#Holy Week: costly (& fragrant) worship

 “Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfumed oil.”  (John 12:3)

When we first meet Mary and Martha in the Gospels, Martha is busy in the kitchen while her sister, Mary, sits at the feet of Jesus. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus once again dines with them in Bethany. Since this visit comes after Jesus raised their brother Lazarus from the dead, we can imagine Martha worked long and hard in the kitchen preparing a special feast. We don’t hear any complaining from her this time, just “Martha served.”

On this Monday of Holy Week, we remember Mary’s act of fragrant worship anointing the feet of Jesus with costly perfume. I’d like to imagine Martha sitting next to her with a towel (so nothing stained the carpet.)

Sometimes I resonate more with Martha – getting things done, cooking in the kitchen, a make-it-happen person. Other times, I aspire to be like Mary – sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words, basking in His presence, wiping His feet with fragrant worship.

Navigating our lives of faith, it’s really both and, not either or. Mary made a gesture of costly worship, but consider Martha’s intrinsic role in the household. If Mary blew a whole year’s worth of wages, wouldn’t Martha have a say in it? In a sense, this sacrificial act of worship came from both of them, but in different ways.

Just like at times our acts of costly worship can take different forms – changing diapers, care-giving, teaching, leading a team, studying, reaching out to colleagues (even irascible ones), giving of ourselves (our presence & presents), spending time in prayer and adoration (even when we’re slammed), laying down our lives for others.

All we do can be acts of worship, costly perfume, if we offer them up to Jesus and do them with the fragrance His extravagant love.

grace, peace & fragrant worship

Virginia : )

“We have three things to do…Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.”   I Corinthians 13:13 (The Message)

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Passion Sunday & The Cross of Christ

Today is Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday, when we recount palm waving Hosannas, the Last Supper, the agony in Gethsemane, the betrayal, trial, scourging, crucifixion, and the body of Jesus getting put into a grave. We’ll revisit these events throughout Holy Week, but next Sunday is Easter so today there’s lots to contemplate.

At the center of everything is the Cross and love of Jesus Christ, every nail of suffering driven in Him He endured for us that we might know His love and be set free.

“What has the Cross given to those who have gazed upon it and to those who have touched it? What has the Cross left in each one of us? You see, it gives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the faithful love which God has for us. 

A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and save us.”  Pope Francis

A blessed Palm & Passion Sunday to all…

grace, peace & eternal LOVE

Virginia : )

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On this Lenten Saturday, here’s a short quote to contemplate…

“In God is my being, my me, my strength, my beattitude, my good, and my delight.”  Saint Catherine of Genoa

grace, peace & God’s delight (& ours)

Virginia : )

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#LENT: Pumping Up Courage Muscles (with LOVE!)

“Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear.” (I John 4:18)  This is something I say over (& over) again: “God’s perfect love drives out fear.” Seems like there’s always something to be afraid of when fears of all shapes (& sizes) overpower our courage muscles (& not just @ night.)

Fear can cripple our courage muscles to be and do – because we don’t think we’re good enough, or we don’t want to get up again after falling down (failure, once again?)

Watching the Captain Marvel movie, one of my favorite parts is when the bad guys (no spoilers here) get in Captain Marvel’s head with scenes of her failures, but she turns herself around with pictures of how she got back up again & again (from a derby car crash as a child, to picking up a baseball bat after a fast ball knocks her down, to getting back up after falling during military ropes training.)

After she breaks free of failure constraints she then kicks some serious butt… (it’s a seriously fun movie, my big sis-not-a-super-hero-movie fan even enjoyed it.)

Maybe (unlike Captain Marvel) we’re having a hard time getting back up this go round with whatever is facing us, but we’re not alone. That’s the point: GOD’S LOVE is what drives our fears out and strengthens our courage muscles.

“The mystery of God’s love is not that He takes our pains away, but that He first wants to share them with us.” Henri Nouwen

“God is faithful even when we aren’t. When we lack courage, God doesn’t… When the disciples were weak, Jesus was strong. God is greater than our weakness. Our weakness reveals how great God is.” Max Lucado (“A Gentle Thunder”)

grace, peace & courage muscles

Virginia : )

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#LENT: Speaking Truth to Power (of a sort)

On this Lenten Thursday, here’s more about judgment (as per yesterday) but with a different twist.

“Although Jesus taught us not to sit in judgment, He never suggested we turn a blind eye to evil… To speak the truth was obviously to Him more important than to make His listeners comfortable: though, equally obviously, His genuine love gave Him tact, wisdom and sympathy. He was love in action.” J.B. Phillips (from ‘For This Day’)

“It is true that God is our ‘refuge’ but God is also our ‘strength.’ The Christian life is essentially an adventure. We have no right to pray ‘Let me to Thy bosom fly,’ when we should be out in God’s strength fighting the dragons and evil in the world.”  J.B. Phillips

As our Lenten journey takes us closer to Good Friday, remember it’s not just what we’re not doing in our lives of faith (no-no lists) but what we ARE doing for God (our to-do lists) that matters:

Being Light in the dark (DARK) corners of our world.

Being LOVE to the unloved.

Lifting up the oppressed (breaking their chains.)

Sharing the fragrance of hope & joy & peace where evil’s decay has had its way.

grace, peace & (fragrant) to-do lists

Virginia : )

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#LENT: Reforming ourselves (vs. others)

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

Why do we spend so much time judging the specs of dust in others without addressing the dirty planks in our own lives? Guess it’s easier to harp on what’s wrong with others (it’s on them to fix it) whereas if we take a good hard look inside ourselves, we might a few dirty planks hidden away in the depths of our hearts. Instead of ignoring our internal dilapidated state (the easy way out) we need to get busy with our spiritual tools.

Thank God for mercy & grace (& major-league Forgiveness with a capital ‘F.’)

Next time we judge someone – not just out loud to others, but even just in our minds – let’s take a moment to reset our judge-meters to me-meters and take a look at what needs refurbishment inside us.

“You and I must first be what we ought to be; then we shall have cured what concerns ourselves. Let each one do the same, and all will be well. The trouble is that we all talk of reforming others without ever reforming ourselves.” Saint Peter of Alcántara

grace, peace & transformative reform

Virginia : )

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#LENT: Prisms of Hope

Here’s a quickie quote for this Lenten Tuesday:

“Faith goes up the stairs that love has made and looks out the window that hope has opened.” Charles Spurgeon

It’s something to think about – what window has hope opened up in my heart with the healing Love of Jesus?

What do I see out that window?

Possibilities? A new me (or at least a less tarnished & varnished me?)

grace, peace & prisms of Hope

Virginia : )

“Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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