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Tuesday Tidings March 25, 2024

Dearest Members of Bethlehem,

“Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair… But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’”

It was six days before the Passover.  Six full days before Jesus would wash the disciple’s feet, and instruct the disciples to wash one another’s feet.  So Mary of Bethany was way ahead of the game.  Had she served as a model and inspiration for Jesus and the disciples?

I can’t be sure about that, but what I can be sure of is that Mary took a pound of costly perfume, anointed Jesus feet, and then wiped her Lord’s feet with her hair.  It is at once an astounding and startling gesture of utter devotion.              

Yet, as the pleasing aroma of the perfume wafted through the room, Judas raised a stink.  He was indignant, considered the whole episode an unnecessary extravagance.  Certainly that ointment could have been sold, the money given to the poor!  What a waste!

Jesus defended Mary and shared with those gathered that the costly perfume had actually been purchased for Jesus’ burial.  After all, “you do not always have me.”  It was a sobering reminder that he was headed to the cross, and then… to the tomb.

Mary deserves to be defended.  The truth is, most of those gathered that day were all too familiar with tombs, they had just recently been standing outside of one.  Yes, it was Mary’s (the woman with the costly perfume) brother’s tomb.  Lazarus had died, Mary and her sister were overwhelmed by grief, until Jesus arrived on the scene.  Jesus was deeply grieved, then shouted, “Lazarus come out!”  And he came out, alive!

Mary knew the inestimable value of new life, she had witnessed it, and was still in the process of appreciating it.  In her mind, she likely wished she could have been more extravagant.  I mean really, Judas, get a hold of yourself!  Can you actually put a price on the promise of resurrection?

As we walk with Jesus through this Holy Week, from the upper room, to the cross, the grave, and then eventually to that glorious empty tomb… may we go with the gratitude of Mary in our hearts.

May we understand that every single moment of Holy Week is sacred and precious and the furthest thing from a “waste” of time.  For we know all too well how much the promise of the resurrection means to us.

I trust that as we make our way into the sanctuary this Easter, as the organ blares, as the light shines, as the Lillies blossom and bloom… we will be sure that our expressions of praise, thanksgiving, and devotion will be as extravagant as they possibly can be!

Question for reflection: How has the promise of the resurrection shaped your life, tempered your grief, and provided you with purpose and perspective?

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Dan

Gracious Lord, be with us in this Holy Week.  Fill us with a sense of reverence and gratitude as we consider the miraculous work you have offered on our behalf.  Enliven and deepen our celebration of the Easter feast.  You are and always will be, the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer, and for this we offer our heartfelt thanks and praise.  All this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

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