Friday, July 10, 2015

Devotional 7-10-15

This week's lectionary readings ranged from King David's exuberant joy in returning the ark of the covenant (the presence of God) to the city of Jerusalem; to David's Psalm proclaiming God's holiness and sovereignty over all creation; to Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, exhorting them to remain strong in their faith because they have been adopted as children of God; to Mark's Gospel which records people's responses to the miracles and healings performed by Jesus and His disciples. I'm sure there is a common thread in this mix of Scripture… I just can't seem to grasp it… try as I might.  As a consequence, I've chosen to focus on one portion of the Gospel reading, which is quite jolting after reading the first 16 verses of Mark 6.
Mark tells of some people saying, "'John the baptizer has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.'  But others said, 'It is Elijah.' And others said, 'It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.'  But when Herod heard of it, he said, 'John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.'" (Mark 6:14b-16).
"For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her.  For John had been telling Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.' And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him.  But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him.  When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him." (Mark 6:17-20)
Wait a minute…what???  Herod recognized John's righteousness, his holiness, feared him, imprisoned him, and liked listening to him. Yet Herod let his own self-importance, reputation, and power overcome that small piece of light beginning to appear in his dark soul ("and yet he liked to listen to him."), and allowed himself to be manipulated to the point of having John beheaded!
I believe God, through Jesus Christ, and the indwelling Holy Spirit, has given each of us that wonderfully amazing small piece of light to help us during those dark seasons we all have at one time or another. The causes of the darkness run the entire spectrum of human emotions and human circumstances.  Our response to the darkness is our choice.  Sadly, being human, it is often much easier to indulge in the seductive power of the darkness, which requires no effort to sustain.
Because we have all been adopted into the family of God, we must do everything possible to encourage and enable our little pieces of light to become brighter, so they may help eliminate the dimming of others' pieces of light.  As Jesus reminds us, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40).
My prayer is for us all to be aware of each member of our holy family – of each other's little piece of light. When there is a dimming, offer a piece of your light, and, in the giving, I'm sure your light and my light will burn a little brighter. 
Linda Summers

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