26 March 2019

Gathering Music

Welcome

Kirsten E. M. Trambley

Opening Prayer

Kirsten E. M. Trambley

One: In what is termed as “the era of the #MeToo movement”
Many: We resist sexual violence
One: In a time when consent is not respected
Many: We refuse to let this be an accepted norm
One: In a global context where former comfort women still feels the wounds of their pain
Many: We demand people to be held accountable for their actions
One: In a location in which the communication surrounding Title IX processes have been rightfully questioned
Many: We cry against a lack of clarity
One: In a government where US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo likens the misogynistic, sexist, white supremacist Donald Trump to the biblical figure of Esther as a savior for the people being marginalized and harmed
Many: We denounce his misuse and reign of power
One: Maybe you and I were called to stand against these cruelties
Many: “For such a time as this”

“We Resist”

Reading

Modern Testimony from a Former Comfort Women

Alisyn Klock

When 17-year-old Lee Yong-soo returned home to South Korea in 1945 after being forced to serve in a brothel for Japanese troops, her family, having given her up for dead, thought she was a ghost. Lee Yong-soo is 90 years old and is one of less than 30 known surviving South Korean victims of Japan’s wartime brothels.

“When I returned, I had a deep wound,” Lee told Reuters. “I thought I was going to die,” she said of the abuse and torture she endured in a brothel at an airfield in Taiwan used by Japanese kamikaze pilots in the final years of World War Two. Lee says she feels like a sincere apology from Japanese authorities for the wartime exploitation of so-called “comfort women” is no nearer now than when she returned home more than 70 years ago.

Some historians estimate 30,000 to 200,000 Korean women were forced into prostitution during Japan’s occupation from 1910 to 1945, in some cases under the pretext of employment or to pay off a relative’s debt. The term “comfort women” is a wartime euphemism translated from Japanese for the women, many from Korea, who were forced into prostitution and sexually abused at Japanese military brothels before and during World War Two.

A sense of shame and secrecy meant most tales of abuse and coercion at the brothels for Japanese troops were never discussed publicly, until Kim Hak-sun, one of the South Korean victims, came forward in 1991. She and two other former comfort women joined a class action lawsuit against Japan, which prompted the Japanese government to acknowledge its role for the first time in 1993. The case was eventually dismissed by Japan’s highest courts in 2004. Lee was one of the survivors emboldened by Kim’s move, and has since worked to raise awareness.

Many South Koreans see the issue as unresolved because of what they consider a lack of sincerity from the Japanese government. Despite apologies from Japan, for example, the first comfort women fund was criticized in South Korea for not being direct compensation from the state, and a deal in 2015 was faulted for failing to include a clear statement of the Japanese government’s legal responsibility.

In the past year, South Korea has opened a new research center aimed at consolidating academic study of comfort women, named the first Comfort Women Day and unveiled a new memorial in Cheonan, a city south of Seoul. “We cannot ignore the truth just because it hurts,” President Moon Jae-in said this week. “For the sake of sustainable and solid Korea-Japan relations, we must face up to the truth.”

Lee said she was 16 when she was forcibly taken to Taiwan by a Japanese man in a “sort of military uniform”. When she first balked at entering the brothel, she said she was beaten and tortured with electric shocks. She was released in 1945, after about two years as a captive. “The survivors of the heinous crimes the Japanese committed are dying day by day, and I bet Abe is dancing for joy,” Lee said, becoming animated as she described her frustration. “They should apologize, tell the truth, and pay the legal compensation.”

Hymn

“Hear Our Cries” v.1

Tune: Doragi Taryung (Korean Traditional Music)
Lyrics: written by Hayoung Kang

I cry out to the world, “Me too. I have sur-vived.”
Des-pite the fear and pain, I have sus-tained.
Hear my cry, small yet strong, that has been for-got-ten.
Here I am, dear my child, though you walk a dar-kest road,
I’m with you. I com-fort you all the way.

Reading

Purim is a traditional Jewish holiday that includes comedic reenactments of the tale of Esther, partying and excessive drinking, and carnivals and masquerades (cite: Jewish Study Bible, Adele Berlin). It derives from the text of Esther, a story in which a young girl is taken from her home to be trafficked in order to serve the king as his sex slave, under the guise of being the queen of Persia. As a Jew who withholds her identity until the timing is right, she subverts his power by standing for her people when they face imminent massacre, culminating in a wild celebration known as Purim, or the casting of lots.

The text is taken from Esther 2:1-4, 7-8, 15, 17 NRSV Tanakh.

“(1) Some time afterward, when the anger of King Ahaseurus subsided, he thought of Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. (2) The king’s servants who attended him said, ‘Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for Your Majesty. (3) Let Your Majesty appoint officers in every province of your realm to assemble all the beautiful young virgins at the fortress Shushan, in the harem under the supervision of [Hegai], the king’s eunuch, guardian of the women. Let them be provided with cosmetics. (4) And let the maiden who pleases Your Majesty be queen instead of Vashti.’ The proposal pleased the king, and he acted upon it.

(7) [Mordecai] was foster father to Hadassah – that is, Esther – his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The maiden was shapely and beautiful; and when her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter.

(8) When the king’s order and edict was proclaimed, and when many girls were assembled in the fortress Shushan under the supervision of Hegai, Esther too was taken into the king’s palace under the supervision of Hegai, guardian of the women.

(15) When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail – the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his own daughter – to go to the king, she did not ask for anything but what Hegai, the king’s eunuch, guardian of the women, advised. Yet Esther won the admiration of all who saw her.

(17) The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she won his grace and favor more than all the virgins. So he set a royal diadem on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

“Hear Our Cries” v.2

Sis-ters step out from the dark, “Please lis-ten to our groans:
O-ccu-pied, sup-pressed, and ta-ken from home.”
Hear our cries, stand with us. Let’s hold our hands in hands.
Here I am, dear my child, though you walk a dar-kest road,
I’m with you. I com-fort you all the way.

Homily

“Tragedy and Transformation of Korean Comfort Girls-Women”

The Rev. Dr. Angella Son

Psalm 82:3-4 NRSV

(3) Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
(4) Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

“Hear Our Cries” v.3

We pro-claim to the world, “Let jus-tice roar and roar,
Right-eous-ness soar and soar, and love neigh-bors”
Hear our cries, change the world. Let’s jour-ney to-ge-ther.
Here I am, dear my child, though you walk a dar-kest road,
I’m with you. I com-fort you all the way.

Artistic Ritual

Brinna Kolitz and Kirsten E. M. Trambley

As we proclaim “Me, too” and “I have survived;” and as we sustain through the fear and pain – we trust that our cries are heard by the God who holds us in our difficult times and transforms us to change the world.

With the upcoming Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we would like to co-create a work of art to share within our community throughout April. This stained glass of sorts is outlined in teal, the color chosen to represent survivors. We encourage you to paint a piece of the glass as you leave as a commitment to stand for awareness and prevention of sexual assault.

Sung Response

Sending

Alisyn Klock

As continued acts of education and solidarity, we invite you to continue attending events addressing similar topics to tonight. Tomorrow at noon, Dr. Son will hold a lecture in Seminary Hall 101. On Wednesday, April 24 at 12:00 p.m. in Seminary Hall 101, Carrie Granche will host a talk on Sexual Assault Myths and Facts.

Remember to paint a piece of the glass as you leave, and grab some food to go on your way out. Let us show signs of peace as we leave this evening, respecting the physical and emotional boundaries of those around us.


Worship Notes:

Opening Prayer, Purim Description, Sending Forth written by Kirsten E. M. Trambley

First Reading: adapted from an article published by Reuters that was published this past November by Josh Smith and Haejin Choi (not read: adapted by Kirsten E. M. Trambley) .https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-japan-comfortwomen/south-koreas-surviving-comfort-women-spend-final-years-seeking-atonement-from-japan-idUSKCN1NS024

Hear Our Cries: lyrics written by Hayoung Kang

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