Sundays at Harvard-Epworth

 Worship AT 10:00 AM IN-PERSON AND on Youtube  

A Reflection by Rev. Barbara Lemmel

(A note: this reflection from Steve Garnaas-Holmes is on Mark 6:14-29, a lectionary reading that we’re not planning to explore in worship this Sunday.  Still, Steve’s reflection on Mark 6 is too powerful not to share, especially in these days of fraught political and cultural news.  May it nurture your spirit “for the living of these days.”)

            In Mark 6 John the Baptizer criticizes Herod
           for marrying his own sister in law,
           who, of course, resents John.
           Herod’s daughter pleases him with a dance.
           He offers her whatever she asks. Mom says, “John’s head.”
           Herod complies.

It has all the sordid ingredients of a sinister thriller.
Power. Bitterness. Shame.
A whistleblower jailed.
Family dysfunction. Politics.
Wine, women and debauchery. Violence.
And a sexy dance number.

Doesn’t sound like a very good Bible story, does it?
But this is not a detour from the gospel;
this is the context of the gospel.
This is the realm where the mercy of God works,
where courageous faith in God’s grace
meets the crass violence of this world.
This is where the gentle followers of Jesus
work their love and courage.

We wish we lived in a peaceful world
with small problems.
But the world gives selfishness and fear great power,
and they kill people.
People do what they know is wrong
till they don’t know any more, and they do harm.
And we live among them—not by default,
but precisely because they need us,
and we have been given to them.
This word needs humility, generosity and grace.
For every Herod it needs a thousand Christs.
To this, for this, we are sent.
In the end, grace shall prevail.
But be aware, it will be hard in the meantime.