Good morning all and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Our theme at the CoOp this morning concludes our temptations theme with “the temptation to be stingy.” I have been mentioning this to people all week and they respond, “oo, that is one for me.” We might all respond the same way. There is something in us…well, I can speak for myself…something in me that wants to hold on to things for myself. This includes money, time, and emotion. I want to hold on to what I have at times. I get greedy with it. For me, the opposite of this is generosity. It takes practice and work to be generous.
I would have responded perhaps the same way to Mary that the disciples do. What is she doing? We could do other things with that money? We could hold onto it and make sure that we could work with it! But overall it becomes a question of motivation and recognizing the sacred moment. To be stingy, you have to have whatever it is in abundance and then deliberately hold onto it. Yes, I have the time but I won’t give it up for x. Yes I have an abundance of money and yet I will hold onto it for someday.
Instead Mary recognizes that this is a moment in time of the sacred and pours out the perfume all over his feet. Later on if you are at the CoOp I will talk about some nuances here of feet vs. head, the little clues John gives us about what is to come and the fact that it is muy dangerous for Jesus to come back to Lazarus house (remember yesterday just before this Jesus is in big trouble and hides). But in the meantime. let’s realize that we might react and the disciples react out of the practical and Mary reacts out of the sacred. She anoints for burial while we want to talk about the logistics. Preparing for burial was a religious act. She makes the moment a holy and sacred at of worship. When we don’t see that we miss the power and significance of the moment. The stingy makes us miss the sacred while the generosity opens up worship.
What if we lived that way? What if we lived as though moments of generosity were holy and sacred moments in the everyday? How would that change today?
When we talked about this passage at Bread and Wine on Wednesday one of our worshipers offered up some homework so I will challenge you to do the same today. He challenged us to spend 5 dollars or the equivalent in time or emotion to someone this week and then take note about how it changes the situation. Report back if you would like.