Sometimes we receive such gifts that are quite pricey. Others don’t cost anything at all. What makes a gift something truly beautiful is the heart of the giver and what the gift symbolizes between the giver and the receiver.
I think this is what makes the anointing of Jesus by Mary in the Gospel of John such a beautiful story. It comes just after Jesus has raised Mary’s brother, Lazarus, from the dead and just prior to Jesus entering Jerusalem and thus just prior to his death. Mary took some expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. There are many ways we could consider this act of Mary: an act of gratitude for what Jesus had done for her brother; an act of devotion to the one she called Lord; or an act of tenderness for the feet of one she knew had already come so far and yet still faced the most difficult part of his journey. However we may look at it, I don’t see how anyone can deny the beauty and the love and the intimacy. Mary seems to have really gotten it – she understood who Jesus was and what he must do. And knowing what a beautiful gift he was giving her, this was the best she could think to do. And it was just right.
What better way for those of us who seek to follow Christ to prepare ourselves for the passion and the resurrection than by searching our own hearts for what beautiful gift we may have to share. No matter how lavish or how simple a gift might be, it is the heart of the giver that makes it something beautiful. Do we, like Mary, get it? Do we really understand and appreciate the depth of Christ’s love and sacrifice? Do we have it in our hearts to give the best we have?
Like Mary, when we come before God with such a gift, no matter what others may think, we can rest assured that Christ will make sure the gift is received and then blessed and returned.
We’ll share more about this story in worship on Sunday. If you’re able, I hope you’ll join us. That would be a beautiful gift.
Love and Grace,