Poling Retirement Lecture

In October, 2011, I gave my final retirement lecture at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  It is a reflection about the nature of human evil and redemption according to the witness of survivors in dialogue with Process Theology.  You can view it at the link below. It works well if you have auxiliary speakers, but you could have trouble hearing with only the internal computer speakers. A transcript of this lecture can be found in The Journal of Pastoral Theology, Summer, 2012.

Link to Poling Retirement Lecture: http://www.garrettmedia.net/lectures/fall2011/dr-poling-10-26.mov

Servanthood, Suffering, and Sacrifice

Text: “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

It is a little bit drastic – hiring someone to kill your husband. But after 22 years being battered and sexually abused, Delia was afraid that her children and probably she herself will be killed. She had gone to her mother who said – you made your commitment to this marriage, now you have to make it work. She had gone to the police— who had written a restraining order and kept her husband in jail overnight when he violated it. But he tore it up and threatened to kill her if she did it again. She had gone to the shelter, but her husband found her and threatened to kill her parents. So she did the only other thing she could think of that would get rid of him forever.

In the film, Broken Vows, where Delia tells her story, Marie Fortune said: “Delia’s behavior is not something I condone, nor something I recommend, but her actions are something that I can understand. The community failed her completely and finally she acted in self-defense to save her own life and that of her children.” ((www.faithtrustinstitute.org for more information about Faith Trust Institute and their educational resources. “Broken Vows” is one of their training tapes.)

So I wonder what this scripture about servanthood, suffering and sacrifice might say to Delia. Actually, Delia talked to her priest and he said that divorce was against God’s laws, that women should serve their husbands, and that her suffering and sacrifice could be the channel of salvation for her husband.

When we preach this text, we have to think carefully about who is in the congregation. If a victim of family violence is in my congregation on Sunday and I preach the usual sermon about servanthood, suffering, and sacrifice, I will likely contribute to years of captivity for her and her children. We know that domestic violence often leads to murder, but usually it is the murder of women and children.

See the Full Text of this sermon under Writing>Sermons.