BY REV. CORY KEMP |
One of the most beautiful, simple stories about Jesus happened the Saturday night before Palm Sunday.
While sharing the evening with his disciples, and his friends, Martha, Lazarus and Mary, at their home in Bethany, scripture tells us that, “Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” -John 12:3
Not everyone present thought her gesture was appropriate.
Judas had his own agenda and made a vain attempt to judge and belittle her, which Jesus deflected. But in Judas trying to claim a false moral high ground for the poor, we have a deeper sense of what Mary’s actions cost: 300 denarii or $416.62 USD. That is worth noting.
When was the last time you spent anywhere this amount of money on a friend in what could easily be seen as an unnecessary, frivolous way? Can you imagine doing that for someone you love, just because you love them and want to? What compelled Mary to plan this out, purchase the beautiful perfume and anoint Jesus’ feet?
My thought is that Mary learned about how to love so extravagantly from the best possible teacher in in the world: Jesus. And Jesus learned from God, who is so very generous, kind and loving in all ways that we can’t even begin to imagine them.
One way is to see the world as a showcase for the fragrant abundance that God shares in nature, as did Mary in anointing Jesus’ feet with nard. Scent is a very powerful sense and ignites equally powerful memories when we bump into them again, even years later. Lilacs, lilies, peonies, roses, and honeysuckle are God’s way of saying stop, pay attention and be present. Enjoy what I am giving you right now. Enjoy it all.
There is no limit to what God has to give or wants to give.
Jesus also gave generously of his time, attention and gifts. His insight into human feeling, understanding and daily living gave him such a vast reserve of knowledge and wisdom his followers were constantly amazed at the questions he asked and the answers people came to, often on their own. Jesus gave people space to figure things out, by common sense or deeper awareness of themselves. He loved people as they were, and received their love in the forms of hospitality, conversation, fellowship and laughter.
Mary learned from Jesus first hand what God’s love looked like. She gave generously, extravagantly and lovingly, and her gesture filled the whole room that evening, embracing all in attendance.
As we have the same teachers, the multitude of examples, and our own creative minds with which to work, let us each take advantage of these master classes in love and put them to good use in extravagantly loving someone today.
About the author
The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.
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