Pentecost 7 Year B

Sermon

Pentecost 7  Year B

Mark 6:14-29

King Herod heard of Jesus and his disciples, 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.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

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. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 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. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee.

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.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.”

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.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

 

Prayer: In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy

Spirit….

 

 

Sermon:

Today’s Gospel is a little bit gory.

I’m thinking of John’s head on a platter, presented to a “girl”i.

 

 

It’s a reminder that life didn’t mean much 2000 years ago.

Well, I’d guess that a person’s own life meant a lot.

But, maybe, other people’s lives weren’t all that important.

Look what they did to Jesus. And to his cousin, John.ii

 

 

John the Baptist was an enigmatic kind of guy.iii

He ate bugs, wore animal skins, and baptized people in the snow melt, Jordan river water.

 

John the Baptist was really a strange guy.

But God uses all kinds of people to do His work.

Teachers. Physicians. Carpenters.

Politicians. Dishwashers. Moms and Dads.

 

 

Johniv was the last great Biblical prophet.v He was strange, but special.

He mattered then and he still matters now. vi

 

John insisted that people repent of their sins, and be baptized.

And even though he reminded people of their sins, The crowds still liked him.

But the Political and Temple leaders didn’t.

 

 

They must’ve figured out that John’s preaching about a Messiah,

Might turn people’s eyes away from the Temple sacrifices, and cut into the cash flow that lined

the Big Dog’s pockets. vii

 

 

But, even when he must have known they were after him,

John kept on talking about the Messiah and Sin and all that.

 

 

John took big risks. He wasn’t even careful.

He did his Baptizing thing in front of the whole world! viii

 

 

“Repent”, John said, “for the kingdom of heaven has come near”.ix

Imagine that icy-cold water rushing up your back!

It couldn’t have been fun, but still,

folks stepped up, repented and got dunked! x

 

 

“Repent”, John said.

Repentance is not revealed by what we say. Repentance is revealed by what we do.

 

Repentance is about choosing a new path, and a new way of living.

Repentance isn’t about some special action.

Repentance is about change.

 

 

Repentance isn’t about saying some magic prayer.

Repentance is about choosing a new way to live. xi

And then, following that new path.

 

 

Repentance is about our individual decisions.

Repentance begins when each of us chooses to be, whatever it is that God asks us to be.

 

Who is God asking you to be? xii

Everybody has to start somewhere. Each of us has to choose.

And sometimes we have to wait for God’s answer.

Sometimes we have to work while we wait.

 

 

In John the Baptist’s day,

God’s Chosen People had been waiting for 700 yearsxiii.

Some wondered if John was the Messiah. Good question.

They’d ask John, “Who are you?”

But he never answered.

He just said, “You’d better prepare!”

So, that’s what we must do.

 

What are we supposed to prepare for?

The End of the World? The Rapture?xiv

Nope. I don’t think so. What comes will come.

That’s the future, and the Future is God’s hands.

 

 

Meanwhile, we live in the present.

And in this Present moment, Jesus calls us to do His work.

It is for that work, which we must be prepared.

 

 

We must, as individuals, and as a church,

must ask God who we are called to be.

We must listen for the Answer.

And while we wait, we must prepare.

And when we hear the Answer, we must move forward.xv

 

 

Who are we called to be? What work is the Lord calling us to do? xvi

We must ask those questions and prayerfully await God’s guidance.

 

But while we wait, and while the details are forming,

Let’s talk about we already know: We call ourselves Christians.

We say that the world will know us by our love.

 

Because we call ourselves Christian’s,

We’ve committed to proclaiming God’s Kingdom, to each person’s whose life we touch.

 

Because we call ourselves Christian’s,

We’ve committed to building up the people around us.

Beginning with our neighbors, right here in Killeen.

No matter their sinsxvii, or age, or gender, or race, or political party.

 

Because we call ourselves Christian’s, We’ve committed to faithfully living,

like Jesus’ Kingdom really matters.

 

 

Because we call ourselves Christian’s,

We’ve committed to build his Kingdom, on the foundation that our parent’s laid,

With whatever resources God has given us.

Each of us must lend a hand.

 

Because we call ourselves Christian’s,

Each of us must work to build a Godly community, right here,

With our prayers, our money, our hearts, our hands and our love.xviii

 

Because we call ourselves Christian’s,

We must reveal our faith by what we say and how we live.xix

 

 

We reveal Jesus’s Truth when we help feed the hungry.

 

 

We reveal Jesus’s Truth when we shelter and advocate, for the poor and downtrodden.

 

We reveal Jesus’s Truth when we protect the traveler, bind up the ill and the distressed, and

when we turn the other cheek.

 

 

2000 years ago, Jesus showed us who he was called to be.xx

And today we must ask, who we are called to be?

Let’s all work together, to answer that question.

 

 

Who are we called to be?

 

 

-AMEN

 

 

 

 

i …according to the Scripture.

 

ii Thins aren’t all that different today. Worse, actually, since technology gives humanity immense food production; while many in the 2/3rd world starve, the Western world eats itself into oblivion. On the one hand, while the UN estimates that 25,000 people starve to death every day. https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/losing-25000-hunger-every-day, the National Institutes of Health reveals obesity as the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Indeed, obesity causes an estimated 300,000 deaths per year, in the US. See, West Virginia Health Statistic Center report at https://www.wvdhhr.org/bph/oehp/obesity/mortality.htm

 

iii Kind of hard to figure out. Back then and even now.

 

iv The son of Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, who was married to Zechariah, a Priest. Both are said, by Luke, to be righteous and “blameless” in observing the Lord’s commandments and ordinances. Until becoming pregnant with John, Elizabeth was “barren”; she and her husband were both “well advanced in years” when John was born. (See, Luke 1:5–7).

 

v I am not including Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen!

 

vi He was so important, that all four Gospels mention him.

 

vii You gotta ask: was John killed over money? I don’t know. Maybe. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

viii Dunking people in the icy cold River Jordan was a wonderful way to get attention, even though it was kind of an obvious place. The Jordan was (and is?) the chief river in Palestine, flowing 200 miles, north to south, just east of Jerusalem. Folks gathered there all the time.

 

ix Matthew intentionally ties John the Baptist into Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah, in describing John as “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ” However, to do so, Matthew intentionally misquoted Isaiah, whose book actually says, “A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3, NRSV).

 

x The Greek word for repentance is μετάνοια (metanoia) , i.e., according to Easton’s Bible Dictionary-

 

“Metanoeo, meaning to change one’s mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge. This verb, with the cognate noun metanoia, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised.”

 

xi Preparing for the Messiah, to come into your life.

 

xii Who are you, as a Christian?

 

 

 

xiii Isaiah wrote the 66 chapters of his book, between roughly 740 and 686 BCE.

 

xiv Well maybe, I guess. Especially if you want to see a million dollars’ worth of books!

 

xv God has a mission for each of us. God has a mission for St. Christopher’s. God calls each person and generation. And God waits, for us to answer His call.

 

xvi 2000 years ago, John proclaimed, “One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; One God and Father of all.” God called His people through John’s proclamation. But, today, that proclamation is God’s call to each of us.

 

xvii We all sin. And Jesus went to the cross for each one of us.

 

xviii Because we call ourselves Christian’s, we must joyfully and dutifully, live out God’s proclamation, whatever that looks like.

 

xix We are the Church, sent out as a public witness, To share love, to show love, and to faithfully live the Good News, In our every word and every action.

 

xx Jesus revealed who he was when he ministered both to bodies and to souls, when he spoke and acted, judged and loved, doing the work he was sent to do.