Archive for July 8th, 2015

Years ago there was a television commercial that shoved a bowl of questionable cereal off on the unsuspecting younger brother, “Let’s get’s Mikey.” Presumably Mikey would taste what no-one else would dare to try and let us know if it was worth trying ourselves. Well, for preachers staring at an unpalatable Biblical text, that person is Barbara Lundblad. She’s a perennial favorite at the Festival of Homiletics, daring to address tough truths like racisms and the context in Ferguson that contributed to the riots, immigration policy, sharing power with minority populations, discrimination of gay people– all those subjects that some preachers shy away from calling them “political.” But she calls them relevant, necessary, Biblical.

So when the gospel lesson this week turned out to be the beheading of John the Baptist, it was a classic case of pushing away the bowl containing that story and passing it off…. “Let’s get Barbara” to taste it….and tell us what we need to know. And indeed she has:

This is a story we don’t want to hear. But we heard it because the lectionary handed it to us. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of the lectionary. It’s enough to know that in many churches, the Sunday readings follow a three-year cycle. So the last time we heard this story was in 2012. We didn’t want to hear the story then either, but this year it sounds even more ominous. When we last heard this story, beheading someone seemed a thing of the past. But now the past is present. We’ve seen pictures of men in orange jumpsuits, kneeling before they were beheaded. We have felt the anguish of families whose sons were beheaded–aid workers, journalists, 21 Coptic Christians. And there are other people whose names we’ll never know, including Iraqi Muslims. Their stories are not in our news.

John’s brutal death did make the news–at least, the biblical news. Mark gives a lot of space to this gruesome story. That’s quite remarkable because Mark usually doesn’t elaborate. Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness gets only two verses in chapter one. Immediately after that story Mark tells us this, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.'” Jesus’ ministry began after John’s arrest. Mark wants us to see that John and Jesus are deeply connected….

You can listen or read the rest of the sermon here day1.org

The truth is always worth a taste.


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