The gruesome death of John the Baptist gives us a glimpse of the suffering that is to come. In response, Jesus empowers his disciples to continue and magnify his work. God’s kingdom is not coming to an end, but is just beginning. Why church? Because our callings receive reorientation.
INTRODUCTION & REFLECTION
Call to Worship
L: Let us worship Christ, who speaks wisdom to all, even those who take offense.
C: We praise God for the power of the Good News.
L: Let us worship Christ, who gathers and calls us to share his story.
C: We praise God who sends us out with the Good News.
L: Let us worship Christ, who troubles the mighty with his deeds of love.
C: We praise God who reorients us with the Good News.
Prayer of the Day
Magnify in us your story Lord, so that we may be faithful disciples. Make us willing to go where you send us, to share your astounding word and to join in building up your reign.
- The Lord Now Sends Us Forth- ELW #538
- God of Grace and God of Glory- ELW #705
- Will You Come and Follow Me- ELW #798
- Blessed Be Your Name- Matt Redman
- Break Every Chain- Will Reagan
- Sending- Townend, Nockels, Hall
Narrator: [Jesus] left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said,
People: “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”
Narrator: And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them,
Jesus: “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”
Narrator: And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them,
Jesus: “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
Narrator: So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying,
Person: “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.”
Narrator: But others said,
Person: “It is Elijah.”
Narrator: And others said,
Person: “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”
Narrator: But when Herod heard of it, he said,
Herod: “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
Narrator: 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,
John: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Narrator: 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. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl,
Herod: “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.”
Narrator: And he solemnly swore to her,
Herod: “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”
Narrator: She went out and said to her mother,
Daughter: “What should I ask for?”
Narrator: She replied,
Mother: “The head of John the baptizer.”
Narrator: Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested,
Daughter: “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
Narrator: The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
What is the main thing for Why Church? If we lose our focus we can veer off the path into many other good things, but is it the main thing? I love the phrase, “Let us not major in the minors.” If we are honest every person needs some reorientation, which I believe happens best when one shares their own failings and the desire for reorientation. Being vulnerable in this manner gives people the permission to be vulnerable and seek assistance. Remember the Twelve are sent out completely vulnerable needing the acceptance and support of those they would meet to continue their mission. The Church is at its best when it demonstrates reorientation, leading by example instead of making an example of others faults.
(Prepare a bottle with a message in it – use John 3:16).
I have a bottle here with a message in it. Have you ever heard of people writing messages, putting them into a bottle and then throwing them into the ocean to see where it would end up? Messages have been slipped into bottles for as long as there have been people on earth.
Nine and a half years ago, a boy who was 10 years old named Max was walking on a beach in Massachusetts with his father. He wrote a message on a piece of paper, sealed the message in a bottle and threw it out to sea. That was August 2010.
The message included Max’s name and a few of his interests at the time, along with his address and a request for a response. He soon forgot about the bottle, but the Atlantic Ocean didn’t.
Just over 9 years later, in November 2019, Max who was now a college student in Boston — received a text from his father saying the message in the bottle had been answered.
The response came from someone named “G Dubois,” who apparently found the bottle on a beach in October. That beach wasn’t in Massachusetts, though, or even North America — it was in France.
Do you think that using a message in a bottle might be a good way to spread the news of Jesus all around the world? We could write John 3:16 on pieces of paper.
Pull out the message in the bottle: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.”
We could write that on a piece of paper, put it in a bottle, and drop it in the ocean. Then the good news of Jesus would float all around the world. Does this sound like a good plan to you?
Well, to tell the truth, I don’t think that would get the message of God’s love to very many people. What would be a good way to get the good news of God’s love to people all around the world?
Jesus had disciples – they were the people who he invited to share the good news of God’s love. They didn’t send a bottle with a message in it. The disciples went out and visited people to tell them of God’s love in person, face to face. That sounds like a much better way, doesn’t it? Why church? Because our callings receive reorientation. Let’s pray.