Good morning all! And a special birthday shout out to Grandpa! He turns 93 today!!! Woohoo!
Today’s scripture: John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary 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. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
This morning I was wondering what it means to anoint someone. We hear about anointing in scripture and today that anointing is a bit unusual but because of the circumstance, not necessarily the action. The literal definition is to smear or rub oil on someone. But there must be so much more than just putting oil on someone. That is the action, what is the meaning of being anointed?
Interesting…I found probably the best description on Atheism.com….ha! This website lays out that anointing with oil came from our ancient ancestors because oil was so rare and costly. Therefore, it was so precious that it would be used for religious ceremonies. Usually, a cleric would sanctify the oil and make it holy to place a mark on the person. Within that ceremony, the person would be marked for God. The anointing would mark the person in service to God. Priests were anointed to signal their dedication to God. When anointed, one is also sanctified because the oil is sanctified…they are made spiritually and ritually pure…ready for God.
In the church, we anoint people when they are baptized to say that God has claimed them, they are part of God’s family. I have some colleagues that love anointing to allow people to remember that they are part of God’s kingdom right now. And in Mary’s time, anointing would have come at death as well to mark that a person was ready to be reclaimed by God. In death they would be made spiritually and ritually pure. So this story really takes on a beautiful theme. She is readying Jesus for God’s work and Jesus seems to be the only one to get it.
Mary has turned the anointing practice on its head because it is just any old day to many others…out of place. She uses costly oil…out of context for many. She anoints Jesus…why this person? She is a friend who takes the practice of anointing the head and moves to the feet…out of the ordinary practice. She changes how we will all see what it means to be anointed.
Plus anyone can do the anointing and can be anointed. Jesus will talk about anointing with the spirit so we aren’t just limited by oil. I feel as though I have been anointed with words as well as oil in the past. Where and when have you been anointed? Where and when have you been set aside for God’s world and been claimed by God in God’s kingdom? Could you be re anointed today?
Take a moment to just breathe in the world. Prepare for what is to come this week. Prepare for unexpected moments. And now feel yourself be anointed by God to set you back in this world as God’s. Amen.