In our Homeward bound bible study this week we were discussing the ways in which our congregation had changed over the years. In one group the comment was made that “people used to get dressed in their ‘Sunday best’ for church” and now we don’t. A couple of people suggested that the change was because we had become “slack” but others said it was because we felt welcomed and had freedom to “come as we are”. Two sides of the same coin surely?
Further discussion wound around to the cost of robes the clergy wear (mine included) and the building of huge (beautiful) cathedrals to point towards God and provide places of worship as opposed to giving the money to provide for the poor, the sick and otherwise needy. Isn’t that the center of concern in today’s gospel? Mary offered an extravagant gift in pouring ½ a litre of pure nard on Jesus’ feet. Moreover, she wiped his feet with her hair in a moving act of adoration. Judas argues that the nard should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus supported Mary in her extravagance but derided the Pharisees saying; “They do everything to be seen by people. They increase the size of their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
Surely there is room for both? And, isn’t it really a matter of the heart? Surely the state of the heart is what is most important?
In the world today there are people who devote their lives to God in quiet contemplation and prayer, others go into the slums and feed the poor, some take part in ornate and elaborate worship while others hold hands in lounge rooms, deserts or gardens to pray.
On Wednesday evening a little boy coloured a worksheet and gave it to me as I led intercessions. He said it was a gift for me. Some continue to say, “Children should be seen and not heard in worship”. That will never be the case in any congregation I lead. This little boy coloured and gifted, I prayed to God! Surely God rejoices in us both! Who amongst us has the right to judge? Acts of love, in whatever form they may take, are still acts of love, and for a Christian, they are an extension or mirroring of the love of God.
Love and Blessings