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  • Writer's picturePhil



For all whose day starts with anxiety, as they leave the security of home worrying about the risk of infection; particularly those whose health or age classifies them as vulnerable. Loving God, be close, keep them safe, along with all whose tasks today includes the care of frail and elderly. And for all of us, grant wisdom to make sensible choices, not just for ourselves, but for everybody.

Help us to put aside preconceptions about other people, because that alters our behaviour, and simply accept that they, like us, are precious in your eyes.

In the tradition of John Birch, from “Faith and Worship”

JOHN 12:1-8 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany,

where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.

Then Mary took about half a litre of pure nard, an expensive perfume;

she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him,

objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?

It was worth a year’s wages.’ He did not say this because he cared about the poor

but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself

to what was put into it. ‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.

You will always have the poor among you,

but you will not always have me.’

Extravagant God,

lavishing your love

on our poverty of heart:

inspire us to give with generosity,

to love life

so that we may find it again,

and thus the world

will be filled with the fragrance

of your love;

through Jesus Christ,

who offers himself for us.

The Anglican Church of Canada

Extravagance moves both ways.

It's reciprocal, both given and received,

by both God and his people.

Sometimes God is the giver; at other times we are.

At the wedding party in Cana, God provided a surplus of wine.

At the dinner party in Bethany, Mary gave a gift of expensive perfume.

Whether divine or human, given or received,

these acts of reckless abundance are signs of what life is like with the living God.

At Cana, the divine excess was for a wedding celebration.

At Bethany, Mary's extravagance foretold of an imminent death.

If the suspiciously similar-but-different story in Luke 7:36–50

describes the same event, the anointing of Jesus by a woman

is one of the rare stories that's told in all four gospels.

It was a powerful memory for the earliest believers.

Jesus says her act was so singular that from that time forth,

"wherever this gospel is preached,

what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

And how's this for unintended irony — Matthew and Mark never name this person; they simply call her "a woman." Luke describes her as "a sinful woman."

There's a long history of identifying the woman as Mary Magdalene,

although the gospels never say this.

John alone tells us that it was Mary, the sibling of Martha and Lazarus.

At this dinner to thank Jesus for the generosity of Lazarus's return to life,

Mary poured a pint of pure nard imported from India on his feet.

Then she wiped his feet with her hair.

The aroma filled the house, the sweet fragrance of faith.

Mary shows us the way.

She did what she could, in response to God's infinite goodness,

offering her unbounded gratitude.

How can I anoint Jesus at such a time as this?

What generous act on my part would please Jesus in this Pandemic?

Based on an article by Dan Clendenin, The Journey with Jesus webzine

Extravagant and generous God,

help us to learn from you.

May we who are so adept at catering for our own wants,

make ourselves more vulnerable

to the needs of others.

Let us live unselfishly

and more sensitively,

that we may spread love’s fragrance

wherever the odour of cynicism

and despair hangs in the air.

Through Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Bruce Prewer


Like Mary,

Generous in making sure He knew He was welcome,

Generous in my full-attention towards Him, listening intently,

More-than-generous in my thanks to Him?

Like Martha,

Practical, getting on with what needs doing,

Making sure everything is as good as it could be for Him,

Generous in hosting Him and making Him welcome.?

As the sisters welcomed Jesus into their home,

how welcoming am I to Jesus?

Am I generous towards Jesus

in giving Him my full attention, my time,

in extending the fullest hospitality I can towards Him?

Jesus said to Martha and Mary:

“I am the resurrection and the life”.

How do I live that in my life?

Jesus said, as he raised Lazarus: “Untie him and let him go”

Are there things that need untying in my own life?

Should I ask His help to move me “from death to life”?


God of laughter and tears,

teach us to laugh at ourselves, at our petty preoccupations.

Let our laughter lure us deep beneath the terrors without names, beneath the questions without answers, beneath the pain

without relief.

How deep are your thoughts to me,

O God,how great is the sum of them.

Were I to count them they are more

in number than the grains of sand upon the sea-shore,

and still I would know nothing

about you -still you would hold me

in the palm of your hand.

Hands that touched the leper,

touch my wounded heart; Hands that healed the blind man,

heal my aching soul; Hands that cured the lame,

mend my disjointed life; Hands that embraced Lazarus from death back to life,

enfold me in your peace. Lord, merely touch and heal,

cure and forgive. Giles Harcourt

May today there be peace within you. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing that you are a child of God. Let His presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance,

and bask in the sun.

May you be foolish in the way you live,

rejoicing in God’s love for you

and for all……..

Alcoholics Anonymous

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