Please take a moment and pray this prayer with me before we begin this reflection:
God, we gather today in gratitude for all the good gifts of creation that declare your praise. As we move deeper into this season of Lent, show us how to recognize your beauty and to offer praise. Give us ears to hear your word, eyes to see your face, and courage to follow the path you set before us. Through Christ we pray. Amen.
If you’ve never seen the movies Babette’s Feast or Chocolat, I’d highly recommend checking them out. To get a feel for what they’re like, I put one clip below; it is part of the feast portion of Babette’s Feast.
The theme from this week’s lesson was really about maintaining the balance between the spiritual and the material. We learned about the Gnostics, early Christians who had a strong desire to clearly separate the material world and the spiritual world. You can learn a lot more about Gnosticism here on Wikipedia if you’d like. Have any of you heard about the Gnostics before? If not, what about that idea that material things are bad and spiritual things are good?
Perhaps you haven’t heard it in those exact terms, but I wonder if you’ve heard folks talk about being a Christian means living “simply” – and in many ways, there is some truth to that. But can you be a Christian and still have an iPad (good Lord I hope so…!)? Can you be a Christian and enjoy the ‘finer’ things in life? Those are some of the types of questions that the author discussed in the lesson from this week.
If you didn’t read the passage yet, take a moment to read John 12:1-8 here, the story of the anointing of Jesus.
What is your “take away” from the story? What do you find most shocking? What do you find most comforting? How does the above image help give you a greater sense of the sensuality of the story of the anointing of Jesus? When you read the story, are you amazed at the beauty and sacrificial quality of the anointing of the woman? Or do you find yourself, a little bit like Judas and the disciples, asking yourself, “Doesn’t that seem kind of like a waste though?”
What a gesture of love the woman offers to Jesus. In many ways, she offers everything that she has…that jar of pure nard…almost 3/4 of a pound, could have been her ticket to freedom. She could have used that to travel, to live in luxury for awhile…and she decided to give all that up to worship and love Jesus.
Do we offer Christ everything that we have? Everything that we are? I’m guessing that sometimes, we do. But I’m also assuming there are many other times when we give less than everything to Christ. That we give less than everything to the one who gave us all, through giving up his life on the cross.
I’m not sure what we do with that knowledge…but I think it’s worth pondering as we prepare and get even closer to the time during our church year when we remember the cross, the passion and then celebrate that life comes out of death, that death was defeated, that Christ was raised.