Saving Face

Saving Face

Grace and peace from the All in whom we live and move and have our being.

Deeply grieved, the king regretted his promise to her, but since he had made his vow in front of all his honored guests, he couldn’t deny her request.”

Mark 6: 14-29

Saving face meant everything to Herod. Everything.

Deeply grieved in the doing of it – but too proud to change his mind, too proud to lose face – Herod ordered the execution of John.

We are no better. No different. Well, maybe you are. I’m not.

I am, just like Herod, deeply invested and complicitly enmeshed in saving face:

  • Like Herod, I too have made promises to keep … family dysfunctions to honor, political loyalties to uphold, national allegiances to maintain. My pension. My social security. My Medicare. My tax bracket.
  • Like Herod, I too hold a position of privilege in the world. By sheer accident of birth and fortune, I ended up on the invite list to Herod’s gathering of honored guests. I am a citizen of the United States, and so – whether I like it or not – I have benefitted from unholy things done to others to save face, to save – specifically – this white American face.
  • OF COURSE those mass killings and targeted executions and bombs “Made in the USA” dropped on Gaza and children put in cages at the border grieves me. Deeply grieves me. But I am invested like Herod and I am complicit like Herod and I am at Herod’s party and saving face is everything. Everything.

Why else would we, as a nation, still cater to gas and oil interests, even as we deeply grieve the dying of the planet?

Why else would we, as a nation, a deeply grieving nation, not already have made reparations, honored treaties, equalized wages, and leveled the distribution of food, health care, education, housing?

Because saving face is everything to us. Everything. If we were not so foolishly prideful, if we actually humbled ourselves enough to change our minds, to change our ways, it would mean losing face … losing stature … losing money. It would mean letting ALL kinds of riffraff come to the party. Better to save face, though it deeply grieves us, than to address the injustices that keep people under-fed, under-educated, under- resourced, under-performing, under us.

Deeply Grieved

Deeply grieved, the king regretted his promise to her, but since he had made his vow in front of all his honored guests, he couldn’t deny her request.”

The Greek word for deeply grieved is perilupos (pair-REEL-a-pos).

It is a word Mark uses only twice:

  • As a description of Herod’s feelings for the killing of John.
  • And to describe Jesus’ feelings, that night in which he was betrayed, in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Deeply grieved, Herod gave up everything holy to save face, expecting us to pretend with him that we can keep this party of the elite going strong. We are masters at pretending.

Deeply grieved, Jesus gave up everything holy too, asking only that we stay awake with him through the long night in this dark garden. We are failures at staying awake.

Even so, honored guests, even in our pretending and in our stupor, we are invited to a party where there is a place for all, with a table where there is enough for all, where none need exploit another to save face.  

Our host, Jesus the Christ, is the face of our salvation. His is our saving face.

Come to this party. Come to this table.

And let us be filled with the good will of God, here in the kingdom of God.


Wednesday Respite is a 30-min contemplative service of scripture, prayer, music and a Spirited Touchpoint this week led by Spirit friend & retreat leader Sheri Brown.

Touchpoint is a reflection on where God’s story touches our life story. It is a short homily based on a biblical story of people in the Old and New Testaments and their relationship with God. Our spiritual ancestors’ experience of God’s grace connects with our lives in the present and our relationship with the Divine. Previous Touchpoints are available as PDFs or on SoundCloud.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *