Worship at Home for Sunday April 3

Dear Friends,

This Sunday is the Fifth Sunday in Lent. We are continuing are Lenten Journey of mending broken places. This Sunday Jesus’s feet are lovingly anointed with expensive perfume by Mary the sister of Lazarus who was raised from the dead by Jesus. Judas criticizes Mary. Jesus calls on him to leave her alone. One way to mend a broken community is to refrain from criticizing one another. Loving God, help us to do so.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • The Dorcas meeting on Monday will be in the kitchen at 6pm or when you can make it.
  • Handbell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm
  • Lent Prayer Worship at 6:30 on Wednesday
  • Chancel Choir practice after Lenten Worship
  • Baskets are in the back of the church to contribute to Ukraine Relief.
  • Dorcas Sponsored Brunch to raise funds for Ukraine Relief on Palm Sunday, April 10 at 10am.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie De Long

Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8

Sermon: Leave Her Alone

Christmas dinner was ready. My brother-in-law, David, and I had cooked the Christmas meal at their home in Orlando. We had worked hard for hours to create a holiday meal. My sister had lovingly set the table for Christmas dinner. Rondel (my late husband), David and I complimented her on the way the table looked. David’s parents and my mother then arrived to eat the Christmas feast. The food was ready to be served, but there was a problem.

My mother did not like the way my sister had set the table. The tablecloth was wrong. The dishes were wrong. The napkins were wrong. The candles were wrong. The vase for the flowers were wrong. I said, “Leave her alone, it looks great! Plus, the food is ready to be served.”

But my mother could not leave her alone. She insisted that the table be completely reset to her specification. A different tablecloth and napkins were discovered and re-ironed. A fancier set of dishes came out of the cabinet. The vases were gone through until the one that met my mother’s approval was found. Everything that my sister had used to lovingly decorate the Christmas dinner table was removed and replaced by my mother and sister. Until my mother exclaimed, “Now doesn’t this look so much better!”

This whole process took over half an hour. During this time, David and I remained in the kitchen trying to keep the food which had been ready to serve warm. David who had a background in culinary and hotel motel management joked with me about how the kitchen always complained that catering was always the problem. We both felt bad for my sister. Why couldn’t the table be left alone?

In John 12:1-8, we are told of a meal at the home of Lazarus in Bethany. Lazarus has recently been raised from the dead by Jesus. Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha are extremely grateful to Jesus for this astounding miracle. So, they host a meal for Jesus’ and his disciples. I imagine that Martha prepared and served an amazing meal to express her gratitude. To show here gratefulness, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair.

This loving scene is interrupted by Judas’ criticism of Mary and the very expensive perfume that she used. He asserts that the perfume should have been sold to raise money for the poor instead of being used anoint Jesus. Funny, Judas does not take Martha to task for the cost of the food which he has been eating. Selfishness echoes in this complaint. I wonder if Mary’s eyes welled up with tears in response to the criticism of her loving gesture. Then Jesus says, “Leave her alone.”

Jesus defends Mary’s lovingly extravagant gesture. Jesus also hints of his death and crucifixion to come. Jesus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and the disciples would have heard about the plots to kill Jesus. With the scent of pure nard filling the room, Jesus’s defensive of Mary suggests that all of them need to celebrate now for harder days are to come.

What motivates us to point fingers at one another? To dismantle the loving work that another has done. Do we want to set ourselves up as superior? Do we want to make another person feel less? Are we upset because our schemes have been thwarted? Why do we grumble with each other?

Sometimes we all need to pause for a moment. Would Jesus say to us, “Leave her, him or them alone.”? If yes, then maybe we need to be quiet. Let other people serve and love God in their way. And no matter how sorely tempted we are to change it, let the Christmas dinner table remain as it was lovingly set by another.

Prayer:

God of love and life, we give you thanks and praise. May we be truly grateful for all that You have done for us. Help us to resist the temptation to criticize others who express their love of Jesus differently then we would. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Marcie and Porter, Jaqueline, Friends of Shelby, and for peace in the world in Ukraine and other war-torn places.
Joy: Paulette is doing better.

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