Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | July 13, 2018

Lectionary Reflection: The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Psalm 24; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29

Our readings today offer us very different notions of what a ruler is supposed to look like and do. We see David showing his unrestrained joy before God, dancing “with all his might” before the ark. He is surrounded on all sides by shouting and singing, and joins in with no restraint or stress. He shares the abundance he feels and the wealth he controls, in good things to eat and to do for everyone.  

Herod, with all the machinery of the Roman state at his back, should feel more secure, less vulnerable than the former shepherd boy, but his actions are narrowed by fear and worry about how he appears to others. He “must” kill someone whose holiness he is dimly, persistently aware of — because of what others might think of him and his authority if he reneges on a foolish after-dinner pledge.

Why do some of the powerful and the privileged seem to fear so much? None of us are rulers on this scale, but where do our own love of comforts and control keep us from abandoning ourselves to full-throated celebration and welcome? Where are we tempted to see someone as too uncomfortable, too problematic to be fully human and deserving of life and freedom? Are we willing to take on the foolishness of being at the head of the parade, dancing and singing with all our might?

Carol James has been part of the cathedral community for over a decade. She has served as a co-mentor in the Education for Ministry program. She currently leads the evening prayer providers in the Jail Ministry and is a cathedral staff member.

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