Through the love and grace of Christ, we are sent out into the world to look toward and listen to cries for justice and peace and proclaim the Triune God’s love and healing.
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Lect. 15 B
Text: Amos 7:7-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
It leaves an unsettling feeling. The image of John’s head on a platter.
Reminding us about situations in our lives that leave us unsettled.
A fire burning in the ocean.
A drought and record-breaking temperatures.
A pipeline threatening our watershed.
Homelessness and poverty.
Gun violence across our city.
The headlines of today show us that today’s Gospel reading could easily have been a headline in this morning’s paper: “Man executed after speaking out against the King’s relationship.”
We absorb so much information daily that we have been trained to keep it from touching us, likely a way to cope with all the brokenness around us.
We hear our Gospel lesson for today and we may unknowingly numb the emotions and the message.
Questioning what is wrong with the characters in the story.
Distancing their situation from ours.
Laughing about a birthday party we would never want to attend.
Hearing it and thinking, can a story like this really be the Word of God?
Our emotions and our bodies can only hold so much pain and brokenness happening in society, let alone the pain and grief that we experience in our lives, families, and communities.
The shock of John’s head on a platter leads us to be filled with fear of danger. And perhaps a gut reaction to not want to have anything to do with the message that John is proclaiming.
The challenge then, is to not be swayed by violence and displays of power, but to see what is really going on in the story. John is in jail and he speaks up about injustice and about people in power taking advantage of the law.
Like John, we have inherited the grace and love and courage to see the injustice and oppression happening all around us. And we have been anointed by the Holy Spirit to speak and act against unjust power and oppression.
We see situations in our lives every day and ask ourselves what role we have in it. If we’re following God’s call like John, and like the prophet Amos who we heard from today, we know that we have a part in sharing the love, grace, and hope of the Triune God.
We do this by being who God has created us to be, finding avenues where our skills and talents match with the needs around us as we boldly step in directions that help us to proclaim justice and peace.
We do this by looking around in our community and listening to our neighbors. We do this by transforming our church community and our church building to be a place of hospitality.
So that when we look at the headlines about climate change, we know that we are continuing to strive to do our part and commit to environmental justice. And when we look at the headlines about houselessness and poverty, we know that we are impacting our community by being in relationship with and caring for our neighbors.
To look at the brokenness of the world and listen to the cries for justice around us is going to lead us down a path of discipleship where we continue to be and become people who:
speak truth to power.
speak healing to brokenness.
speak love to hatred.
Speaking not only through our mouths by through our actions that at times are even more powerful than words.
Doing so will lead us down paths that will change us and ask us to step outside our comfort zones. It will cause us to have many unsettling feelings and emotions and we try to discern where we are being called and sent.
But we know that we do not do this alone, we do it in community. Caring for each other and caring for ourselves.
Like the disciples at the end of our Gospel reading who find ways to hold space and grieve, we find ways to lay to rest the brokenness in our lives and hold onto hope and believe with our hearts that God can resurrect and heal the world.
And then we go out to look and listen to the pain and brokenness around us and listen to where God is calling us to be agents of healing and love.
Like the prophets and people called throughout scripture and time, we too are called by God out of who God has created us to be. Perhaps this is the message that Paul is speaking to the Ephesians: Reminding them and reminding us of the love and grace that we have in Christ.
And that this love that we’ve been transformed by is going to send us into places where we see deep brokenness and are called to proclaim love—Love that will always transform.
It leaves an unsettling feeling. The Holy Spirit stirring in our lives.
Reminding us of who we are created to be.
Calling us out into the world to proclaim justice, healing, and love.