URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 7th May 2024

Tuesday 7th May 2024
 
Reading:  Exodus 6:  5-6

I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the Israelites, “I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgement.

Reflection

Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ invites us to ‘free ourselves from mental slavery’.  It’s a positive vibe that has spoken to many over the years.  It also served to underscore my assumption that I could relate to the Hebrew slaves, as one redeemed from slavery.  It was not for many years later, I began to understand that by happenstance of my place of birth (England), my identity was also that of the Egyptians; that I had benefited from being a citizen of a country that had profited from the slave trade.  Eventually, I was able to name my privilege and begin to understand how I could try to use that as a tool for social justice.

Now I am seeing firsthand how the obstinate roots of exploitative systems of colonialism and indentured labour are as hard to weed out as the giant bindweeds that choke hillsides here in Fiji. 

Exploitative systems are so invasive that they take root in the minds of those exploited; intergenerational traumas’ rotten fruits poison faith, culture, and relationships, continuing the cycle of abuse.  Practices and habits of colonial Christianity are so enculturated in parts of the Pacific that the exploited have become the exploiter.  Hierarchical cultural customs mixed with patriarchal Christianity perpetuates inequalities in society even today.

Women stay with abusive husbands on the basis that, as a man is ordained as head of the household, martial rape and violence are to be endured; that is the lot of a faithful Christian wife.  Suffering is a blessing… faithful prayer will heal… God’s hand must be in the fist. 

Women explain that they are grateful that they have endured years of abuse as they are better for having endured.  If the abuser eventually repents, the suffering was worthwhile as it has led to their abuser’s redemption.  The idea of fullness of life or God’s Kindom being in the now-and-not-yet are sidelined; to accept that their pain is not inevitable undermines whatever coping mechanisms they have.

Prayer 

Free your children from the mental slavery 
of exploitative systems that perpetuate 
intergenerational abuse and cruelty.
May the perpetrators be released 
from the false power paradigm that causes them to sin.
May those oppressed lift their voices, 
cry out to you, and find fulness of life.
Untangle the root-ball of the exploited and exploiters 
so that the systems of colonialism and neo-colonialism 
are weeded out to be burned in the fire. 
Amen.
 

 

Today’s writer

The Revd Melanie Smith is a URC minister serving as Director of the Centre for Gender and Social Justice at Pacific Theological College in Fiji.

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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