- All age time
- Reading Matthew 26: 6-16 (Good News Bible)
- Prayer for others
Welcome and let us worship God
‘God, hear my cry; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you with fainting heart; lift me up and set me high on a rock” Psalm 61: 1-2
All age time (for 0-100 years)
We gather in worship thinking on the last days of Jesus
before his death on the cross
marvelling at the scale of your love
you invested your all in him
through him you accepted pain suffering and death
to redeem and restore your world
to bring it healing and wholeness
to make us forever your own
in the face of such love we marvel
but are also ashamed
because of the way we live
the way we take things for granted
the way we go against your express commands and guidance
we have behaved in ways that caused hurt
we are sorry and ask your forgiveness
Fill us anew with your spirit
that we may faithfully and truly respond to you in all that we do
Through Christ our Saviour we pray. Amen
Matthew 26: 6-16
Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin-disease. While Jesus was eating, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar filled with an expensive perfume, which she poured on his head. The disciples saw this and became angry. “Why all this waste?” they asked him. “This perfume could have been sold for a large amount and the money given to the poor!”
Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? It is a fine and beautiful thing that she has done for me. What she did was to pour this perfume on my body to get me ready for burial. Now, I assure you that wherever this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Then one of the twelve disciples – the one named Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?” They counted out thirty silver coins and gave them to him. From then on Judas was looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them.
Reflection (what Judas might have thought)
Personally I can’t sand the smell of nard. Most people rave about it, and because a bottle costs so much, they like to have one prominently displayed as a status symbol. The smell sticks in my throat, makes me sneeze, it lingers in my nostrils for ages. But it’s not just the smell that sticks in my throat: the way that whole incident in Bethany rolled out leaves me choked with rage.
Do you know what that woman did? She poured a whole bottle of the stuff over Jesus. She nearly drowned him in it. It ran down his hair, his face, his neck, onto and inside his tunic, and probably spilt onto the floor too. The house was absolutely reeking.
Some folk thought it was wonderful! Cooing away, “What devotion! To sacrifice her richest treasure like that!” Someone said it reminded him of Samuel anointing David as king (as though a great warrior like David would go round smelling like a beauty parlour). Someone else said it was like being in the Temple when they offer up incense on the altar to god. Another person said it was like preparing a body for burial – I know you might want to mask the smell of death, but thanks to her you’d be able to smell a tomb in Jerusalem from the far side of the Sea of Galilee. I found the whole thing embarrassing and disgusting.
I don’t know what possessed her to do it. Some say she’s ‘deep and spiritual’, I’d say she’s ‘fey’. I might even say that she has a head full of unspun sheep’s wool, with not an ounce of common sense in it. I’ve been chewing it over and have come up with a number of options for why she did it, though I’m not sure which is right:
- a sudden spur-of-the-moment thing that had no thought behind it and no real meaning
- a mixture of hero-worship and fancying him – though why would she fancy him?
- maybe she shared the notion of some of the others that when he gets to Jerusalem he will start a revolution and be installed as king. I’d love a revolution, love to see the Romans sent packing, string up the High Priests, the House of Herod and all the rest who live comfortably in their palaces in Jerusalem, amid corruption and greed, and live off the taxes and rents they load on us. But could you really see him as a king? Leading an army against the Romans? Stirring up the masses, transforming the Temple, bringing those in charge to trial? He’s too soft! He’s more at ease with weans, women and wastrels!
- He has talked about death a few times, but then everyone here does. It could be round the corner for any of us. Life here is uncertain and dangerous. I wonder if she thinks it is likely, and wants to make sure he gets the proper rituals? But she was way over the top. It’s not even as though he is a special or important person
Do you know what really gets at me? The sheer waste of money. That perfume was worth thousands. She could have used just a little. She could have sold it and raised money for the poor. What did he do? Tell her she’s a stupid fool? No, he expressed appreciation. When I challenged him about it he said, “The poor will be with you always.” If he is going to spark a revolution, he is supposed to be able to abolish poverty, and bring in peace and justice. It’s not my job to change things, and make it a better world. He should do it. The whole thing has left me feeling angry, confused, distant – and rather disillusioned. I’m not sure where this week is going. I’m not sue how things will work out.
Prayers for others
We want to be with Mary offering you our devotion and commitment
but all too often we are like the other disciples, and back off
or we’re like Thomas and sceptical about things
or like Judas, arguing with you in our hearts
Kindle anew in us the flame of commitment
that we might be wholeheartedly ready to do what you want of us
We pray for all who like Judas feel cut off from those around them
and particularly for those who feel so cut off that they wish to cause harm to others
We pray for those like Jesus who feel isolated and alone
those who feel let down or betrayed
Jesus spoke of the poor being always with us
We pray for those in need in our community, our country and our world
those who do not have enough to eat
those who do not have a home of their own
those worried about work or money
those who do not have access to education, healthcare, safe sanitation and the like
those who long to live in peace and safety
help us to remember that bringing in peace and justice
is not just something to be left to you, or to others
but involves us
We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us
And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen
Secure in God’s love
be steadfast in his service
and the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
rest and remain with you,
today, and every day, and for ever. Amen