October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and this past Saturday, October 7, 2023, Reverend Susan joined the Solicitor General's March Against Domestic Violence. Together with members from the community, Reverend Susan and several members of the church walked together in remembrance of, and in solidarity with, survivors of domestic abuse. After the march was a short candle light program which highlighted those victims in Baldwin County specifically. Below is the prayer Reverend Susan read to begin the program:
You come to us in a broken body.
Men of the church have told us for centuries that our men are the head of us. They’ve told us that it is a man’s right to chastise his woman. They’ve told us that our suffering is holy. We are told to endure our suffering because Jesus endured his. They’ve presented us with false words in a world Jesus came to redeem.
Yet we know in bones that break and skin that bruises and hearts that bleed that before you, no suffering is holy. Even Jesus’ suffering was an unholy thing. But this broken Jesus suffered because we suffer. This broken Jesus suffered because humanity causes suffering.
We pray and long and work for a day when no one sees redemption in suffering. When we embrace redemption in the life that overpowers death. When we turn from the ways of anger and violence. When we finally understand that the prerogative of life and death belongs not to abusers, but only to you.
We pray for our sisters—cis and trans. We pray for the broken bodies lying on bathroom floors, in hospital beds, in morgues, in graves. We pray also for our brothers—cis and trans—who have suffered domestic violence at the hands of those who profess their love. We pray for the abusers: those who have left their partners and spouses living a terrorized life. We pray for their enlightenment and reform.
We pray, too, for those who tend to those broken bodies. The families who rally around them; the medical professionals who attend their wounds; the social workers and police officers who see the horror of the damage inflicted up close.
And we pray for the children who have witnessed their parents and grandparents and aunties and uncles and siblings either endure or die. We pray that they may grow up knowing this is not how it is meant to be. We pray that they are able to break the cycle in their own lives. We pray that they will become people who protect and preserve life. We pray that they will know that suffering is unholy and nonredemptive, and that they will insist that violence will have no place in their lives. We pray that they will understand that a loving partnership is one of mutual respect. That God gives us the joy of partnership so that we never fight battles alone. That we are meant to fight alongside each other. We pray that these children will show us the power of life over death. We pray that they will redeem us.
Bless us and be with us as we remember, grieve, and vow to do better.
Ashe. May it be so. Amen.