Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Head on a Platter
But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. For when Herodias's daughter 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 to you.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 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 6:21-29
For my birthday this year, my sister gave me a plate I treasure. It has a face on it that you can decorate with food. My niece and nephew think it is hysterical that their aunt, who is a bishop, is also very silly and child like. I like dumb stuff and I don't particularly like being grown up all the time. When we were kids, we had a few special plates that we used to fight over. One was designed by my great uncle Charles and it had Miss Mary seated with a dangling spider next to her and the nursery rhyme around the plate's edge. We also had a Hop-A-Long Cassidy plate which was a favorite and much fought over at dinner time. Needless to say, most of mt siblings have grown way past being entertained by plates at the meal table - but not me.
When I read this story of the beheading of John the Baptist, it has always struck me funny - not because it is something to laugh about - but because it always seemed so ridiculous that a dancing girl could make policy and that a dinner party wouldn't be marred by John's lifeless head being brought out for all to see. I am always taken off guard when people's hate is so great that they would use their children as conspirators and ruin a good dinner with political intrigue. And yet it is the story of the ages. When we lose sight of God's love and forgiveness in our lives, it is easy to find any way to cover our tracks and misdeeds.
Today, as the snow falls and we face yet another storm, I want to give thanks for all those who have brought me God's love and forgiveness and who have not ordered my head on a platter. We all do stupid things and we all cause others pain. I am grateful for God's abiding love and forgiveness, that I might live another day and know no intrigue, but childlike pleasure in the simple things of life.