Fifth Sunday in Lent
The Fragrance of Gifts
I remember what my grandmother’s lotion smelled like. Even now, years after she has died, if I get a whiff of that smell, I am drawn back to days spent at her house, planting flowers and going shopping. It is as if no time has passed; for just a moment I feel what it was to be in her presence, and I remember her love for me.
We know that this moment of Mary’s gift to Jesus happens just before things begin to unravel for everyone in that room. The disciples are going to be separated from each other, Jesus will face torture and death, and all of them will experience disorientation and pain. Jesus says she is preparing him for his burial. Already things are not making sense and are getting uncomfortable. But what remains in all of this? The smell that permeates the room. It lingers.
This story reminds us that gifts of love never go away. Like the perfume in the story, love permeates deep into our souls and, once received, can never be taken out. I think about every person who was in that house with Jesus. In the days, weeks, and years after Jesus’ resurrection, how did they feel when that same perfume wafted their way? Did they find themselves back in that place, together, and remember who they were in that moment with Jesus? Did those memories give the courage to do the next thing to follow Jesus?
As we come ever closer to the practice of Holy Week and remembering the path that Jesus took to the cross, can this story give us a sense of how to embrace the call to follow Jesus? Can it show us how the gifts we offer to God can overflow into the world and bring life, joy, and hope to others?
Rebecca Craver, Director of Congregational Development
Moravian Church, Southern Province