March 15, 2015: Betrayal, Violence & sex-trafficked women

Posted on : Mar 12th, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

DUE TO THE LA MARATHON, WORSHIP WILL BE AT 5PM THIS SUNDAY!!

If you ever thought that having faith, being religious or loving Jesus should spare you from the trauma drama of life, the story of the last days of Jesus’ life should clear up that misconception.

Last Sunday we heard the story of Jesus asking the disciples to stay with him – keep awake – pray with him as he prepared to face his own death. The initial response from the disciples was, “Of course we will! Fear not. We will always be there with you.” Jesus predicted they would all flee and Peter, the one whom Jesus selected as “the Rock” on whom the church would be built after Jesus’ death, protested the loudest. He says to Jesus, “They may desert you, but I never will!” Jesus informs Peter that, not only will he desert him, but he will deny even knowing him before the cock crows at the beginning of the next new day. And sure enough, the disciples fall asleep three times while Jesus is praying and Peter denies knowing Jesus three times before the beginning of the next day.

If that weren’t painful enough, this Sunday’s story begins with Judas, one of the Twelve Disciples, betraying Jesus by kissing him. Here’s how it is told:

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with Judas was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’

At once Judas came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him.  Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, why are you doing this?’

We then discover that this “armed group” gets into a fight and one of Jesus’ supporters pulls out his sword and strikes the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

Betrayal and violence often go together. Betraying someone is actually an act of violence; not physically but emotionally. To betray someone is to break an established trust. And once that trust is broken, it can’t be taken back. You can’t “un-betray” someone. Once it’s done; it’s done. The trust has been broken. You can work on rebuilding trust and/or the relationship, but you can never “undo” what has been done.

This is the issue women who have been sexually violated experience. They have to deal with the break-of-trust in their lives as well as the physical act of being violated. Men tend to joke a lot about rape, until they experience being raped or know someone they love who is raped. Women, on the other hand, do not joke about rape. They know how violent and abusive rape is.

Two weeks ago when we were in Mexico on our Mission Trip, part of our group went to visit a ministry we in the UCC have with women who have been prostituted and sexually trafficked.   There is a huge sex trade that takes place along the US/Mexican border. Many impoverished women, girls and boys are either sold into the sex trade or turn to prostitution as a means of economic support. Especially on weekends there are large groups of young men who come cross the border into Mexico for “sex weekends.” There are also large groups of middle aged and older men who do the same thing. Sadly, the younger the women, girls and boys are, the more profitable they are.

Centro Romero has just opened a new safe house for women who have been sold into the sex trade.   Our group was one of the first groups allowed to go to the safe house. This is not something that normally can happen. And while we had to abide by some very strict rules about not violating the residents’ safe space, we learned something very shocking about the sex trade industry and something very hopeful about what we are trying to do in offering the residents this safe place to live. The safe house is really a place where human transformation takes place. God is changing lives!

Most of us don’t think of Jesus as one who was victimized and violated, but he was. Though not a victim of sexual violence, he nonetheless personally experienced what it means to be victimized and violated. For me, that makes Jesus more human and more understanding of our human struggle. For me, that creates a whole new possibility for a relationship with our God who has suffered, even as we suffer. For me, that is a witness that violence and betrayal is not the end. There is healing and wholeness that can come out of such experiences in life.

This Sunday we will hear about that healing and wholeness as Marie and Alexis share with us what they experienced at our Safe House for Sex-Trafficked Women. We’ll also look at how trust can be rebuilt and our faith strengthened in knowing that Jesus experienced many of the same feelings that we do.

Lenten Blessings to you,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Matthew 26: 47- 56

Jesus is betrayed and arrested

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with Judas was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once Judas came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him.  Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, why are you doing this?’

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to God and God will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?’ At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted Jesus and fled.

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