A reflection for the 11th July 2021
Sixth Sunday after Trinity 2021

Listen Here
Offered for Sunday 11th July 2021


Stephen

Reflections Script

'Sixth Sunday after Trinity 2021'

Compiled 10th July 2021


There is a famous and wonderfully comic sequence
in the 1940's Walt Disney's film Fantasia! It begins with a
sorcerer conjuring a beautiful butterfly out of his cauldron,
while his apprentice, Mickey Mouse, draws endless pails of water.
When the sorcerer takes a break, Mickey is quick to take advantage.
Putting on the sorcerer's magic hat, he casts a spell on a broom
and directs it to fetch and carry the pails of water.

Pleased at his own ingenuity, Mickey Mouse sits back and puts his
feet up. It goes well, until he realises that he doesn't know
how to stop the broom. He panics as the water level begins to
rise, eventually chopping the broom into pieces. For a moment
everything goes quiet and Mickey breathes a sigh of relief.

But his relief turns to horror as he watches the pieces of the
broom come back to life, reconstitute themselves and resume
fetching water.
Order is finally restored when the sorcerer returns and Mickey
is rewarded with a smart kick up the backside.

In Mark 6: 14 to 29 we read about a troubled and guilty Herod,
agitated by reports of the healing and teaching that Jesus
is doing in the towns and villages.
Some claim John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
others that Elijah or one of the Old Testament prophets
has returned.

But Herod has no doubts v16:
"John, whom I beheaded, has been raised."
Through the rest of the passage we discover, in flashback,
the events leading up to this point.

John's criticism of Herod and his marital arrangements led to
Herod imprisoning the prophet. But Herod was in awe of John,
"knowing that he was a righteous and holy man... he protected him."


Let us Pray


Lord of our lives:
strengthen us when we are weak,
guard us when we are strong,
renew us when we have lost our vision,
give us humility when we are proud;
grant that we may serve you with joy
and fulfil your purposes with delight;
deepen our faith as we proclaim
the good news of the kingdom of
our Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen



Address


"They find ways of getting rid of you when you
get old," muttered an elderly church P.C.C member.

There'd been a heated debate in a P.C.C. meeting and the
Chairman ruled the elderly member out of order and moved on
to the next business.
The elderly member sat in stunned silence for a while, but once
he had gathered his wits, stormed out of the meeting.

After that there was nowhere for him to go.
He resigned with a bad grace, blaming the Chairman for his
resignation and telling everyone who would listen that
he had been forced out.

How dangerous it is when we feel the need to save face,
especially if we have backed ourselves into a corner,
for then we have nowhere to go.
We deny ourselves any room to manoeuvre,
blaming someone else for our dilemma.

Herod Antipas was the youngest son of Herod the Great who,
as recorded in Matthews Gospel, murdered all the baby boys in
Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth, causing Mary, Joseph and
the infant Jesus to flee into Egypt;
and Herod Antipas' mother was a Samaritan, so Herod was never
accepted as their rightful king by the people of Galilee over
whom he ruled.

They regarded him as an imposter, a puppet king, controlled
by the Romans. What is more, Herod had divorced his first wife
in order to illegally marry Herodias, who had formerly been
married to his brother Philip.

This was the relationship, denounced in the Old Testament book
of Leviticus, which John the Baptist publicly condemned
which led to John's arrest.

Although he was known as a vicious tyrant, Herod was not all bad.
As a talented architect he was responsible for many fine
buildings and cities, some of which can still be seen today.
He built the city of Tiberias on the shore of Lake Galilee,
a city which became a centre of rabbinic education.

He also built a great aqueduct to carry water across the desert
and was responsible for much of the enlarging and rebuilding
of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Despite John the Baptist's denouncement of Herod's adultery,
Herod seems to have been fascinated by John.
We're told Herod liked to listen to John and recognised John's
spirituality. Herod was quite happy to keep John in prison where
he could talk with him from time to time.

Herod's wife Herodias was the one who resented John's outspoken
words and wanted to remove the irritation by having John executed.
But Herod refused to agree. Although John was helpless and
vulnerable in prison, Herod feared him; therefore protected him.<

But Herodias spotted her opportunity, because she knew Herod's
weaknesses. It was Herod's birthday, so celebrations in the form
of a lavish birthday party for the royal court were the order
of the day. As part of the entertainment, Herodias' daughter,
Salome, danced for the king.

The young girl performed a sensual, erotic dance which so
enthralled Herod, in front of all his important guests,
he promised Salome the moon.

Salome then run to her mother for advice and Herodias instructed
Salome to request the head of John the Baptist on a plate.

Herod was stuck. His promise to the girl had been loud,
public and proud, enabling his wife to neatly back him
into a corner. Either he kept his promise and had John executed,
or he lost face with his guests.

Since it was dangerous for a ruler to show any signs of weakness,
Herod chose to keep his promise. But it did not end there.
When people began to talk about Jesus and his amazing powers,
Herod's first thought was that John the Baptist had come back
to haunt him.

Herod was distressed by his own actions.
His pride and vanity had held him captive so that he had done
something he did not want to do.
And the distress caused by his actions remained with him.

The elderly church P.C.C. member was distressed, too.
He had always enjoyed the council meetings,
but his pride and vanity had held him captive so he too had
done something he did not want to do;
and his distress remained with him also, for his actions caused
a deepening rift between himself and the other members
of the council.

The only way to avoid the distress caused by this sort of sin is
to learn humility, just as Jesus showed us through his death
on the cross.
Jesus refused to defend himself no matter what happened to him.
Perhaps we too need to discover humility in ourselves.



To Summarise

The elderly PCC member backed himself into a
corner by storming out of the meeting.
Herod had been denounced by John the Baptist for his adultery
and subsequent marriage with his brother's wife, Herodias.?
At his birthday party, Herod allowed himself to be backed
into a corner from which there was no escape.
The sin of pride has distressing consequences
which do not easily depart.

Through his death on the cross Jesus showed us the way of
humility, the only way to loosen pride's grip.



Our Blessing


May God, who calls you to holiness,
keep you strong in standing for what is right.
May Christ, who encourages you to seek the kingdom,
show you the way of righteousness.
May the Holy Spirit,
whose gift is courage,
fill you with fresh hope and resolve to
live in the light of God.
And the blessing of God almighty....


group