Extravagant Generosity and Beauty

Dearly Beloved,

Last week, we heard about prodigal grace -- overflowing, extravagant grace! This week's scripture (John 12:1-8) tells a story of extravagant generosity and beauty.

Less than a week before Jesus' passover supper with his friends in Jerusalem, he goes to Bethany to visit his dear friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha gifts Jesus with hospitality, food and a comfortable place to stay. But Mary comes out with a pound of costly perfume and pours it over Jesus' feet.

The aroma of the perfume immediately fills the house. And with it, the critics' voices: "Why wasn't this sold and the money given to the poor?" That's what was asked, but we can imagine the other questions and criticisms, too: "What a waste! She could have given it all to Jesus, but allowed him to use just a little bit at a time." "Doesn't she know what we really need is new shoes? What a wasteful gift?" "Mary, Mary, Mary. Always making a scene. This is more about her ego than anything else. She just wants to be that woman." And we can go on imagining the judgment and the comments.

And the truth is, it's easy for us to think of those judgments, too. About whatever it is. It's easy for us to criticize others' actions or to be too afraid of people's opinions to take such bold and brazen action ourselves. The voice of judgment in our own minds can paralyze us -- keep us from sharing our own gifts and beauty. Our desire to be productive or useful gets in the way of us creating beauty. I have to say, as I read this scripture again, I'm grateful to live in a community that values beauty so very much -- all you have to do is walk around our downtown area, admiring the murals that add color to our common spaces, noticing sculptures whimsical or abstract, but all beautiful. 

Beauty is, after all, one of those things that brings us to God: whether it's music played on a Sunday morning, the snow-capped mountains, a photograph or sculpture, or the scent of jasmine or fresh baked-bread.

This Sunday, we will be celebrating a gift created for our congregation by Dawna Depperschmidt -- a piece of artwork that she made for us. 

This week, may your eyes be open to beauty. And may you be bold enough to share it with others. 

With love and blessings,
Thandiwe