This past Sunday in worship we read the horrifying tale of Tamar’s rape by her half-brother Amnon, firstborn son of David, along with Jesus’ story of “the sheep and the goats”, where the nations are judged on the basis of how they treated “the least of these”, a.k.a. the sisters and brothers of Jesus. Part of our response to the good news of Jesus bringing justice to the least of these was to notice where we ourselves have been dehumanized and exploited, and cry out to God for vindication.
We also read Psalm 27 together responsively, and in my preparation I learned that Rev. Wilda Gafney (who curated and translated the Women’s Lectionary we are using this year) included Psalm 27 because she imagined Tamar praying it after her rape. So I asked Katie (the lector on Sunday) to introduce our responsive reading of Psalm 27 by encouraging us to imagine Tamar praying along with us.
And I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but I felt something profound happen in me and in our midst as we gave voice to Tamar’s anguish, and by extension, the anguish of all who have been abused.
When evildoers advance against me to devour my flesh,
my adversaries and my foes, they shall stumble and fall…
[God] will shield me in her shelter when the day is evil;
she will cover me under the cover of her tent;
she will raise me high on a rock.
If my mother and father forsake me,
the COMPASSIONATE GOD will gather me in.
I shall see the goodness of SHE WHO IS FAITHFUL
in the land of the living…
As one of your priests, I want to commend this as an ongoing practice for you. Praying in solidarity with others like this is part of how we stand in solidarity with and advocate for the abused. As you pray the Psalms (and I encourage everyone to pray every day), even if you don’t personally connect with experience of the Psalmist, you give yourself over to praying on behalf of those who suffer today.
Especially this week, as we’ve heard horrifying news of terror and atrocities in Israel, I encourage you to not just doomscroll, and not just avoid the news. Instead, give yourself over to praying and lamenting by praying the psalms in solidarity with and on behalf of those who are suffering.