Thursday, October 02, 2014

To Love is to Serve, to Serve is to Love

Shortly before the Passover, Jesus stayed at the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. It had not been too long since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and returned him to his sisters. Understandably, they decided to host a dinner party to honor Jesus. The disciples were no doubt thrilled, because everyone loves a party.

            Mary had memories swirling in her mind as the meal was being served. “If you had been here my brother would not have died!” she once said to Jesus, as much accusation as statement of faith. She remembered Jesus not responding to her sharp words, but rather crying with her over Lazarus. She remembered the trepidation she felt as Martha warned Jesus not to open the tomb because of the smell. She remembered the struggle in her heart and soul as she wondered if life could really conquer death. She remembered the longest moment of her life – those seconds between Jesus calling Lazarus back from death and Lazarus responding. She remembered the joy of seeing Lazarus alive again and taking him home. She remembered how the time of mourning for Lazarus turned into an incredible resurrection party!

            Mary’s heart was full to overflowing with gratitude towards Jesus for all the ways he had blessed her life and those of her family and friends. Then Mary remembered that she had a way to show her love and appreciation to Jesus. She silently went to her room and retrieved the perfume. She silently began to pour the perfume on the feet of the man who had taught her both the joy and the meaning of life. As the fragrance of the perfume filled the room, tears filled Mary’s eyes and sobs of joy released from her heart. It was an amazing moment.

            Holy moments, however, are not for everyone and it made Judas particularly uncomfortable. So he objected: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” But Jesus would have none of this and he defended Mary. “Leave her alone, it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.” Jesus said.  Mary loved Jesus and she knew how to express that love appropriately.

            A week later, Jesus wanted to show his disciples how much he loved them. He took a page from Mary’s playbook and washed the feet of his disciples - another holy moment. Judas was there, now with clean feet. The disciples were nervous about Jesus washing their feet, but despite Jesus telling them that they should do this for one another, no one took the towel or basin and washed Jesus’ feet.

            Every since then some Christians have simply ignored Jesus’ command and example to wash one another’s feet. Some Christians have turned it into a religious ceremony where people with clean feet (they know it is happening and come prepared) have their feet washed. Jesus, meanwhile, is still looking for disciples to show his love through their service – to serve is to love and to love is to serve. They cannot be divided. But when they are practiced – another holy moment happens.

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