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Monday, July 13, 2009

Church news, 7/14/09

As Voice-in-Wilderness becomes a more active blog, we're working out a schedule for regular weekly posts. For starters, every Tuesday we'll post a short summary of parish news, and on Fridays we'll offer some food for thought that could be an essay, a book review, or a link to another blog we like. Here's this week's church news:

On Sunday, 7/12, we welcomed newcomers and old friends along with our "regulars". Fr. David's sermon title was "Spiritual Truth v. Superstition and Fear". It was based on the account of the death of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Mark 6:14-29. Mark explains that as Jesus manifested miraculous powerrs to people, they had a superstitious reaction, "twittering" that this must be due to Elijah, or maybe John the Baptist back from the dead.

Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee and son of Herod the Great, went along with the superstitious crowd and was afraid as he concluded that this was the "reappearance" of John whom he was responsible for beheading. John had boldly told Herod the Truth that he was violating Jewish law to marry Herodias, the former wife of his brother Philip. Herod resented this criticism of his chosen lifestyle even though he knew John was a righteous and holy man and was telling the truth.

Herodias, an ambitious and ruthless person, eventually forced her husband to order John's execution in order to fulfil a frivolous promise made to her daughter in front of dinner guests. Rather than repenting and changing his lifestyle, Herod chose to follow through on his ill-founded oath. Paradoxically, by trying to appear as a man of honor to his guests, Herod behaved with complete dishonor. Yet for a time he felt he had "gotten away with it" -- his wife was pleased, he had managed to add luster to his reputation, and politically it was astute.

However, both Herod and Herodias forgot the universal truth that we are all in the presence of God at all times, and therefore there's no "getting away with". In less than 20 years, Herodias would goad Herod to travel to Rome and demand a kingship from Emperor Caligula. Caligula didn't care for the idea, exiling Herod and Herodias to France where they died a few years later. His superstition and fear about the power exhibited by Jesus had led Herod to deny spiritual truth and suffer dearly for it. Spiritual Truth and Peace are to be found in the presence of God which we enter through repentance of needing to 'have it our own way' and faith in God and having it His Way.... "The power of living," Fr. David concluded, "is in the presence of God."

NOTES: We'll worship with Reformation Lutheran in the upstairs sanctuary on Sunday, July 26th. Fr. David will be the guest preacher. On Tuesday, August 11th, the Women's Book Group will meet (details to follow). Books to be discussed include Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner and Mean Girls by Hayley DiMarco.

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