Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Losing Your Head

And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. Mark 6:25-29

Telling the truth can cost you your head. Or at least it did for John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin. The boy who grew up side by side with the Messiah, the one who was the apple of his mother's eye, the child who never lied - he was punished for the pleasure and revenge of a selfish potentate. From board rooms to school rooms, from diocese to parish halls, and everywhere in between, truth tellers often suffer the worst punishment. Those who acted in criminal and inappropriate ways, often get revenge in the cruelest of ways. John wasn't the most politically savvy guy, and his bathing practices were suspect, but he didn't deserve to lose his head. Too often, good people get squashed from organizations and blamed for problems because they pointed out the problem. I often wondered what happened to the boy who spoke up that the emperor had no clothes. When the story closes people are laughing at the king. My guess is that didn't last long and the king found a way to punish the truth teller.

Today, I want to honor all those truth tellers in our world and especially in our church. We have too often been polite and turned a blind eye to abuse of all kinds. We have called it cultural and normative, and the way of the world. And yet abuse is abuse and the truth tellers are often belittled and expunged since beheading is no longer socially acceptable. Our church history is littered with be-headings of clergy and others who would not act politically correctly and perpetuate a lie. Here's to those whose faith is so strong that they will live for God's justice rather than fame or reward. And here's to those who have suffered for others, trying to tell the truth, and end injustices in our day. May we pray today that we might have the strength to be truth tellers. May we not worry what the consequences are. May we trust God together that God will honor those who live lives of honest faith.

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