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Public Grief that Inspires Action


Well I can’t say that this week you know the reading. In fact, even Kelly didn’t know this reading and that’s saying something. If you get the chance to read this before Sunday, please do, the more times we get to read this through the better we will begin to understand it. We’re in 2nd Samuel, in the days of King Saul and then King David. We’re days of cruelty and war, where people are punished to prove a point and are displayed so that all may learn from that point. This sort of history is not really that foreign to us, just look at the history we have behind us. The Romans, the European conquerors, the crusades, slave owners, soldiers guarding and watching convicts, penal colonies in general, the wars, Hilter, we have an amazingly dark and violent past when we actually stop and think about it. But it is more than just past. Think of the places around the world at the moment. Things like Black Lives Matter, our treatment of our First Peoples, ISIS, Israel and Palestine, the world can be a dark and violent place. And in amongst all of this we find a mother who cannot leave the death of her sons alone. She watches over and stays with them, showing her grief to all who will see, regardless of the reason for their death. And so King David, a man of so many different emotions and actions, hears of this mother and her very public grief and is moved into action. His action is to retrieve the bones/bodies of these young men and bury them respectfully, bring some end to the endless grief that Rizpah is experiencing. As we look at the all that is going on around us, and we see the grief of those intimately involved, what action are we inspired to take. It may be a protest for all to see, it may be as simple as standing alongside those who are grieving, but surely if we are indeed followers of Christ, we must act, to be silent is wrong. Here are the thoughts of our artist for today: by Lauren Wright Pittman. (inspired by 2 Samuel 3:7; 21:1-14) I don’t know what to say. This story leaves me without adequate ways to fully process the searing pain and utter wrecking of the life of this woman, Rizpah. She is a “low status” wife of Saul. She is raped by a man who denies his actions. Her two sons are sentenced to death as a king fumbles to rectify wrongs that cause a famine in the land. She gathers her sackcloth and climbs the mountain of God to defend the bodies of her children and their half brothers. She spends day and night for up to six months fighting off birds of prey and animals of the night from ripping apart the bodies of her children and what shred of hope she has left. David hears of her passionate, radical, public grief and is moved to delayed justice. He calls for the burial of Saul and Jonathan, but also sees to the proper burial of the seven sons that he carelessly offered up to appease God. Justice in this scenario looks like sheltered, buried, dry bones. Rizpah’s public unraveling causes theunraveling of David’s distorted version of justice. God doesn’t require a human sacrifice for the end of the bloodguilt. God ends the famine when David listens to the voice of this strong, fierce, unraveling woman. I pray that we learn from Rizpah. When we see injustice may we, like Rizpah, climb the mountain of God and defend those who cannot defend themselves. When we see someone unraveling in inexplicable grief, may this sight unravel us from the ways we are entangled with injustice. — Lauren Wright Pittman

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