Home > Occasions, Other Festivals > Women’s Worship. Martyrdom of John the Baptist/Altar Guild Opening Service, 2014.

Women’s Worship. Martyrdom of John the Baptist/Altar Guild Opening Service, 2014.

JohntheBaptist_37175812_stdMartyrdom of John the Baptist/Altar Guild Opening Divine Service

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Mark 6:14-29; Revelation 6:9-11, Romans 6:1-5

August 28, 2014


Iesu Iuva!


Men may hold power, but women often guide their hands.  Wasn’t Adam the head of Eve?  Then why did he follow her into sin?


And the women in the story of John the Baptist’s death have great influence over the powerful man Herod.  Herodias plays Herod like a fiddle.  She uses her charm to make herself queen, even though she was the wife of Herod’s brother.  She uses her daughter’s charm to get the head of John the Baptist for telling them it’s wrong.


But the same power of influence that these women use for sin and death, other women in the bible use for righteousness and life.  Women teach the disciples what it is to worship Jesus—one woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, dries them with her hair.  Another woman breaks open her alabaster box of perfume to anoint Jesus for his burial.  It is the women who follow Jesus to the cross, and the women who go out early in the morning to anoint His body.


It is your task to adorn the altar.  That may seem like a mundane task.  Humanly speaking, it would have looked like a mundane task to go out and anoint the body of Jesus in the tomb.  Dressing the altar is mundane and yet has divine significance.  The altar is the focal point of the church, the symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins on the cross.  It is the place from which we are fed and given drink of His holy body and blood.  This is where Jesus comes to us in His body.  It is the place where His sacrifice on Golgotha meets the people of this congregation, where sin parched lips are touched by the Holy One who was crucified.

We don’t live in a time and place where Christians are threatened with death, at least not yet.  But it is still a time and place where the believers are often demoralized and tired.  We are a little flock.  We appear to have lost the war for our culture.  People aren’t persecuting us, but they are ignoring us, abandoning us, and the men of the church are often like the disciples, locked up in a dark room with fear and grief.  The cry of the church goes up for the Lord to help us and seems to go unanswered.


But it doesn’t go unanswered.  The Lord is with us in weakness, with us even in death.  Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  We were therefore buried with Him through Baptism into death, that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.


We were baptized into His death; in His death we share in His resurrection.  The altar and the pulpit and the font—your area of the church to adorn and clean and make fit for the services of God—these are where the death of Jesus comes to us.  And in the death of Jesus is our victory.  It is a superhuman victory.  The victory of life over death, of God over Satan, of righteousness over sin.


It is your great task to encourage the brothers by your work.  By making the chancel beautiful you testify to the fact that in this church the risen Jesus comes to us and meets our death with His death and resurrection.

You are Eves who encourage Adam to stand instead of enticing him to sin and fall.


You are like the women who went out to the tomb to do the work of preparing a dead body.  What good would anointing Jesus do?  Would it overcome the disciples’ defeat?  Would it take away Jesus’ death?


But they went to care for the body of Jesus and found the resurrection.


In the same way you come to this altar with clean linen and silk and you bear witness to your brothers that their Jesus and yours, who died, is risen.


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.



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