From the Associate Rector
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord, Jesus Christ.
I hope you were able to attend our Seder meal last Sunday. What a dinner party it was! Through the generosity of two of our members, we were blessed with delicious food. Rabbi Andrew Paley of Temple Shalom blessed us with his leadership and guidance. Thinking myself clever, I offered to play the role of the rebellious (alternatively referred to as the “wicked”) child, asking – as outlined in the script – “What does this meal mean to you?” Perhaps I should have read ahead in the script, for the answer to this question took me by surprise:
“This meal reminds me of what God did for me when I came out of Egypt. If you had been there (with your attitude), you would not have been redeemed.”
That’ll teach me to embrace my rebellious nature!
This weekend, we reflect on another meal. This meal took place six days before the Passover in that fateful year when our Lord was crucified. Just before Jesus enters Jerusalem for the last time, he and his disciples stop at the home of some of his favorite people: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus, John reminds us, is the one Jesus had raised from the dead.
These three siblings give a dinner party for Jesus. Martha serves (of course). Though she’s still serving, something has changed in her. Gone is the “worried and distracted” woman who once complained when her sister sat at Jesus’ feet to learn from him instead of helping her in the kitchen. Since then, Martha has come face-to-face with her brother’s death, and has made a profound confession of faith: “Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (John 11:27). No longer could anyone say to Martha “if you had been there with your rebellious attitude, you would not have been redeemed”, for she recognizes in Jesus the face of her redeemer.
Then there’s Lazarus. Having died and been resurrected, he sits at the table sharing a meal with his redeemer. What I’d give to listened in as Lazarus talks with Jesus about physical, actual, embodied, resurrected life.
Mary is there, too. Mary, who once abandoned her responsibilities in the kitchen to sit at the feet of her Lord, now approaches Jesus with pound of costly perfume, pouring out every drop on his feet (his feet!) until the whole house is filled with fragrance. Pouring out the most expensive thing she has, anointing her Lord before his death, Mary sacrifices. She doesn’t count the cost. She doesn’t think of her future without this costly nard or the revenue it could bring. She gives … abundantly.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” Jesus says (John 10:10).
Mary has received abundant life. She understands that abundant life isn’t about having, but about loving; isn’t about counting material costs, but about ensuring that one’s life counts; isn’t about counting one’s many blessings, but about blessing God with every fiber of one’s being.
Six days before the Passover, the clock of Jesus’ life ticking down, three siblings give all they have to their Lord.
And here we are: one week before Palm Sunday, the clock of Jesus’ life ticking down. What will we give to our Lord? What will we pour out to anoint the feet of “the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world?”
My redeemer is at the table, offering abundance beyond my wildest dreams. How will I respond? Will I cling to my role as the rebellious child or will I grow as Martha grew, give as Mary gave, live as Lazarus lived?
See you this weekend.