Welcome the readings for what a dear friend calls “Improper 10.” We get a glimpse of the ancient Trumps in the gospel reading – the more things change, the more they stay the same. The daughter dances for a group of powerful political men – one of whom wants to show off and then cannot back down for fear of looking weak or indecisive. Maybe she was dirty dancing, but maybe she was not; either way, it’s a creepy story right? And that creepiness is not the worst of it; John the Baptizer ends up dead – almost execution as a side story. Mark tells it for a good reason though. This is not the same Herod who ordered the census count, or the same Herod who ordered all the baby boys murdered, but this is the same Herod who will pronounce judgment of Jesus in only ten more chapters. And this Herod is consistent – he doesn’t really want to kill Jesus any more that he wanted to kill John, but he will give into the politics again later, just as he does today. The daughter dances, and Herodias gets revenge on John.
We have David dancing today too. Remember Indiana Jones? The Ark is dangerous. In the beginning of the journey, David and others are dancing with songs, and lyres, and harps, and tambourines, and castanets, and cymbals – making a joyful noise and dancing along – then tragedy. Did you notice we skipped a few verses there? In those verses, the Ark starts to slip off the wagon and one of the drivers reaches to steady it. ZAP – he dies. The Ark is dangerous – it holds the stone tablet fragments, Aaron’s rod, a Golden Urn full of manna – and it has POWER. David seems to get shook up for a bit and parks it for a few months, then goes after it again. Now we are back in our reading and David is described as dancing with “all of his might.” One of his wives looks on; Michal was raised as royalty and seems disgusted by his not looking very “Royal” in all his energetic dancing. He was looking very foolish actually – long white linen alb, dancing with all his might, giving burnt offerings to God and peace offerings to the people – he blessed the people before sending them on their way – not very kingly at all – actually much more priestly.
These are great readings on our First Anniversary. Some of you all may remember when I first got here last October; I mentioned that it would take a while but eventually we would learn to dance together. Me and the altar team: we all have to learn to anticipate what the others will do next and I think we’ve gotten pretty good at it. As congregations: you all have had to learn to dance with me an with each other. Trust has been built. Sure, a few toes got bruised here and there, but I am proud of how far we’ve danced together! We’ve spun and dipped; we’ve cooked and served; we’ve pirouetted and stomped; we’ve gathered and distributed. We have done the hard work that other, more established congregations can sit out – and we are the stronger for having done it together. This dance is not always easy – it’s not always fun – but we are all honoring our raising when we dance with the one that brung us. We are not here merely dancing together, congregation with congregation, me with you. No, we are all here dancing with God. God has called us to this work of dancing and blessing and making offerings of peace. God has called us at this time and this place to be His People dancing together here in Wichita Falls. Surely there are others who like to dance out there – let’s invite them into our Flash Mob, shall we? Who will you ask to dance with us? Amen.