“Commit to Renewal: Unusual Things” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
I hope this week in your Lenten journey has found you with the strength and support to continue on your journey. Every week caries its own unique challenges and joys, and I hold each of you in prayer today. I hope to see you this Sunday for our 11am worship
This week my mom and her friend came to visit from California. We had a great trip together sharing in food, stories, and fun. On the last night that they were here we watched a show that aired a few years ago called, “Better Late Than Never.” It’s a reality comedy show about 4 established celebrities (George Foreman, Terry Bradshaw, Henry Winkler, and William Shatner) and one young comedian (Jeff Dye) as they travel through Asia learning about different cultures and people.
As they made their way through Japan, China, South Korea, and Thailand they were often struck by the varying cultural differences that they each were and weren’t willing to participate in. At the end of each night, they would discuss their different responses to the day’s events as they applied to their own context and sharing with each other things that they would take with them. Which reminded me a little bit about this week’s scripture from the Gospel according to John.
1 Six days before Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, the village of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There, they gave a banquet in Jesus’ honor, at which Martha served. Lazarus was one of those at the table. 3 Mary brought a pound of costly ointment, pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair. The house was full of the scent of the ointment.
4 Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples – the one who was to betray Jesus – protested. 5 ‘Why wasn’t this ointment sold? It could have brought nearly a year’s wages, and the money been given to poor people!” 6 Judas didn’t say this because he was concerned for poor people, but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the common fund and would help himself to it.
7 So Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. 8 You have poor people with you always. But you won’t always have me.” (John 12:1-8)
As Jesus and his disciples traveled to Bethany experiencing cultures, food, and people they took part in things that were both unusual for them but also humbling. Experiences that they would carry with them long after they parted ways. Martha’s food. Mary’s ointment and hair. Lazarus, Judas, and Jesus at the table. All of them playing a different role in the story, and all of them sharing in an experience that would forever change them all.
Jesus reminds us that the moments we share with each other, the joyful, the community building, the uncomfortable, or even the challenging all irrevocably change us. And when we are changed forever, we carry the thing that changed us forever. If it’s something challenging, we learn to reframe it and we carry with us the strength of our courage to overcome it. If it is something wonderful, we carry that joy with us and use it as a source of energy, strength, and support for the rest of our lives.
Friends, what in your life has changed you? How do you carry it with you? Like the men in “Better Late Than Never,” who do you have to share these reflections with? And like Jesus, who has anointed the work you are called to do and who has prepared you to bury the thing you need to let go of? This is what the season of lent is all about; sharing with others the things that change and renew us, and the journey that accompanies the transition. I hope you’ll share this Lenten season with us at The Park.
A quick prayer for your week: Lord, bless the journey of change that greets me today. Amen