Collect and Readings for The Sixth Sunday after Trinity 11h July 2021 Year B – 2 Samuel 6:1-5.12b-19, Amos 7:7-15, Psalm 24, Psalm 85: 8-end, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:14-23;
The Prayer for today Merciful God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding: pour into our hearts such love toward you that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Today's readings smash any suspicions we might have had that walking God's way is a comfortable option for wimps. We hear story after story of the reality- that those who speak out God's will are quite likely to find themselves rejected and abused, insulted and scorned. Perhaps Bibles should have a safety warning pasted into the front cover: 'Following the God you meet through these pages is usually dangerous'. We hear of King David dancing with all his might before the Lord in an uninhibited outpouring of love and worship to God as the holy ark is brought into Jerusalem. The glamorous Michal's scorn as she watches him will sound familiar to many young christians at school or university, who often have to suffer the pitying scorn of the glamorous because of their faith. They badly need our constant prayer support and encouragement.
We hear of Amos, told to push off and go back to his farming because he spoke out a message from God which his listeners did not want to hear. Never mind how right and wise God's advice is, those brave enough to speak it, when a community or a relationship needs changing, are bound to be treated as attackers, and are frequently fended off aggressively, at least initially. As a species we do not take criticism positively, but beat it off at all costs, even though it can help us grow. It is a mark of great maturity to be able to welcome criticism in order to learn from it.
In today's Gospel we find John the Baptist has been speaking out the dangerous truth to Herod, pointing out what God's will is and is not. Herod is pulled in two directions – both towards a liberating eternal relationship with the living God, and towards personal power, wealth, gratification and popularity which spell short-term satisfaction and death. It is the latter he chooses, urged on by Herodias' aggressive resentment of John's meddling in their lives. Yet although John has been beheaded as a true prophet for faithfully speaking out God's word, the disciples are scattered over the countryside in pairs, preaching repentance and the kingdom for all they are worth!
We need to pray for the courage to speak out as God's people, and get on with the work we have been chosen to do, however we are received. All too often the first hint of opposition or waning popularity shuts us up, and we persuade ourselves that we shouldn't mention such things again. But if the early Church had followed a similar line, how many of us would ever have heaard the good news of God's love?
Some questions for you to reflect on:
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson