[#pictureLent] March 23: OINTMENT

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By Shannon Vianello
Ocala First United Methodist Church
Children and Family Ministry Director
Ocala, FL

First, read Mark 14:3-9

Over the copy machine, in our church preschool there is a looming sign that says, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

I give myself a busy life. My life could be different but honestly I would be bored. I love events. I love planning events. I love preparing to plan for new events. In fact, I will go out and buy a new binder, sticky notes and decorative markers just to plan for a new event. 

While I am preparing to plan for new events I will procrastinate planning for the mundane daily events in my life. My emails may get behind, my laundry gets done but never folded, I won’t plan for dinner so I will have to go out and spend extra money at the drive thru. My excuse is, “but I am so busy preparing for other things, I’m not ready for what is happening now!” 

I have a love/hate relationship with the scripture of Jesus being anointed by the woman with the alabaster jar. This lady is so prepared I can’t even identify with her. She wasn’t busy, she was just ready. She knew what was coming and lived into it. She had eyes to see and ears to hear. She put culture, religion, and expectation aside to focus on the most important thing.

The woman took a jar expensive perfume, broke it and poured it over the head of Jesus. While the entire room was aghast at the abundant waste of money that was just poured out over Him, Jesus (in Jesus fashion) stopped the room in its tracks and questioned their judgments. In their defense, they said, the money could have been given to the poor. 

Now this is the part in almost every story in the New Testament that turns my firm world of reality on its head. Jesus says “You will always have the poor with you; and whenever you want, you can do something good for them. But you won’t always have me.” Jesus is basically saying what are you waiting for? I am here in front of you and you still won’t completely pour into me. 

The woman in the scripture was ready in the moment. With the oil, she helped Jesus prepare for his own death spontaneously and without hesitation. If Jesus walked through my door right now, would I be prepared to give him all I could? 

I am currently preparing for a food drive for our local school in two weeks, but what if someone hungry came into my office right now. Would I be prepared to help? Jesus says in Matthew 25:35, “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

I spend a lot of time preparing and pouring myself into things to come. This woman spent time pouring over and preparing Jesus. At the same time she was worshipping and loving Him. Love God, Love others. It’s all the same. 

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for your grace with us. Thank you for showing us what is most important and things fall in place when we put our eyes on you. Help us to pour into the right things, with you as the light that guides our thoughts and decisions daily. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Questions for Discussion/Reflection:

1. Where are you pouring out into emptiness? Where God isn’t present?
2. What are you hoarding? Much like the men were appalled at the wasting of perfume, what do you have that you aren’t using but could be used for good.
3. During this season, how can you love God?