Limb by limb

Repenting and repairing a legacy of violence against women

by Ken Sehested

Men: Our hearts sag with sorrow when the history of such misery is unveiled.

Women: Such truthfulness comes at a cost. But worthy is the truth.

M: What good can come from such vile remembrance? Can we not safely and silently dispose of such memory?

W: No, not safely. Heaven still hears. The roots are deep. The seeds are dormant. The brutal harvest continues.

M: How then can we live with such terrible knowledge?

W: We can live because the truth unknots the cords of enmity. But first, a NO has to be spoken with clarity, a renunciation has to be made, before a YES can be asserted, before an affirmation can be announced.

M: Then let us proceed. Will you walk with us?

W: Yes, we will walk with you.

M: With the encouragement of you, our sisters, we renounce the habits of tyranny and intimidation. And we shall instruct our sons to also renounce.

W: With the encouragement of you, our brothers, we renounce any silence and complicity. And we shall instruct our daughters to undertake such risky speech.

All: Breath of Providence, Breast of Provision, be near us in the midst of terror which assaults the bond between male and female, jointly created in the image of Holy Intent.

Strengthen and sustain the work of Helpmate*. Fortify their voice. Steel their courage in the face of resistance. Enlarge their merciful embrace of all whose lives are battered and bruised and broken.

Beloved, bear witness to these promises. Confirm our repentance. Grant bold resolve from hearts humbled by Your caress. As we are endeared to You, so make us endearing to each other. Limb by limb may the healing begin, in us according to your mercy.

©Ken Sehested @,

Written for use in a special worship service dealing with domestic violence. Sermon text for the day: Judges 19, the story of the torture and murder of the unnamed concubine. *Helpmate is the name of the local shelter for women and their children.