Year B Proper 10 Mark 6 2012
How Life's Pressures Affect Good Judgment
Mark 6:14-29

In the opera Faust, there is a fight to the finish between Satan and the young man Valentine. During the course of the fight, Satan breaks Valentine's sword and he stands poised to slay him. But the young boy takes the two pieces of his sword and fashions them into a cross. Confronted with this symbol of faith, Satan becomes immobilized and Valentine is saved.

It is an interesting concept: A dramatic demonstration of faith. Unfortunately such resolution of faith does not always save you. In fact, it might be your deathbed. It was John's. Take a look at the story with me. John has been arrested by King Herod. And why? Because John kept reminding Herod that even the king is not above the law. He said, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."

So this was the king's egregious sin. He had stolen his brother's wife, Herodias. Now, it would be understandable if this were where the story ended. The king didn't like a desert preacher calling him a sinner so he had him beheaded. Simple enough. But life is not always simple. There is usually more to a story than meets the eye. And in this case we learn that Herod actually liked to listen to John, thought he was a holy man, and protected him. Perhaps, in Herod's mind, putting him under lock and key was a way of removing him from harms way.

So if the king was offended by John's outbursts, it was not enough to warrant death. The king feared the prophet and dared not harm him. But life has a funny way of pressuring us to do things we would not normally do. This is a story about a man who caved due to social pressures. Let me ask you: How do life's pressures affect your judgment? What can we learn form this deplorable moment in the life of this king, this moment when the king caved? We learn that...

  1. Puzzling problems require conscientious decisions
  2. Promises made in haste create great waste
  3. Pressures in life can affect good judgment

When Others Serve Your Head on a Platter
Mark 6:14-29

This summer saw the "resurrection" of an old tale of family rivalry and betrayal. The show that started an industry of prime time "soap operas" is back on the air. Do you know show I'm talking about? . . . . Dallas.

The ever-evil "J.R." Ewing and all his battling, back-biting, embittered family have returned, with new generations, all of whom are admirably carrying on the family tradition of unabated greed and hatred. Added to yet another season of "Kardashians" and the History channel's presentation of "The Hatfields and the McCoys," "family life" is looking pretty grim. That is not even to mention the recent scientific study that put a question mark over the value of nightly meals together as a family. It found that eating together on a regular basis could be bad, not good for teenagers, if the family is dysfunctional. The family routine of eating together is very good for you if the family dynamics are good, very bad for you if the family dynamics are dysfunctional.

But all air-wave examples of families operating at "dysfunction junction" cannot hold a candle to the massive relational meltdown that was taken as "normal" within the first century ruling family of the Herodians... presents Leonard Sweet