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The July 18 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services.
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Amos 7:7-15 | Psalm 85:8-13
Ephesians 1:3-14 | Mark 6:14-29
Church and State, that is what the OT lesson and the Gospel lesson is telling us about in different ways today, the relationship between Church and State. Although we as Christians are supposed to support our government, and yes, that is part of what is called the “Two Kingdoms Doctrine,” there are also times when we are supposed to act as a corrective. Church and State are supposed to work together for the good of all, and we believe that God supports both. But, there are times when the secular authorities get uppity (sometimes believing that they are God), and need to be put in their place. For an example, see the life of Martin Luther on defying the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. So, it’s sort of a Lutheran tradition. Let’s call it a form of “checks and balances.”
In Amos today, we get some of that. Amos is interesting because, he never claims to be a prophet. He always maintains that he is a herdsman (camel driver) and a dresser of sycamore trees. But God sends him with a message for King Jeroboam in Israel, which is also interesting because Amos belongs to the kingdom of Judah. The message is that Jeroboam will die and the kingdom will go into exile – which does happen later, a message which Jeroboam doesn’t really hear, nor Amaziah. Amaziah is a priest at Bethel, and the head of the king’s prophets. Yes, the kings then had their own school of prophets, and their main job was to tell the king what he wanted to hear. This is something which Amaziah is upset about. No doubt, Amos’ words run contrary to what Amaziah has been telling Jeroboam. Amaziah is basically telling Amos, “Get out of town.” It doesn’t work. Amos is there to deliver a message (the job of a prophet), which he does, putting his life in peril, then he leaves. The message is also basically, God is in charge, not Jeroboam.
This is similar to the Gospel lesson today, the Death of John the Baptist. It is one of the most famous stories in the New Testament, and a good lesson on hasty words by a leader. John had gotten on Queen Herodias’ bad side, by telling people that King Herod Antipas (not the Great) was living illegally with his brother Phillip’s wife. True, Herodias had divorced Phillip, her uncle/husband. And Herod Antipas (who was also her uncle) had divorced his wife, a Nabatean princess. But, under Mosaic Law, this marriage was illegal, (her husband probably hadn’t granted her a “Gitt,” a certificate of release) and it was more than a bit incestuous. That was true, but she didn’t want it spread around. Royal families often did what they wished, regardless of what others thought. King Herod Antipas, actually is a mixed personality here. Yes, he’s out of line, but he is also tries to protect John. It seems that he liked to hear John preach. It all fails at his birthday party, which we all know, and has been depicted in numerous movies.