St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church: Fifth Sunday in Lent
Mar 21, 2013 | 686 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections on sinners; grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Response: Psalm 126 was led by David Maitland. * (verse 4) “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.”

The First Reading was read by Arthur Clark: Isaiah 43:16-21. Isaiah told the Israelites to forget about how God saved them from the Egyptians. He now wants them to know that they will be led into the wilderness by God’s path, and will be provided for with food and water from Him.

The Second Reading was read by John Greve from Philippians 3:4-14. Paul tells them that he is confident in Christ’s love regardless of who he is or what he has done. He is willing to suffer anything for Christ’s name for it is worth it to gain salvation. Righteousness comes through faith in Christ and becoming like him in order to obtain the resurrection. He urges them to press on through faith in Christ, forgetting what lies behind them and move forward to what lies ahead.

Reverend Gina Frnka read the Gospel according to John 12:1-8. This passage takes place six days after the Passover in Bethany. Jesus goes to Lazarus’ home to visit and partake of a meal. Martha was serving them, but Mary took out some expensive perfume and began to anoint Jesus’ feet. It was unusual to use perfume for cleaning the feet, and Judas criticized her for wasting so much money that could have been used to feed the poor. When Judas made his remark it was a discordant note in the peaceful setting. Jesus told him to leave her alone. She bought it to use for the day of his burial. “You will always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Reverend Frnka explained that the many Jews were afraid to follow Jesus because the Romans might punish them and take away their land and possessions. These events are occurring right before Jesus was to be tried and crucified. Lazarus was the man that Jesus had raised from the dead and Mary and Martha were his sisters. Jesus was having dinner with them when this event happened.

Using expensive perfume for this might be considered extravagant, but Jesus felt it was justified. He often used extravagance when he was teaching or performing miracles. When he turned the water into wine, he made it the best wine and more than what was needed. When he filled the fishermen’s nets, he had them so full they could hardly lift the nets. When he fed the crowd of 5000 he multiplied the fish and bread to feed the crowd and some was even left over. This could be the promise that God will give us an abundant life.

Extravagance of love can be in our hearts when we worship Christ. It was not that Jesus did not care about the poor, but He felt that at this particular moment it was an appropriate gesture of Mary’s spiritual love and desire to honor him. Some want to use extravagant objects or places when interacting with Jesus and showing him love. The beautiful churches that are created and the sacramental items used may at times seem extravagant, but it should only be to show honor to God in the worship service. We do need to be careful how we use our resources of time and money. Christ was always caring for the poor when he was on Earth. When you do something for someone in need, you are doing it for Christ. There needs to be a balance and appropriateness in how we use what God has put us in charge of. We are his stewards of all he has given us. We are his disciples.

Next Saturday there will be a work time to prepare the church for Palm Sunday. We then look forward to Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

PIM web site.
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