Materials for Worship at Home for Sunday 11th July

Jeanette writes: Both our readings today are about dancing: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19, and Mark 6: 14-29. The first tells of King David dancing before the Ark of the Covenant, the second Salome dancing before King Herod.

Take a look at the two pictures. What differences in attitude or intention can you see between them? How do each of them make you feel?


Certainly, the actions are similar, but the intentions behind the actions could not be more different. David is dancing in worship and love before God, Salome is dancing to seduce King Herod into killing John the Baptist. To be fair to Herod, that was something he didn’t want to do. John intrigued him – he was a little in awe of him and a little afraid of him as well – but as he didn’t want to lose face before his court, he had no alternative. He had foolishly promised the girl whatever she asked for.

These passages very clearly illustrate for us that any action cannot simply be labelled “good” or “bad”, but that everything that we do has to be looked at within its context and intention, before we label it one or the other. Is the action a loving one, or one calculated to cause harm? In other words, is what we are doing drawing us closer to God, or driving us farther away from our creator, the source of our being.

This may seem like a simple choice to make, but think again. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an eminent German theologian and pacifist, a member of the Confessing Church which was politically opposed to Hitler, was also a member of the German Resistance, working to get many Jews out of Germany. He was involved in the failed attempt on Hitler’s life on July 20, 1944. His involvement was discovered and he was arrested and later hanged for his part in the plot. As a Christian and a pacifist, was it right for him to be involved in an assassination attempt, or did the greater good of the fall of the Nazi regime, and the many thousands of lives which would have been saved as a result, justify the action? Was his involvement in the plot an action of love for God’s world or not? He obviously believed it was, and he died for his belief.

So, it isn’t so simple after all. Now I know it isn’t likely that any of us are likely to be involved in such world-shaping events, as Bonhoeffer was, but the principle still applies to us in our daily lives and in the choices we make. Are the motives and intentions of what we do based on love of God and our neighbour, or our own self-interest? Even, are we keen to be seen to be doing good?

Many years ago, I learnt, very painfully I might add, that if I was looking for God in any situation, God, who is love, would be found where I found love in that situation, however unlikely a place that might seem to be. It has informed my thinking and theology ever since, and sometimes led me to some surprising conclusions. I commend it to you.

So let’s pray. (Please ponder each petition and its implications for you before you go on to the next one.)

Loving God, help us to see the world through your eyes.

Loving God, help us not to deceive ourselves about our intentions.

Loving God, guide us in the decisions we make.

Loving God, give us the courage to work for your love and justice in our broken world.

Loving God, give us the will to make the necessary changes in our living, so that our environment may be healed, and the future of our planet safeguarded.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.