2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah [ba’-al-e-joo’-da], to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. 3 They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab [uh-BIHN-uh-dab], which was on the hill. Uzzah [uz’-a] and Ahio [akh-yo’], the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4 with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. 5 David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
12b So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom [o-bade’ ed-ome] to the city of David with rejoicing; 13 and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14 David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
16 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
17 They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. 18 When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, 19 and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.
Mark 6:14- 29
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
17 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. 18 For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 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. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23 And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
Sermon. July 11, 2021
Rev. John Steitz
An especial challenge of the past year has been to live into our Core Value of Loving Church Family. This core value is based on the Love Commandment – that we are to love another in the same way that Jesus loves us.
Jesus affirms that it is through loving one another that others will know that we are his disciples. One key way that we express loving one another is through fellowship. Another is through the radical inclusion of all God’s children.
Now that we are able to come back together again we have a unique opportunity to reaffirm God’s call for us as a faith community. This moment allows us to reimagine many of the ways that we live out God’s call in our time.
Some things we will pick up again seamlessly as if the pandemic was only a long season of hibernation. Some things we will let go of as no longer relevant in our current context. Some things will be reimagined and reinvented anew.
For those of able to attend the worship services in-person this summer, there is the possibility of enjoying fellowship simply by being together.
It is my hope that we will be able to hold simple coffee hours after worship again this summer. Maybe even a picnic one Sunday. Just being able to enjoy being together again is such a gift and blessing.
For those who continue to rely on the online worship video a ministry of presence is possible through phone calls, zoom sessions, and the like.
The Biblical basis of Loving Church Family is the Love Commandment. The practical theology of Loving Church Family gets expressed in many actions of love, compassion and care giving.
It might be a card or phone call. It might be checking with another person to see how they are doing. It might be posting a #RainbowMondays photo every week to let LGBTQ+ youth know they are not alone.
We can have a vision of what Loving Church Family means, or what we hope it will be. Yet, at the end of the day, Loving Church Family either happens in real time, real life, or it doesn’t exist. Loving Church Family is a practice, not a theory.
The forms that Loving Church Family takes is less important than the attitude behind whatever ways we practice loving one another. We want to practice fellowship that welcomes everyone who shows up. And we want to radically include people so that we leave no one behind.
A key reason that a congregation goes through an Accessible to All (A2A) process, as we have just begun to do, is to be radically inclusive as a Loving Church Family. We express love for one another with persons with mobility, hearing, or sight challenges to better ensure that no child of God is left behind. When we radically include those with mobility, hearing, or sight challenges in our Loving Church Family we are known as Jesus’ disciples.
We can extend this Accessible to All mindset to those with challenges of distance, for example those who live far away, or spend part of the year in another state. This will help us to extend our Loving Church Family beyond those able to gather for worship in – person on a Sunday.
This past year we learned that it is possible to be a Loving Church Family across distances in ways that we might not have imagined possible before.
The online Prayer Circle for example at times had people join in from New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and South Carolina. These were all “our people” spread out across the country, with zoom bridging the physical distance between us.
Likewise, we are a Loving Church Family through our commitment as an Open and Affirming congregation. Being an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Church is an essential way that we embody loving one another as Jesus loves us, and are known as Jesus’ disciples.
Jesus broke bread with and touched those the religious authorities in his time considered unclean and outcast. The Early Church reached out to Gentiles who would have been initially considered unclean and ungodly. The Early Church practiced radical inclusion among those the Roman Empire discarded, displaced, and dispossessed.
It would be difficult to imagine the Early Church without its mission of radical inclusion to the excluded. Their practice of loving one another, and their radically inclusive embrace of the excluded made them stand out as Jesus’ disciples.
Our radically inclusive embrace of LGBTQ+ people is one way we stand out as Jesus’ disciples. There have been real, meaningful advances toward inclusion in our society the past several years and decades. Yet, LGBTQ+ people are still excluded and spiritually outcast from too many churches. May see the day when all Christians who claim to be Jesus’ disciples welcome and affirm LGBTQ+ youth and adults.
We have four Core Values:
- Spiritually Alive (based on the Great Commandment – loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength);
- Neighborhood Engagement (based on the Great Commandment – loving our neighbor as ourselves);
- Making Disciples (based on the Great Commission – teaching people to be Jesus’ disciples who practice Jesus’ Way of love); and
- Loving Church Family (based on the Love Commandment – loving one another as Jesus loves us).
Let us take this moment today to reaffirm our commitment to our core value of Loving Church Family practicing love for one another.