Thursday, October 01, 2009

Mark 14:3-9 Reflection, used at Iona Agape Service

**I realize I haven't posted for a while... I'll do more sometime soon, I hope. And I haven't yet actually used this reflection, so I don't have a sense of how it actually works in a congregation, but... for what it's worth. Please feel free to use it, if you find it helpful, but also please tell me if you use it. =)

Reader: While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.

1: Who is she?
2: Where did she come from?
1: What’s the perfume for?
2: Why has she come here?
1: We’re just sitting down to dinner
2: She better not make a scene.

Woman: He acknowledged beauty in me, and I knew it was a risk, but I had to give something back. Where other people picked up quickly on my brokenness, he learned my name and saw me as whole. I gave what I had. It didn’t feel like enough. It couldn’t. But it was something.

Reader: She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head.

1: Yep, she did it. She made a scene.
2: Why did she break the jar?
1: Why did she waste the perfume?
2: Silly girl, you could have gotten a year’s wages for that.
1: It could have been used so much more practically.
2: You could buy a car for that.
1: You could have put it in savings.
2: You could have given it to us.
1: Or at the very least, you could have given it to the poor.
2: And now we’ve got to clean up the mess.
1: Silly, wasteful girl.

Woman: They scolded me, but how could they know? Who were they to judge? I gave as I knew how. Strong perfume, great beauty, from a broken vessel. It wasn’t about the money for me. It was about the gift. And it wasn’t about an effort of will. It was an outpouring of gratitude.

Reader: Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her?

1: We’ll tell you why we’re bothering her.
2: We’re practical.
1: We know the figures about the sinking economy.
2: Good money shouldn’t be wasted on pretty things.

Woman: Acknowledging beauty in the midst of brokenness is never a waste. Giving of oneself is never a waste. Beauty is always a risk, though. Giving is always a risk. Love is always a risk. I gave what I had. I knew the risks, but I had to give anyway.

Reader: She has done a beautiful thing for me.

1: Society sees numbers
W: God sees beauty

2: Society points out brokenness, spilled-ness, emptiness.
W: God points out wholeness, fullness, a cup overflowing with goodness

1: Society values achievement and security
W: God values generosity and love

2: Society says, “Be careful”
W: God says, “Live the life that truly is life”

Reader: She has done a beautiful thing for me.

1: Society says, “Take care of your own”
W: God says, “Love your enemies, and risk everything for the kingdom”

2: Society craves money and success.
W: God craves loving spirits and beautiful actions.

1: Society says, “be smart”
W: God says, “I will use the fools of the world to shame the wise”

2: In society’s eyes, we mustn’t make a scene, we mustn’t be extravagant
W: In God’s eyes, no generosity is to be ashamed of, and no love is too extravagant.

Reader: She has done a beautiful thing for me.

Woman: Have you seen it? Have you encountered beauty that silenced you in awe? Have you heard it? Have you heard someone calling your name and calling out the beauty in you? I did. And I had to respond. I had to give because God’s goodness is too wonderful to keep hidden. What risky beauty will you offer? What extravagant love will you pour into the world?

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I love that you used this story... I like this story, because it seems to thwart all that sensible "simple-living" theology I was brought up on. Not that living simply doesn't have it's place, but so does extravagance and abandon, and-- as you say so wonderfully-- beauty. The story reminds me of the movie "Chocolat" :)

Thanks for posting!