Beloved community of friends and siblings,
let’s take a moment to breathe together,
even while we are still apart.
(pause for a breath)
We are in a season of transition.
May God be our constant.
We are making plans and filling our schedules.
May God give us space to rest.
We are not quite out of the storm.
May God give us patience.
We are not all of the same mindset.
May God give us empathy and compassion.
We are not all together – just yet.
So in this time of change and confusion,
may we find direction, comfort, and truth
in the stillness and peace of God’s presence,
And may we find genuine hope, energy, and joy,
so that we can engage with each other and our community,
in this current iteration of eternal life through Christ Jesus.
This we pray in the name
of the triune God,
Holy in One,
We invite you to hear from the Gospel of Mark 6: 14-29.
14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known.
Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead;
and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said,
“It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”
16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been
raised.” 17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him,
and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,
because Herod had married her. 18 For John had been telling Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not,
20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and
he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked
to listen to him. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a
banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee.
22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests;
and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23 And he
solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”
24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 Immediately she rushed back
to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the
Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his
oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.
27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head.
He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and
gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples
heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
The grass withers and the flower fades,
but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Amen.
Homily and Reflection
What are the things that, like Herod’s worldly allegiances, keep you from the allure of holy mystery?
What might help you remember the heart of why Jesus’s name became known—the good news of love?
The wisdom of the Lord is like a garden, healthy,
flourishing and colorful. Created intentionally to
grow what is glorious and good.
You were planted in good soil, meant for your
best, and given everything that you need.
For God so loved the soil that he came just
to spend his evenings in the garden with us.
Beloved, do not fear the gardener.
Do not fear the shears that prune you, nor the bits
and pieces that wither and fall away. Do not even
be afraid of death and decomposition, for even in
death lives the very substance of life and resurrection.
We are planted in the rich soil that tells us the story
of Christ in our growing and withering. Beneath the
earth is black and white, but the garden lives in full color.
Go, and live in the name of
God the Father,
Christ the Son,
and the Holy Spirit.
Go in peace, and live the church.
May you find belonging and community this week.
[Photo by Yang Shuo]