A Birthday Party?!?!?!

“Good luck dealing with Herod’s beheading of John, because that’s what the Mark lesson is for.  Oh, have Fun!”  That was Liz, my Church's secretary, voicemail to me the week before I wrote this sermon during the Summer of 2018.  Wasn’t that encouraging!

Backstory Preaching Creative Challenge #3
Watercolors, Markers, Colored Penicls, and Pen Art Journal Page
Paint Party Friday- Week 23 Year 9
What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 531
Inspire Me Monday - Week #395

Anyway, after a chuckle at Liz’s comments and a brief moment of bewilderment about what to do with the Gospel in my sermon, I followed the steps I’ve learned as a seminarian.  Although I am very familiar with the scriptural story found in Mark 6:14-29, I read it again to see what jumped out at me.  Happy Birthday, Herod, was not what came to mind!  It is a grim and very dark story of an illicit marriage, vengeance, incest, pride, and a gruesome murder with an abundance of shady characters.  What’s worse, the only good guy in the story lost!  First we have Herod, who had abducted Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and was too proud to back down from his promise to his stepdaughter.  No respectable monarch wants to embarrass himself in front of his guests! Then, we have Herodias, who wanted to kill John the Baptist for speaking up about her illicit marriage.  The clincher is Salome, Herodias’ daughter, who danced seductively at her stepfather’s birthday party and had John the Baptist decapitated as her “thank you gift.”  Let’s not forget the guests, who could have objected to the decapitation, but chose to say nothing.  The only redeeming character is John the Baptist, whose integrity and prophetic gifts led him to martyrdom.  In addition, I also noticed parallels to the trial and crucifixion of Christ, where Ponticus Pilate washes his hands to show no responsibility for the execution of Jesus, just as Herod chose not to question the execution of John the Baptist.  I’m sure you don't know anyone like that.  Right?

Tag Birthday Card
Tim Holtz Die Cuts, Embossing Folder, Washi Tape, Distress Sticles, & Distress Inks; Acrylic Paint; Tag; and Various Papers
Moo-Mania - #197 Butterflies
More Mixed Media - With Optional Bright
Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge - Add a Die Cut

Therefore, other than the modeling John the Baptist’s honorable character, what was Mark’s purpose in telling us about this gruesome birthday party story?  For that, I decided to look at it’s placement, which took me to the two stories that John’s beheadment is sandwiched between.  (I learned about the sandwiching trick when working on another sermon during one of my seminarian classes.)  The two sandwiching stories are about when Jesus sends out the twelve and the one about when Jesus feeds the five thousand.  The first one is a story of servitude and empowerment.  Although this may seem like an oxymoron, it’s actually what happened.  Jesus sends out his disciples two by two with nothing, but the clothes on their backs, a staff, and the authority over impure spirits.  They go out, preached for people to repent, drove out demons, anointed the sick, and healed them.  Yes, although they had nothing, they were empowered and successful through their faith in Christ.  The second one is a story of the abundance that can be found in Jesus, the Bread of Life.  The story opens with the disciples joyously coming back and telling Jesus all about their journey.  They all go off to eat, but are followed by a multitude of people.  Therefore, instead of eating, Jesus proceeds to teach them, but it gets late and the multitude of people got hungry.  Miraculously, Jesus feeds five-thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, plus they have twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.  Wow, wouldn’t you have loved to witness and partake of that heavenly meal.  So, after reading about the sandwiching stories, what do you believe was Mark’s purpose in telling us this gruesome birthday party story?  I believe it’s to remind us that bad things can happen to good people, as well as that even in the midst of tragedy, GOD IS AT WORK.  He always wins at the end!

Tattered Birthday Card
Various Tim Holtz Dies & Blank Card; Dymo Labeler; ekSuccess Glitter Sticker; Martha Stewart Gemstone; Various Papers
Word Art Wednesday - Weeks #398-#399
Daring Card Makers (1 Flower; 2 Words; 3 Self-adhesive Materials (Flower Sticker, Gem & Dymo Sentiment), 4-Dies (Flowerpot, Flower, Foliage & Hexagon Trim; and 5 Distress Ink Pads (Tan, Rust, Brown, Peach, & Green)
The Three Muses Challenge - Numbers

Although not as tragic, here is a story of something I witnessed personally.  On July 12, 2016, my daughter Ana posted the following on my Facebook wall, along with a picture of Lisa and me, “Thank you for consistently pushing me to move forward and survive this scary black hole known as adulthood. I am so, so, so grateful for your motivation and the words of encouragement that you share with me every single day.”  This was a couple of months after her graduation from Texas A&M, when she was working at Restoration Hardware.  She earned a decent hourly rate, but she didn’t see a future for herself in the company.  I kept encouraging her by reminding her, “Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” this verse from Philippians 4:13, was engrained in me as a child by my parents.  Anyway, the post popped up in my Facebook memories last week, so I commented with emojis of praying hands surrounded by hearts, as a way to thank God for all He’s done in Ana’s life since then.  On Thursday, July 12, 2018, Ana posted, “Today I was reminded that two years ago at this time I felt broken, struggling to find a career that I loved or that I felt was sustainable. Now, here I am in an entirely new stage of life surrounded by people who love and support me, a church that I feel right at home in and I am able to afford and do things that I never could have imagined. I am so grateful for my job, the time I am able to spend abroad, the friends that shower me with love and a family that I know I can always count on. God is absolutely incredible.”  Amen!

Happy Birthday Telegram
Various Tim Holtz Dies, Embossing Folder, & Distress Ink Pads; ekSuccess Mini Punch; Martha Stewart Luster Glass Microbeads; Jute Cord; Pen; Assorted Papers & Paints
Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge - Happy Birthday

Although Ana has experienced minor ups and downs, she was blessed with a marvelous childhood.  Our church family at St. James is partly responsible for that.  Thank you!  She also had a successful experience at Texas A&M, where she got to be on the Dean’s list once and earned a couple of small scholarships.  Then, just like many other college graduates, she was faced with the reality of being on her own.  However, through her faith in our Lord, she found the strength, courage and wisdom to excel.  In a metamorphical manner, this is what Mark is pointing out in Chapter 6.  Although John the Baptist was martyred, God was still at work surrounding this terrible event.  The twelve were at work learning how to evangelize, saving people’s lives, and growing as disciples of Christ.  Jesus was spreading his word and was glorified through his abundance during the feeding of the five-thousand.  So yes, something terrible happened, but at the end, Jesus Christ won!  This is something we all need to be reminded of, rather we’re dealing with a small problem like the one my daughter Ana dealt with or trying to cope with all the tragedies that we are witnessing in our world these days.  Just remember the words found in Philippians 4:13, “Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Mountain Laurel Tree in My Garden
iPhone Photo Edited On Pixelmator and Word Art Wednesday Scripture
T Stands For Teach Your Children
Summer Happiness Linkparty


Hi Arnoldo I love the way you place your lovely art work amongst these great words of wisdom. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and good luck in the future to Ana. Angela xXx
Lunch Lady Jan said…
You've used some wonderful dies and papers to make your cards, Arnoldo...I particularly like the wooden half barrel, the iron bands look so real! Thank you for dropping by my blog, your support is much appreciated.
Hugs LLJ 5 xx
Beth Niquette said…
What a wonderful post. I enjoyed every word I read--and your artwork, as always is amazing. God bless you and Happy Paint Party Friday!
JFM said…
So much beauty in this posting of art, thoughts and beautiful words 💮
Gillena Cox said…
Beautiful cards. Inspiring, ponder-able words.
Happy PPF

Oh Arnoldo, I'm so glad you were able to link to T this week, although I seem to have missed your post until now. You make such incredible art and mix it well with your stories that this week, seemed darker than usual. The birthday cards were fabulous, though. I really, really LOVE your art. You have the best dies, the best stories, the best artwork, and the most beautiful drawings. Thank you beyond belief for joining us for T this week. It was also fabulous to see you at Friday Smiles, too.
Christine said…
Beautiful art Arnoldo!
Valerie-Jael said…
Lots of beautiful art. Thanks for joining us at More Mixed Media with the 'brights' tag. Happy PPF, Valerie
Sue said…
Hi Arnoldo, Loving the birthday cards and tag.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Sue #7
Kathy said…
Such beautiful work.
Thanks so much for joining in with The Daring Cardmakers 1,2,3,4,5 challenge this week
carol l mckenna said…
Creative artworks ~ unique ~

Happy Day to You,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)
Lindart said…
Hi Arnaldo. Today I did actually read your post,rather than just look at the lovely artwork. Very interesting post at this particular time. Yes bad things, unfortunately happen to good people, but we can look forward to good things happening too. And yes I think we all know someone who washes his hands of all the wrong/bad things he has done. I don't think he even knows he has done them. Oblivious. So do we blame him? We do have to be able to look beyond and have faith that things will work out in the end, and we have to help in whatever way we can to make them happen. Thank you and have a great week! Lindart #23
Cath Wilson said…
Great lessons here, ARnoldo and wonderful bits of art, too! Love your sermon 'back story'...despite the difficult subject. I read a lot of biblically based fiction that gives wonderful little insights to the things potentially going through people's minds during these huge events and Pontius Pilate was really interesting.
You are amazingly visual and have a real gift. I hope you use it to illustrate what you say...and more!
Wishing you a week filled with blessing after blessing!
Cath x
peggy gatto said…
Lovely, happy post with art!!!
Shoshi said…
Another uplifting and beautiful post, Arnoldo. How you slot in the art work is so lovely. As I looked at the various birthday cards, I thought, "No, that one is far too nice for Herod!" He didn't deserve a birthday card! It is a pretty gruesome account, but it is consistent with the Scriptures as a whole, that we get the lot, warts and all. There's no soft-soaping with the Lord, is there.

Thank you for your lovely comment, and I'm glad you like my little pantry! It's not quite as tidy these days, as when that photo was taken. I am trying to reorganise things a bit. As we transition to more whole-foods, plant-based, I've got quite a lot of bulky ingredients and there isn't room for it all, so I've overflowed into Mum's old flat - after all, the kitchen cupboards are mostly standing empty apart from cat food! This diet is amazing for lowering cholesterol and has been proved not only to halt cardiovascular disease and diabetes but actually to reverse them.

If you hop back to my blog you can see what I've been up to in the kitchen today - fun and games with our first crop of apples!

I love the idea of using the black paper and chalk pens for place cards. The effect is so stylish and striking, isn't it. I'm going to cut more labels and use them on my as-yet unlabelled jars, so I'll have a mix-and-match with my existing labels which are black-on-white. They are a lot more trouble to make, but I think the new method will coordinate well with them.

I'll be blogging about my hospital appointments next week, but thank you especially for your prayers.

Happy belated WOYWW,
Shoshi #18
Tarang Sinha said…
Such a lovely post ___you are very creative. Beautiful cards and I really like the sketches.
Ha, back the front kid here Arnoldo, no idea where my brains are???

I commented earlier on a week old post thinking it was this week’s.. oh and to top it off did it to three or so others before twigged, had Julia’s last week’s post up!

I love it all the art and the beautiful gospel stories, God’s Word is unlimited always explaining things we need to know, things that pop up as if we’ve never seen them before but there they were all along.

Sadly in this passage of a foolish, sinful king, mother and daughter and surrounding foolish men viewing it all -lamely watching on, the winner is John .. he won an eternity in heaven by faithful press to his call upon his life from the womb.

May we follow follow on, also.
Until He comes, as John said the closing passage of Revelation. “Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus.”
Can’t wait, long for the day! Joy unspeakable..
Hugs Shaz in Oz.x #20

{Wonderful Words of Life - Shaz in Oz}
{Calligraphy Cards - Shaz in Oz}

What an amazing post. I enjoyed every single artpiece and the wise words ! God bless you Arnoldo and thank you for yet another amazing entry for AJJ!
Susi xxx
meant Moo Mania & More ... sorry!
Neet said…
What a fabulous journal page you open your post with. And what a beautiful piece of scripture and picture you end with. That is not to say the middle bit is lacking in any way, it certainly is not. Some beautiful work and word here.
Hugs, Neet 1 xx
Hello Arnoldo,
a very good post. Thank you.

Many greetings
Rosie said…
This is a gorgeous post, love all in it

Thank you for joining us at MOO MANIA & MORE
Sarah Brennan said…
Ana's story is indeed uplifting Arnoldo. Love your journal planning page and the tags. Happy belated WOYWW. Sarah #10
Angelnorth said…
Lovely creations, thanks for joining us at Daring Cardmakers this week!
Miri said…
Beautiful cards and interesting "food for thought" ;-).
Thanks for sharing your birthday card with the Daring Cardmakers this week and following our 1,2,3,4,5 challenge.
Create With Joy said…
Love seeing your creative ideas Arnoldo!
Thanks for joining us at Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy! :-)