Monday morning blessings to you all.
We are now in Holy Week – the time when we remember the last week of Jesus’ life. This week our worship moments will contain scripture stories about Jesus’ week with his friends and all of the ways that he prepared them and prepares us for what his life, death and resurrection mean. It can be a difficult week, especially now, in light of our current situation. And yet, it is an important journey to take. I have become a firm believer that in order to know the true joy of Easter and new life, it is helpful to first take the journey to the Cross. God will be with us on the journey.
Monday of Holy Week April 6, 2020
My friend Linda and I often act as sounding boards to one another for sermon, prayers, funerals. It is a wonderful support. Sunday afternoon she read me her worship reflection. I felt blessed by her words and so I share a version of her words with you today. May they be a blessing to you.
John 12:1-8 (The Message)
Anointing His Feet
12 1-3 Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house.
4-6 Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.” He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them.
7-8 Jesus said, “Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.”
Friendship is a gift in our lives and when we look at this passage, we can see Mary’s friendship with Jesus played out in a very unexpected way. You might remember that Mary was the one that sat at Jesus’ feet to listen to Jesus while her sister Martha was busy in the kitchen. And now in this passage Mary is generously bathing Jesus’ feet with an expensive perfume. Historians would point out that the perfume represents a preparation for Jesus’ burial. However, Mary’s actions can also be seen as a generous act of gratitude and an unexpected act at that.
This passage is filled with unexpected actions. It was unexpected that anyone would use such a costly amount of perfume to anoint someone’s feet. It was unexpected that Jesus would dampen the mood of the feast and gift by talking about his death. And it was very unexpected that Jesus was anointed by Mary, as it was usually men who anointed other men. But here, Mary lets down her hair and extravagantly anoints Jesus.
All of which reminds us that God is often up to unexpected things with, for, and through unexpected people. People expected the Messiah to look like King David; and instead they got a humble man riding on a donkey. The crowds who welcomed Jesus expected Jesus to throw out the Romans; instead he was crucified by them. Even his followers expected his crucifixion to be the end of the story; it turned out to be just the beginning. And as we look toward Easter again, we see the actions of God in an unexpected way when death does not have the last word and Jesus is raised from the dead.
So now we are in this unexpected time, in this time of physical isolation. Healthcare workers and other essential services are putting themselves at risk on our behalf. This is a time of great uncertainty, loneliness, suffering, and loss.
And yet, we trust that God continues to work in unexpected ways in the world. We know that God regularly loves to do the unexpected with, for, and through unexpected people. God regularly does unexpected things in and through you and me.
In what unexpected ways will God help you to do the unexpected as you extend your love?
In what unexpected ways will God inspire you to offer generous acts of gratitude?
God of Grace, I pour out my gratitude to you. Enable me to pour out my love through caring actions.
To Listen and Sing