Given By Rev Madison Shockley on July 15 2018

Madison Shockley talks of fear and trembling in the palace of the king. The disciples of Jesus were going around teaching, preaching, and healing. King Herod was curious about Jesus since the king had never heard of him. Some, including Herod, believed that it was John the Baptist, resurrected, even though Herod had executed John. The story of John the Baptist is that he was organizing people, baptizing people, and most importantly, John was criticizing the immorality and corruption of King Herod and his court. King Herod had divorced his wife and married his brother’s wife, Herodias, which was against Jewish law. She wanted John dead, but Herod was concerned that by executing John, it would cause an uprising. One night, after Herod’s stepdaughter, Salome, had danced and danced,  Herod promised her anything she wanted, up to half of his kingdom. Not knowing what to ask for, Salome consulted her mother, who told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod did as Salome asked because he did not want to appear weak or go back on his word. The head of John the Baptist was given to Salome who gave it to her mother. The prospect of John returning in Jesus was truly frightening. John was more than a prophet. He was an organizer of a new movement and a martyr. His mission was to expose more than one man’s indiscretions, but to expose the hypocrisy of following and evoking one’s religion only when convenient. This is what Herod was doing. Today, there are really only two denominations left: piety and justice. Piety is focused on personal behavior and personal salvation. Justice focused on the systems and personal behaviors related to social justice. John the Baptist criticized Herod on both levels; Herod’s lip service to Jewish law and his collusion with the Romans to exploit the masses. John had created an environment for a popular revolt, so Herod beheaded him. Then Jesus showed up, and Herod realized his problem had not gone away. While he could kill a man, nothing can kill an idea and a movement. That is the message for today. We stand in this tradition. March, vote, and act!