Break the Silence Sunday (BTSS), 28th April

We have come by Christopher Grundy (scroll below for lyrics)

Break the Silence Sunday resources have been prepared by Rev Moira Finley along with other ecumenical and artistic collaborators in the USA. Rev. Finley is a survivor, and a UCC Pastor in the USA.
The BTSS resource has been adapted for use in Australia and can be downloaded here.

BTSS is a time for the church to come together:
* to learn about the realities of rape and sexual violence;
about ways to create a community where survivors
* can share stories and receive support, hope, and love;
* a way to prayerfully consider how to be advocates
for change in the community, and around the world.

Break The Silence Sunday Clergy Commitment (an example by Maren C. Tirabassi)
As a Christian pastor, as someone who tries to follow in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth, and as a human being committed to working for the dignity and equality of all people, I declare to survivors of sexual violence that:
I am a person to whom you can tell your story of sexual abuse, harassment, assault, violence, and more.
I will listen without judgement, and without condemnation.
I will hold all you tell me in sacred confidence, within the bounds of law.
I will listen to whatever you need to say, and however you need to say it.
I will honor your story, and remind you of the dignity and worth you have as a child of God, created in God’s own image, and I will remind you that you are more than your story.
I will walk beside you on your healing journey, accompanying you as best as I am able, and as you need to counselling appointments, court dates, or wherever else you need me to be with you.
I am here for you, and with you.
I stand with you.
I believe you.

Dear God, have pity
Dear God, have pity on every woman
who has tiptoed in fear
around a controlling man
who was not worthy of her loyalty and love.
Give her freedom
from the tears of guilt and the pain of shame
and the insidious, lying storyline
of how it has always been her fault.
Give her a break
from the endless, futile search
for ways to settle him, placate him,
appease and please him.
Give her a door
to safety and friends, to dignity and change,
to a place where his eye is not on her,
and she can see other horizons.
Start for her a new story
which he will not dictate,
a story with herself and you as co-authors.
Bless her with a true self
which he will not shape,
a sweet song to a tune not of his composing.
As for him, let your mercy come
to prevent him from doing more harm
to her, to their children, to anyone else,
or to his own shadowed soul.
(Source: Elizabeth Smith, Facebook post, April 2019)

Song: We have come
We have come by way of struggle
we have come by way of pain
we have come by all your steadfast love
O revive our souls again.
We have come to lay our burdens down
we have come to shed our shame
we have come to taste your boundless grace
and to rise as people changed.
We have come to spread your ways of peace
we have come to break the chains
we have come to stand with Jesus
lead us on into your reign
O lead us on into your reign
O lead us on into your reign.
(Source: Christopher Grundy, Hand and Soil Music)

Gathering (for a Christian service of worship for Break the Silence Sunday)
We come today…
empowered and afraid,
hopeful and unsure,
to break the silence.
We come today…
to hear our sisters and brothers,
to listen with open hearts and minds,
to break the silence.
We come today…
as people who follow Jesus,
who walk in the way of justice,
to break the silence.
We come today…
a people of compassion and hope,
to worship and pray,
to break the silence. (Source: Rev Moira Finley, BTSS 2017)

Gathering Prayer
Wherever you are in the silence you are welcome here.
Whether you have been waiting to be asked for your story knowing someone will listen and not express an opinion…
or you cannot imagine
telling your story
until fill-in-the-blank has died you finish therapy, start therapy or until hell freezes over.
Wherever you are in the silence you are welcome here.
Whether it’s someone else’s story, but as parent or sibling or child you are grateful to be quiet
in a place where this kind of truth is being told…
or you are really, really quiet
because suddenly you remember something you were a part of long ago that everyone then called
funny or stupid or insignificant,
but you know now –
it was sexual assault.
Wherever you are in the silence you are welcome here.
Whether you are stunned by statistics, or uncomfortable because
this isn’t churchly stuff,
or scared because you suspect
you are starting to remember what happened to you,
or sorry you told the pastor you would share your story… or are so glad, so glad, so wishing you could text three people and tell them to be here.
Wherever you are in the silence you are welcome here.
(Source: Maren Tirabassi)

(excerpt from a sermon by Rev Andrew Prior, 2019)
So much of what I hear preached is a triumphal life which is not life lived with wounds, or with scars which itch and break open, but is more like a life which denies the wounds. The wounded Christ shows us that we can live with terrible wounds which are slowly healed… and we can live with wounds which are never fully healed, and which always weep.
If we reject those for whom the wounding is especially grievous, then we are rejecting the Christ. For what we are really saying is that we are afraid of the wounds of such a person; we are saying these wounds cannot be healed, therefore you must leave because you distract us from the Christ, you fill us with fear, and you are too hard. And when we do that, we reject the Christ just as those found amongst the goats in Matthew 25 left Jesus to go hungry and thirsty.
The wounded stranger among us, far from being our problem, is in fact our reminder of the Christ, just as the stranger on the Emmaus Road proves to be the Christ. The wounded sister or brother among us show us how Christ was: wounded unto death. And their slow healing shows us that we too may being healed. And the places where they are not healed show us that resurrection life is lived despite wounding and death; it is lived “crucified-and-risen,” and it is lived ‘in death’ but without its content. Christ shows us where we must live. And the grievously wounded show us the Christ. And when we live with him and them I think we find, sometimes very slowly and imperfectly, that we are all being healed, and are moving to a life where wounds become the scars of the past, reminders of what has been and of what has been healed, and also, promises of more healing. In all our doubts and self-deception, it is living with the rawness of the wounds which finally betrays their powerlessness and confirms for us the reality of the Christ.
(Source: Andrew Prior (2019), One Man’s Web)

“Standing in the margins with the broken reminds us not of our own superiority but of our own brokenness. Awe is the great leveller. The embrace of our own suffering helps us land on a spiritual intimacy with ourselves and others. For if we don’t welcome our own wounds we will be tempted to despise the wounded.
(Source: Father Greg Boyle)

How could anyone ever tell you by Libby Roderick

Song: “How Could Anyone”
How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful? How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you’re connected to my soul.
(Words and music by Libby Roderick)

The sound of tears
There is a sound, God,
when grief spills from the corner of an eye,
and stains the earth with its wetness.
It is not a quiet sound,
although it may be difficult to hear,
and it is not a strange sound;
we know its compelling rhythms all too well,
because it is, after all, the sound of your voice.
You fill every tear with your nail-scarred presence,
and breathe into every gasp,
your comforting Spirit.
And in every broken voice, you call,
inviting us to find you
in the weeping.
Thank you for the grace that shouts
in the pain of our world,
and that teaches us to listen for life
in the sound of tears.
(Source: John van de Laar)

Blessing and Commissioning
In the presence of one another, we pledge ourselves to ending the violence of rape and sexual assault, working towards a vision of a healed community where all can live in dignity and peace.
We acknowledge the reality of rape and sexual violence, a plague that brings hopelessness and fear to our sisters and brothers.
We stand in solidarity with those who have been victims. We promise to be open to their stories, and with the grace of God, to listen without judgment.
We know the promise of wholeness, and hope that Jesus came to bring to the world.
We affirm the promise of God’s love for all the survivors in our world, those whose stories are known to us, and those whose stories are still shrouded in silence and fear.
We know that we have not done enough, that we have been silent when those around us have been struggling.
We look forward with hope, trusting in God’s ability to give us strength to listen with courage, and to be silent no longer.
We believe that the future depends on us.
We believe that there is something we can, and must do, as people of the Good News, and as members of one human family, to end the violence of rape and sexual assault.
We recognize that we cannot do this alone. We know we must learn to depend on each other, and on God, in the struggle to end sexual violence, and create justice.
Gracious God, help us to be aware of your loving disruption of our lives. Give us the courage to work with you, and with each other, to transform our hurting world. Empower us with your Spirit that we might break the silence of sexual violence. Help us listen and move together from fear and pain towards your realm of peace and justice. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
(Source: Rev Moira Finley, BTSS 2017)

Music: Living in the light
A light is gleaming, spreading its arms throughout the night
Living in the light
Come share the gladness
God’s radiant light is burning bright
Living in the light.

When light comes pouring into the darkest place,
It hurts our eyes to see the glow.
Sometimes a word of hope reminds us of our fears,
Our memories and tears. Chorus

When night is round us and every shadow grows,
A star is there to light our way.
It tells a story of Jesus who came near to say:
“God’s light will ever stay.” Chorus

And Jesus showed us a brighter path to walk.
He showed us things we hadn’t seen.
Now we, like Jesus, can help creation shine,
And this will be a sign: Chorus

So let us live in the brightness God has giv’n,
And let us rise to see the dawn.
We trust that God is here asparkle and ablaze,
Warming all our days.” Chorus
(Source: Linnea Good. Check it out on Spotify).

Music: God of creation (tune: Morning Has Broken)
God of Creation
Gentle life-giver
Present at birth, and
all through our days
Author of sunrise
Song in the night sky
Here in this place, we
offer our praise

Jesus, Companion
teacher and healer
friend of the grieving,
suffering, the poor
Stand with your people
whisper among us
promise of mercy
goodness for all

Spirit of Comfort
blow through Creation
stir up new life, breathe
peace through our world
Healer of hearts, and
hope for tomorrow
weave all our sorrows
into new dawn
(Words: Craig Mitchell, Mountain Masala)

History of Hymns: “We Cannot Measure How You Heal”
Mr. Bell wastes no time in getting to the point of what he wants us to say. From the very first lines it is obvious that this hymn is about healing. In the last lines of stanza one, the RHisev. Bell writes that God’s healing can occur in all times; in the present struggle, in death, and in the lives of those that have not been born.
In stanza two, Bell describes our pain, guilt, fear, agony, hurt, and haunting memories.
The pain that will not go away,
the guilt that clings from things long past,
the fear of what the future holds,
are present as if meant to last.

But present too is love, which tends
the hurt we never hoped to find,
the private agonies inside,
the memories that haunt the mind.

Through the use of anaphora, a poetic device where consecutive lines begin with the same word or phrase, he develops a rhythm that throbs, pulsing the very pain we are experiencing. At the center of this stanza there is a turn from distress to healing through love.
Both the first and last stanza embrace the pains of stanza two with healing hands that “hold, heal and warn,” even through “the touch of friends.” This powerful image of the immediate presence of God in humanity is not uncommon in the Rev. Bell’s hymns. Many times his poetry illustrates the incarnation in even the most simple actions or images.
It is common for John Bell to compose new music or arrange an existing melody for his hymns. YE BANK AND BRAES is a good example of how a Scottish folk tune relates the text to the experience of ordinary people. He also constructs the stanzas in such a way that the climax of the melody coincides with the description of how and what God will heal.

2019 BTSS resources (USA)



About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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