
All: Through Jesus the Christ, who loves us and woos us into God’s mission.
“O God, Our Help in Ages Past”
No. 117, The United Methodist Hymnal
Luke 8: 1-3
Luke 23: 55-56
Luke 24: 1-11
Reflection: Memories of Joanna, a Wounded HealerI am Joanna. I am a Resurrection Woman. I was one of the women who helped Jesus and his disciples with my resources. You hear about me in Luke 8:1-3. I was a disciple who followed Jesus through towns and villages.
I felt called to follow Jesus. It was a time when most believed it was in their best interests to side with the Romans, not with an itinerant preacher. I left my home, my slaves and King Herod’s court society to follow Jesus. The wife of King Herod’s senior royal officer following Jesus: that is the stuff of national gossip.
I remember Herod marrying his niece and sister-in-law, Herodias. Her daughter, Salome, lived with her in the court. The one man who dared to criticize that marriage – John the Baptist – was killed.
John refused to keep his religion in the isolation of the wilderness, insulated from the world. He dared to bring his witness to the court circles in Jerusalem, to Herod’s court circle: a place of glamour and lust, wealth and deception, manipulation and servitude.
Salome danced through it all on that seductive and fatal day. I heard about her dance through my husband, Chuza.
The Herods of our world create killing fields. John the Baptist paid the ultimate price for witnessing to power. Death by violence: sponsored by Herod Antipas. Such violence was not new to this royal family.
The father of Herod Antipas, known as Herod the Great, ordered the massacre of thousands of toddlers under age 2. Bethlehem became a killing field. The other side of the Christmas story is state-sponsored terrorism. Jesus escaped as his family fled to Egypt, but many boys his age were killed: civilian deaths in our sacred story.
Jesus’ society feared the power of the Roman Empire and failed to address the state because of internal moral crisis.
For Joanna, following Jesus was risk-taking mission. Following Jesus today means speaking truth to power. Following Jesus today is risk-taking mission.
“For the Healing of the Nations”
No. 428, The United Methodist Hymnal
Benediction (In unision)God of grace, lead us as a nation and as a people through our painful memories. We lift up ourselves as your redeemed and healed people, ready to serve, now and always. May the guidance of your Holy Spirit sustain us as a beloved community. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
* Written by Glory E. Dharmaraj, Women’s Division executive