Order, Voices, & Words 10.24.21

Order

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Opening Audio (10:15am)
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio

#1 ONE Video #1 (3:03)
Call to Worship
Whole Heart - Brandon Heath
Live/OnLine
Prayer    Rick
Music 1   Abbie & Billy
   How Great Is Our God (Tomlin, Cash, & Reeves)
Today’s Story  Online - Kelly & In Person-Nikki
Music 2  Abbie & Billy
   I Will Sing Of My Redeemer (McGranahan & Philip & Bliss)
Message    ‘The Forgotten Women…”  Rick
Music 3  Abbie & Billy
   Spirit of the Living God (Iverson)
Community  Rick
Benediction    Online - Kelly & In Person-Nikki
Closing Peace  Rick
Closing Audio
Spotify - Not In A Hurry Radio


Voices and Words


Prayer

God, With what shall we come before the You?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will you be pleased if we come with thousands of rams,
And ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall we give our firstborn for our transgression?
You has told you, what is good;
You have told us what you require of us
You have told us to do justice,
To love kindness,
And to walk humbly with you, our God?
Amen
Micah 6:6-8


Music 1

How Great Is Our God
CCLI Song # 4348399
Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, &| Jesse Reeves
Verse 1
The splendor of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
And trembles at His voice
Chorus
How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God
Verse 2
And age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the End
Beginning and the End
The Godhead three in one
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb
Chorus
How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God

Today’s Story 

Last week we learned of the Jewish scholarly tradition of Teku - “I don’t understand….yet”. Teku is a great concept for us to understand now with our passage for this week.  We thought last week was the pinnacle of uncomfortableness but this week’s scripture has brought us to new heights of squeamishness!
Two stories, in two different cities, both cities with the most depraved men ever. Even the supposed hero’s of these stories are just awful human beings!
I’m not even sure where to start!
I guess we have to start with the city of Sodom. A city whose very name now carries a connotation of what actually didn’t happen there. A connotation, that itself, points to the legacy of disrespect of women, minorities, and foreigners. It all started with two angels, messengers from God, who came to remind Abraham of God’s promise of a son.
As the messengers were leaving Abraham, they mentioned that they also were on a mission to check into what was going on in Sodom, the city Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family lived.  Abraham knew of the depravity in Sodom and that the message from God would be rejected, so he began to bargain on part of Sodom.  “If we can find 50 men who are not horrible, or 35, or 10 men, will you not destroy the city?”
Abraham knew that there were not even 10 that would be classified and ‘not evil’, or even ‘just marginally bad’, Abrahan could not even think of 10 from Lot’s family.
Instead of listening to the words of the messengers, the men of the city opted to try to brutalize and rape the messengers who were staying in Lot’s house. The angels handled this on their own by blinding the men, but Lot still offered his two daughters to the men in his effort to stop the depraved men.
Here is the topper, this is not the only place in the old testament where something like this happens. There was a Levite, a religious leader, who had a concubine who he really seemed to like. When she left him, he went running after her to convince her to return to him. Later, he also was trapped in another town called Gibeah. It, too, was full of depraved men who attempted to brutalize and rape him. Instead of himself, he threw his concubine out the door for them to do to her what they planned to do to him.
When the men were finished they threw the woman on the doorstep and the Levi, and then the Levite let her remain there in agony until the sun came up! Til he got out of bed. Then, he cut up her body spreading the pieces around the tribes of Israel to highlight the evil of the men in Gibeah.
Okay, so the man who saved himself by sacrificing his concubine then cut up her body to say that the men of Gibeah were the evil ones? Surely this is a week early halloween story!
Lord help us, this is beyond a Teku passage!
It is definitely an ‘I don’t understand’ passage.


Music 2

I Will Sing Of My Redeemer
CCLI Song # 69260
James McGranahan & Philip Paul Bliss
Verse 1
I will sing of my Redeemer
And His wondrous love to me
On the cruel cross He suffered
From the curse to set me free
Chorus
Sing O sing of my Redeemer
With His blood He purchased me
On the cross He sealed my pardon
Paid the debt and made me free
Verse 2
I will tell the wondrous story
How my lost estate to save
In His boundless love and mercy
He the ransom freely gave
Chorus
Sing O sing of my Redeemer
With His blood He purchased me
On the cross He sealed my pardon
Paid the debt and made me free
Verse 3
I will praise my dear Redeemer
His triumphant power I'll tell
How the victory He giveth
Over sin and death and hell
Chorus
Sing O sing of my Redeemer
With His blood He purchased me
On the cross He sealed my pardon
Paid the debt and made me free

Message        ‘The Forgotten Women…’
Two cities, 700-800 years apart, filled with evil men and marginalized people. Two cities where the inhabitants, and even the designated protagonists, were willingly immersed in depravity. Two cities, much the same as the city of Noah, and probably the city of Babel where raw brutality was a constant norm. Two cities where all who entered were soon hardened and unfazed. Two cities where the worst of hell became manifest on earth.

In the end, two cities through which God points our complicity.

Phyllis Trible describes today’s passages as ‘Texts of Terror.’ Uncomfortable texts which brutally oppose the teachings of Jesus.
Phyllis Trible, Professor Sacred Literature, Union Theological Seminary, Texts of Terror.

One was a city named Sodom - the other a city named Gibeah.

The story of Sodom erroneously brings homosexualty to our minds - however, such a simple shallow understanding dilutes and diminishes the story.

Sodom, was a name assigned to a city. Linguist have identified that the verb form, ‘Sodomy’, was not created until 300 years after Christ. Sodom and the word Sodomy did not carry a definition of ‘abominable’ sex acts, nor were the crimes of Sodom attributed to homosexuality until thousands of years later (long after the writing of the Bible). Sodom’s emphasis was not Sodomy until Christianity became institutionally powerful. A time when Christians began to use their influence to confront the sins of society - it is not about homosexuality (as homosexuality was not a designation or a word until the 1800s), instead, the church was confronting pederasty - a practice of child sexual abuse that had been acceptable for centuries.

In Sodom the assigned protagonist was a man named Lot, in Gibeah it was an unnamed Levite responsible for certain religious duties at the temple. Both protagonists acted out of the same ignorance, selfishness, and depravity as the mobs outside their door.

Lot, the nephew of Abraham, had moved his family and possessions to Sodom because of the fertile ground. In Sodom, Lot and his family were willingly immersed in the hedonistic and self-centered dark hearts of their neighbors. Lot achieved leadership status in the city, he sat at the city gates watching over the city, the people of Sodom had become family, and Lot’s family had become part of the people.

The Levite was a visitor to the city of Gibeah, but he was not really an outsider. While he expressed outrage at the threats from the mob, his heart was even more depraved, heartless, and unholy.

Both of these selfish hearted men stood fearfully behind a door, both with their tainted ancestral hearts. In both stories the dismissed women, were offered as substitute for the men. Lot offered his daughters, even though his guests could take care of themself. The Levite opened the door just enough to throw out his wife to the mob - quickly closing the door so he could get a decent night’s sleep.

A correct understanding of the sin of Sodm and Gibeah is crucial so that we can recognize the true thread between these cities? It matters because the Later Prophets regularly compare the nation of Israel to Sodom. If the sin of Sodom was sodomy then this comparison seems inconsistent with all the common themes in the Prophets. However, if the sin of Sodom was xenophobia, insularity and a lack of social justice then this criticism is perfectly consistent with the messages that permeate the prophetic writings from that time.’
Biblical Hermeneutics

The sin of Sodom and Gibeah is a much deeper than just the actions of a depraved group of men - instead it provides us some insight to the subtle threat our own hearts. The threat lies on our side of the door, where a cancer creeps in spreading to every corner of our refuge.

While we  minimize the evil in Sodom by using it for our own cause, the story of the Levite in Gibeah takes us to new uncomfortable heights. Few commentators risk venturing out of a safe and unconvincing ‘Male View’ of Judges 19.  It is an inexcusably avoided passage from the Bible. Quite honestly, I would prefer to not dive into these waters. Instead, I will allow someone else to do it for me - the Reverend Sara Jobe, who does an amazing, and unrestrained job of providing an overview of the passage.

“Judges 19 describes the rape and dismemberment of an unnamed woman. The woman in the story is owned by a Levite. The word used to describe her, piylegesh” (her status), “can mean concubine, secondary wife, or wife of lower socio-economic standing. The two are in an intimate, though hierarchical, relationship. Something causes the woman to flee to her father’s home.” Historically, usually white male theologians have accused the unnamed woman of adultery but rabbinical writings repeatedly write that it was because of the Levite’s selfishness and neglect. “After four months, the Levite pursues his woman, supposedly to 'speak to her heart.’ Instead, the Levite, for five days speaks to, while eating and drinking with, the woman’s father.” The woman rejoins the Levite and they arrive in Gibeah where they are the guest of a hospitable resident. A depraved mob surrounds the house demanding they be given the Levite male. “The owner of the house offers his own daughter and the Levite’s unnamed woman to the crowd in exchange for the safety of his guest, the Levite man. As the crowd presses in, the Levite seizes his concubine and throws her out to the violent mob. The woman is gang-raped all night long. At dusk, she crawls back to the house where her master sleeping, and she collapses at the door. The well rested Levite rises the next morning ready to continue on his way. When he sees the woman’s hands resting on the threshold of the door he says, “Get up.” There is no answer. The man throws the woman, dead or alive we do not know, on his donkey. He arrives home, takes his knife, cuts his wife into twelve pieces, and sends her body out to the twelve tribes of Israel. When the man tells his story in Judges 20, he never mentions his own role in the crime. The story itself is horrific–betrayal, rape, murder, dismemberment, and cover-up of the crime. The narration of the story is also horrific. There is no explicit condemnation of the treatment of the woman. Israel’s supposedly outraged response is to slaughter entire towns and then rape four hundred additional women. God’s absence is horrific. In the Genesis passage, divine visitors blind the lust-mad crowd and rescue the women being offered. In Judges 19, no such rescue occurs. God does not stop the abuse. God does not even bother to show up afterward to condemn her rape and dismemberment. At the end of the story, everyone who sees the pieces of this woman’s battered body say together, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Incline your heart to her! Consider it! Speak out!”  God is silent, but we are commanded to speak out. God willingly claims this story of his absence as part of the larger story of God’s presence in the world. Victims of sexual violence know the truth of this claim. Many victims have experienced their abuse as being abandoned by God. Yet we do not make a space in our congregations for experiences of God’s neglect to be told. In 2010, stats told us one out of every six women has been raped. We leave victims of sexual violence voiceless languishing outside the door. We do not incline our hearts to them, consider their stories, or speak out.  We say ‘God works in mysterious ways or God has a plan’ Instead of following God’s lead–letting their statements of God’s absence rest heavily in our congregations. Judges 19 invites God’s present people to surround the wound of God’s absence.”
Sarah Jobe, Minister, Rutba House, Durham, NC,
Giving Voice to the Voiceless: Preaching Judges 19
Also on our doorstep are native American women who suffer murder at a rate 10 times higher than the national average, yet, even when they go missing, which they also have a high rate of, we remain silent in our chosen ignorance hiding behind the closed door. The guilty not only stand outside the door as perpetrators, the silent behind the door are guilty as well. We throw our silence out the door leaving the dismissed and abused languishing on the door step, we too share in the guilt. The lesson for us from these cities is not a warning of the depravity on the other side of our doors. It is a warning about standing on the safe side of the door. The greatest horror of this story is not the depravity on the outside, let’s be honest, we are fully aware of what is outside our doors. The danger is when we stand inside insulated, quickly throwing out to the other side of the door those things, those people, we can easily dismiss. Those that are already marginalized, judged, and condemned. When God called Noah to build an ark, he did not hide him in a warehouse behind a door with strong locks. The mobs already knew Noah. Noah completed his work in full view. Noah built in full view of the people. The mob could see what Noah was doing, they could hear his warning, but they repeatedly ignored the implications. Only Noah was righteous, but building the boat was not about Noah - it was for others, even for those on the other side of the door. The door was closed when it no longer needed to be open. The Levite did not really get God’s message. God was using him to alert the people of God to the fact that they had become the same as the mob on the other side of the door. Not because of brutal depravity, but because of their silence, their judgement, this condemnation, their dismissal, and their self-centeredness. Sadly, the tribes chose to act in revenge rather than allow God to show them their own complicity. They rejected God’s transformation and chose brutally instead. The message that the Levite missed still needs to be heard today. “Say to every man in Israel: ‘Has such a thing as this ever happened from the time the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt until now? Think about it! Talk it over. Do something!’” Judges 19:30 (MSG) God continues to implore us to put aside judgement and condemnation, to step out the door, and ‘Do Something!’ Let’s pray. Music 3 Spirit Of The Living God CCLI Song # 23488 Daniel Iverson Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on me Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on me Melt me mold me Fill me use me Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on me Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on me Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on me Melt me mold me Fill me use me Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on me Community Community hin·nê·nî  (Here I Am) - Bible Study - No Study this Thursday Next Sunday - ‘’A Perfect Halloween Squirm’ Communion, Sunday, October 31 Thanksgivng Dinner, Sunday, November 21 @ 6pm, details soon      Benediction We go from here into a strange world. We go from here into a world where sometimes the worst evil comes from inside of us. An evil within us that opens us up to wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Fills us with envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, acting boastful, inventing evil, acting foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. Evil that begins with putting ourself first in front of God and in front of all others. May we go from here determined not to fall prey to evil, may we seek to live and to care like Jesus. May we resolve to Love others as we ourselves love and are loved. May our life show our love for God and our love for others. Closing Peace May God’s grace, peace, joy, love, and hope go with you. And also with you. Go in grace, peace, joy, love, and hope.

Published by rickanthony1993

Husband of Andrea, Father of five, pastor of Grace Fellowship Norman OK.

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