April 8, 2020 Vesper
Wednesday Vesper Meditation
Wasn’t today glorious! I hope you, like me, got outside just a bit to enjoy the sunshine. After the cold, and snow and rain of winter, we needed this. It even makes our social distancing a little easier to handle because we at least see people out walking and know we are not alone.
Thank you so much for joining me as we virtually worship together during Holy Week. This live streaming is a whole new skill set for me. I will appreciate your comments later so I can continue to learn and fine-tune what I am doing for the next couple of nights of our vespers.
As you recall during the month of Lent we have been looking at each day in the last week of Jesus’ life as recorded by the writer of the Gospel of Mark. So, I thought tonight we would look again at what happened on Wednesday. There were three events mentioned, the plotting of the High priest to do away with Jesus, his being anointed by an unnamed woman and Judas’ going to the priests and offering to betray Jesus. Let us focus on the actions of that woman.
Read Mark 14:3-9.
She is different from the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet in the house of the Pharisee as recorded in Luke. Scholars debate whether these two accounts are one event remembered differently or that at different times people anointed Jesus as a sign of blessing and love. In Mark she anoints the head of Jesus with a costly ointment, the value being a year’s wage for a common laborer. Many scold her for the waste, but not Jesus. He celebrated what she did. Why? Because she alone of all those who heard Jesus three prophecies of his death and resurrection believed him. She, through her actions, challenges us to listen, believe, and then act.
How does this story help us prepare for the days to come? You probably like Jenny and I, are trying to figure out how to enjoy a bit of the traditions and joys of holy week and Easter at such an unsettled time. We are planning a nice Easter dinner. We plan to get dressed nicely for Easter and to check in with all of our family as we celebrate the good news.
Before Easter, I am trying to hear the challenge in this woman’s actions. She heard Jesus talk of his death and believed. I ask myself, “Am I really hearing Jesus call to sacrifice?” Can perhaps this time of enforced inactivity and social distancing be a reminder to me that life is not all about my wants and desires?
I think of a story I heard on the news. A high school senior, in learning that she would be out of school for a time, at that moment none of us knew it would be for the rest of the year, she and a friend, volunteered to watch their neighbor’s children because their parents are in the health care profession. They talked about all the precautions they are taking so they don’t get sick. When the reporter asked if they were upset that they were not getting to hang out with their friends and that they would have to do their homework late at night she said, “This is not about me. It is about giving back to others who are giving for us.” This was long before people began to celebrate our health care for the sacrifices they are making. To use my terms, she listened and sacrificed realizing that life is not all about my wants and desires.
Where can I push myself to grow in faith? Do I need to sacrifice a few minutes of “me” time for added prayer and devotions?” Do you set goals for yourself each day as to how to live? One of my personal challenges is to try to eliminate negative talk.
This makes me also ask, “How can I share love and care with others even at times like this? Have you called people from the church this week? Have you sent out a few encouraging emails? Gay Lyn sends out an upbeat email to a group of us several times a week. I look forward to it as it brightens my day.
Jesus continually tried to get his followers prepared for the challenges to come. He knew what Thursday and Friday were bringing. They tried to ignore and challenge the thoughts that God’s love is a sacrificial love. May we, tonight contemplate what we need to do, how we need to change to prepare.
If you plan on joining me again tomorrow night, I ask you to have some juice or wine and a piece of bread or a cracker with you. I don’t want you to go out to the store and buy something. Just look around for what you have on hand. We will be hearing the story of that last meal Jesus had with his disciples and at the end, we will share communion together.
Now, let us pray:
God of life and love, we thank you for your Son Jesus, who came to share the message of your incredible love for us. We confess that we, like his disciples, sometimes want to ignore messages of sacrifice. May we like the woman hear and do what we can as an offering to you. We know that anything we do out of love is as precious to you as her gift of anointing was to Jesus. Prepare our hearts and lives anew for the messages of days to come in this holy week. Amen.