Reflections_Week4

Reflection based on “Entering the Passion of Jesus” Week 4 — The First Dinner: Risking Rejection

Liturgy and Design © 2019 worshipdesignstudio.com, adapted by permission.

Scripture References: Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-50, John 12:1-8

Besides the Last Supper, Holy Week contains another important story that happens at dinner. Earlier in the week, Jesus and his followers gather for a meal, and a woman shows up unexpectedly to anoint Jesus in an extravagant show of devotion. To say she caused quite a “stir” might be understating it a bit. We imagine ourselves in the room and we see the looks of judgment and even outrage on the faces around us. Are we ourselves moved by her generosity and outpouring of emotion? Or are we uncomfortable as Jesus refers to his own death? Does our complaining or anger really serve to hide our own fear? Jesus invites us to tell this story “in remembrance of her.” What uncomfortable stories are we called to tell in our time?
 

A prayer for this week:                                                                                Assurance of Pardon and Entering the Peace of Christ:

    It is so hard to not be afraid.

Sometimes our fear makes us less compassionate,                                    Know this: There is no limit on love.

and more judgmental.                                                               Love doesn’t run out,

We think we can ward off getting hurt by holding back,                                and you can start giving more of it anytime.

unwilling to risk putting ourselves out there for the sake of love.                       You are forgiven and freed,

Forgive us, O God.                                                                     encouraged and loved

Encourage us to extravagant acts of love,                                            by a God who wants you to live fully.

     especially when we are frightened.                                                   Let us enter the passion of Christ,

You entered our story through Jesus,                                                      and share the peace of Christ with each other.

now help us to enter fully into the story

of your kin-dom on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

 

Follow the link for a good song to sing with or just listen to –

More Love to Thee, Fernando Ortega @ https://youtu.be/-j-JzJcAz4Y
 
 

During this last week I have watched some news about Covid-19 as all of you have probably done. There are the reports of specific numbers and statistics, some news conferences from our country’s leaders and crisis teams, reports of actions being taken as a result of the pandemic and human interest stories. Some of the information can be classified as being about risk. Many of them actually!

One story stands out to me now is a story of serving one another and of risk that I want to start with. A young woman in Chicago who is a law student had her daily life change by learning that she would now because of this health crisis she would be at home full time. Her campus classes canceled in favor of on-line lectures and submission of all assignments, as well as on-line only access to the library. She found she had lots of free time and spent much of it gathering reports of the changing situations regarding this crisis. She began to feel under-empowered, isolated and lonely. As she knew exercise was one way she had always been able to use as therapy against feeling depressed she decided to get up and ride her bicycle to the store to pick up supplies. Seeing that this simple tasks was difficult for some who were there and disabled or elderly, she thought of a few of her neighbors and realized she might be able to help. She used a social media group of her neighborhood and sent a message that if anyone needed assistance for whatever reason to get needed supplies that she was able to make deliveries on her bicycle for them. Immediately she received lots of requests and began to help. Within hours she also received messages from others who offered assistance in completing these tasks. By the end of last week several other groups have begun offering the same service in their own neighborhoods after hearing from someone who was in this woman’s extended circle of influence.
 
 
Follow the link for a good song to sing with or just listen to –     *Both are beautiful and I couldn’t choose just one.
 

In my reflections about the worship topic I have found that God has been faithful in his promise to always be with us and to teach and guide us in His ways. Earlier in the week, Pastor Jan asked us to all continue being in relationship with one another. As she stated we are very good about caring for one another. I hope you will find that there is no greater way to be servants than to love one another and to share the Good News of Jesus Chris however and with whomever you are able to …

In reading the 4 versions of this story there are some items that we can determine and some we can’t by simply reading. Specifically there are some things we don’t know and some we do.

  • Don’t know

Where the story happened, whose house was it at, what time of day it took place, who this woman was, who it was that was irritated (Judas, the Pharisees, the Disciples, some other people in the room), what the reaction was from the people in the room to Jesus’ response.

  • Do know

Jesus went to a meal with Disciples, there was a Host, a woman entered the room uninvited, she brought an ointment or oil, she anointed Jesus

These 4 gospel accounts don’t agree in the details of the story  We need to remember that the gospels, actually all scripture, include what is true and what is truth. What we discover when studying these particular scriptures is that someone didn’t get all of the story right in the retelling. This does not mean that the scripture is false! Remember that truth in scripture isn’t about having all of the details exactly match in each author’s account. It’s about the message that is being conveyed by the entirety of the story and our reading each story asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and wisdom as we discern what message we are given through our reading and study of it.

This is similar to a method used with school children in early years of reading, where they are read or asked to read a passage from a book and then asked to retell it. While there retelling may not be exact but getting the essence of the passage does have some value.  It is one way to measure the level of understanding and comprehension the child has at that point in time. Educators use this method a number of times with students, usually 3, and use an average or middle scoring to gauge the students progress. In our encountering scripture and wrestling with these differing accounts it is important to remember that in the writing of the gospels the authors did not retell or record these stories as soon as this event/dinner was over. The book of John was believed to have been written some 70 years after the dinner; the book of Mark 30 years after.

When we consider all of these scriptures looking for the parts that are the same we find that all 4 accounts have the same message, that is, truth for us.

The gospel accounts agree that –

  • Jesus was invited to a meal at the table.
  • He had with him some Disciples.
  • There was a Host.
  • While Jesus was there, reclining at the table, there was a woman who came into the room.
  • The woman had a jar/flask containing ointment(nard) with her.
  • She came uninvited into the room, went up to Jesus and began to anoint Him.
  • The account convey the emotion changing to anxiety and angst at the use of the expensive ointment. We can deduct this from someone expressing their feelings with comments like – What! Do you know how expensive that was? Why has it been used like this and not sold for money to give to the poor?
  • Instead of condemning the woman for her actions, what came next was Blessing not Rejection.

 

Here is what I believe we can take away from this story. Our experience and relationship as Christians is blessing not rejection, love in the place of fear, and abundance instead of scarcity. That is the Good News I have found entering into this weeks worship story and it is a reminds me that –

We are called to love others and not reject risking ourselves for the world.

Please understand that doesn’t mean risking our health by ignoring all we are asked to do

in the attempt to slow the progression of this pandemic!

In fact, as a person with a compromised immune system, it means I am keeping myself home and occupied in other ways to share the love of Christ like writing this Blog. It means while staying informed about the current reports, it is not crippling my desire to share and love others in every way I can. He gave me this word and I am passing on to anyone who wants to read it. I am encouraging my children and extended family that while life is continuing in new directions, we are still here for His purpose as His Hands and Feet.

 

Follow the link for a good song to sing with or just listen to –

God of Justice (We Must Go) – Tim Hughes HD @ https://youtu.be/J4vu-MNTYQE

With the Love of Christ, I pray that the peace of Christ is with you,  Connie

Author: Connie Schweitzer, Certified Lay Speaker, NIC – Elgin District, S. Elgin Community United Methodist Church

Date: 3/22/2020