Saturday 20 March 2021

Lent 5 2021 John 12v1-8


The wilderness and the dry lands shall blossom

The wasteland will be cultivated

It will bring forth flowers like a rose.

The desert will flood with water

The scorched earth will become as a lake

And the parched land, spring with water.


Song “Santo, Santo”


A moment of quiet to reflect upon the week 


On this Sunday morning in the multi coloured company of your people, we celebrate your creation, your life, your death and resurrection, your interest in us. So to you we pray;

Lord bring new life where we are worn and tired, new love, where we have turned hard hearted, forgiveness, where we feel hurt and where we have wounded, and the joy and freedom of your Holy Spirit where we are the prisoners of ourselves. Amen.


Lords Prayer in our own language


Young People “I am a City on a Hill”

Reading John 12v1-8


Reflection : "Real worship"


Throughout the world where women make up over half the population, many women are still treated as objects and worse. Every 3 minutes a woman is beaten, every 5 minutes a woman is raped, every 10 minutes a little girl is molested. Even today women are not given their names and treated as if they don’t count when they have a place in Gods new community, the church.  So how should women be treated and how did Jesus treat them?


This is the story of Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus who Jesus raised from the dead. Mary, we are told, had many followers among the Jews who came to believe in Jesus through her. (11.45) In the previous chapter in Johns gospel, Mary plays a subordinate role to Martha in the story of the raising of her brother, Lazarus. It is Martha who recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah (11v27). Jesus performs a miracle, bringing Lazarus back from the dead. It is no wonder that Mary wants to worship Jesus. In this story in John chapter 12 she plays the main part. We know from the other gospels that a woman anointed Jesus and it is inferred that she is a sinner (Luke10v38-42) At the meal at Bethany. Martha was again serving the guests at the table (Luke 10v40) Martha had been fulfilling a diakonal role of serving. The two sisters are entertaining on a Sunday evening, the day subsequently the early church broke bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus as he commanded us to do. 


Mary’s anointing Jesus feet reminds us of the stories in the other gospels but here she is named by John as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus. The detail that she wiped away the anointment with her hair is omitted by the other gospels, maybe because such an action was too intimate and uncomfortable for onlookers to deal with. Mary’s actions point forward to the Last Supper where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples.  In Mark 14v4 and Mathew 26v8 we are told some of the disciples objected to such a waste of money. The perfume in the form of nard was expensive more expensive then some of the perfumes today. In Johns gospel we are told it is Judas who objects (grumbler-contrasts with Mary). Jesus response is harsh “Leave her alone”! This is true worship, true love, true discipleship. The messianic confession of Martha, recognizing Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, in the previous chapter and the anointing of Jesus for his burial by Mary point to the death and resurrection of Jesus. 


Mary is one of the women who witness the crucifixion (19v25-7). Jesus calls even women to be his disciples (Mark 3v31-35) and his reputation suffers because he mixes with them. Who are my mother and father, my brothers and my sisters? We are all potentially Jesus family! (Quite a thought!) This is the new community that Jesus has called, made up of outsiders, common and unreligious people (Mark 10v29-30). 


So how does this story of Mary at Bethany enrich the story of salvation? Well we understand from it that women, even sinners, possibly prostitutes can not only follow Jesus, be prt of the Christian family,  but also be prophetic, foretell the future and show discernment to Gods will.


And what was Mary thinking and feeling at this time? I think she acted out of pure devotion and gratitude to Jesus for healing her brother. She loved him and worshipped him. She knew who he was and what would happen. And she is a legacy for us because of what she has done. Her story is preached every where as part of the gospel “in memory of her” as Mark said it would be (Mark14v9). 


Prayers of intercession for our world, for our countries, for our communities, our families and friends and ourselves. 


Song “Im no longer a slave”




The eyes of the blind will be opened

The ears of the deaf will be unstopped

The lame shall leap like a deer

And the tongue of the dumb shall sing.




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