In the summer we usually make a pilgrimage of sorts to visit family in Minnesota lake country. I generally think at least once on such a trip—usually while sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake—“I wish I could just stay here forever.”
In 1991 I attended the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Dallas with thousands of other high school kids from across the country and around the world for worship, service and Bible study. In addition to being fun and exciting, the trip expanded my view of and encounter with the church.
Reading through the gospel for this week is sort of a horrific treat. The beheading of John the Baptist is nothing if not a great story—drama, intrigue, tension, conflict, resolution. Even as a flashback (“John, whom I beheaded, has been raised!”) to explain Herod’s response to Jesus’ ministry, it’s the kind of story one doesn’t want to read and yet cannot stop reading. But compelling as it is, I don’t necessarily want to preach about a head on a platter.
When my son was about five years old (he’s currently a very old seven) we spent an afternoon with a group of friends. The kids disappeared to play in the basement, and the parents gathered around in the kitchen to catch up. We snacked and told stories. There was lots of laughter. It was the kind of carefree, laughter-all-around gathering that I dearly love.
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