Let us strive to know the Lord, whose coming is as sure as the sunrise. He will come to us like the rain, like spring rains that water the earth. Hosea 6: 3
All age time: (for 0-100 years)
if you are collecting together symbols of the story of Holy Week on a tray, for today use a bottle of perfume/after shave/ bubble bath or other ‘smelly’ stuff
Lifted high on your cross,
drawing all folk to you.
Down you came to live among us
part of your creation,
knowing poverty and sorrow,
sharing each temptation.
On the gallows there they nail you
God despised, rejected,
deep within your earth they hide you
till you’re resurrected.
Lord, you looked from your cross
in agony and in love:
you saw executioners in need of forgiveness
you saw a dying man in need of the hope of eternal life
you saw your mother and your friend bereft and grieving
and your thought s were for them
for you knew how faithful and true the Father is
Lord we look at your cross
and are ashamed at our own failings
weakness and lack of faith
Help us to look beyond ourselves
to see where there is need
to trust in your faithfulness and loving care
Through Christ our Lord we pray Amen
Bible reading John 12: 1-11
Hymn 374 From heaven you came
(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 sure how things will work out.
Prayers for others
You see into the hearts and lives of people
and see what their real needs are
We bring you now our prayers for others
trusting that you know far better than we do what people need
and yet you can take and use our prayers
in your work of bringing healing and wholeness
We pray for those who are struggling with unhappy lives
hurting, broken or abusive relationships
for families not speaking
who have lost contact
for people who feel that their life is going nowhere
that no one loves or values them
We pray for the Queen, the governments
for all in positions of leadership in this and every land
We pray for those who don’t have enough to eat
who don’t have somewhere to call home
are worried about family, friends, money, job or home
for all who long to live in peace and safety
particularly in parts of the Middle East and Africa
for those who have fled from their homes seeking safety
for those who offer help
and those who offer only indifference or harm
We pray for those who are lonely, feeling down or grieving a friend or loved one
those waiting for or receiving treatment, and those for whom there is no treatment
those who are ill, those who look after them, and those who worry about them
for all who are affected in any way by the Coronavirus pandemic, here and around the world
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
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