The Sermon I Didn’t Preach (content warning: rape)

9th Sunday after Pentecost- 2 Samuel 11:1-15

Today is a baptism. And also the readings where yet again people will hear the story of Bathsheba and David and will once more allow a victim to be blamed.

I am not afraid to preach a good and hard sermon. But there is also a time and place. And today, we celebrate new life, joy, hope, and there will be young people present with no nursery due to COVID. So instead… I place this here for you.

You see, that is our history. I love our scriptures- but they are the results of a specific time in history, of a particular lens of writers and even those who chose these books out of so many. Within that history is a habit as old as time to blame the victim.

Throughout time, we have made Bathsheba into a temptress for doing what normal women did (bath on the roof- it was private!!!!!). Just because she was not dragged by her hair to the king for him to abuse his power did not mean she was willing. In fact, it does not even mean she had a choice.

King David was a rapist and murderer. He abused his power and not only forced her into a sexual relationship (remember she had NO choice- context matters folks!) but afterward, he murdered her honorable husband to cover it up. The man was no saint. He was saturated with sin and power at this point in his life.

She had no choices in this situation. She did not have a single option available to her except to act with as much dignity as she could muster.

Every human who suffers sexual abuse and rape at the hands of another does the same, even today. We put on our best mask and try to make the world think we are strong. We don’t let them see just how cruel and destructive our abusers are. And we still fight the narrative that somehow the victim is to blame.

But Jesus gathers the pieces.

Just as the bread went out whole, it was not thrown away after others fed from it. Instead, the pieces were not even thrown to the ground. They were gatherd.

In Christ, we are gathered, cherished, and given hope and healing. Today, I want to give Bathsheba some healing. I want us to hear the victim and acknowledge her story. Because in the story being heard, the truth being told, our pieces can be gathered up in Christ and we can be set free.

The way they broke you did not make you worthless. It did not diminish you. It diminished them. Your beauty, strength, and resilience are not any less. They cannot steal that from you. And all the frayed and broken parts inside, they are held with sacred gentleness by our Lord, until you are ready to be whole, to be reformed in Christ.

There is healing. There is wholeness. There is truth. There is a different future ahead for us. And for Bathsheba. And it begins with the truth of our Lord, naming what IS and calling out the systems of oppression and harm. In his entire ministry, Christ values the victim and in doing so, the abuser is under the spotlight for accountability. It made those in power so angry they murdered him too. But he did not give up. And through his Spirit, he does not give up, even today.

He gathers the pieces.

Author: mistressofdivinity

Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Riverside, California; a congregation of the Pacifica Synod in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Even though the diploma reads "Master of Divinity," the learning continues and I have the wrong body parts to earn a "masters" so I claim Mistress. I lean into this pastoral role more each day, learning to balance vocation and family, life and passion, living and loving.

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