Lent 5C – She’s All In
March 13, 2016
My dad used to tell a story about his uncle Henry.
Henry had a car – I don’t know what kind of car it was,
but it was a nice car (for the 1950’s anyway)!
Henry spent a lot of time washing and waxing this car.
It was always in perfect shape.
But even if Henry hadn’t spent so much time on it,
it would be in great shape … because Henry never drove it!
It stayed at home.
Sometimes his excuse would be the weather –
he didn’t want to go out in the rain because mud would get on the tires;
he didn’t want to go out in the snow because of the salt on the undercarriage.
If it wasn’t the weather, Henry’s excuse would be the children –
he didn’t want to drive with children in the car
because they might kick the seats and get dirt on them.
And don’t get Henry started on other drivers –
if there was the slightest chance of traffic he wasn’t going to go out –
it was too risky for him –
even on the back roads of New Hampshire in the 1950’s.
Henry had an excuse for everything…
He loved his car,
but everything prevented him from driving it.
His prized possession –
his most expensive purchase –
stayed in the carport, day in and day out.
Here’s where I think uncle Henry and Jesus’ disciple Mary were different.
Mary might have loved that car just as much as Henry –
but she wouldn’t have kept it at home,
she would have driven it!
She would have tested its limits;
she’d be on the road rain, snow, sleet, or wind;
she’d be carting around children
and I think there’d be pet hair all around the back seat!
Henry would have had a heart attack!
Henry loved his car so much…he kept it to himself.
Mary loved that jar of pure nard so much….she spent it all out for everyone.
Mary wasn’t someone who held back.
She went “all in “ – all the time!
She was “all in” with Jesus.
Mary doesn’t just spritz Jesus with a little bit of perfume;
she doesn’t dab him here and there;
she breaks open the jar – the perfume that is worth a whole year’s salary…
It’s a pound of perfume – about a pint…
When she pours it out over Jesus’ feet,
it gets all over him and his robe and the floor of the house.
Its aroma fills the home –
everyone smells it;
everyone knows it’s happening – even Martha stops what she’s doing in the kitchen;
everyone takes part in the ritual.
Some say Mary was the only one of Jesus’ disciples,
who really understood what he was about.
She was the only one who understood that he was going to take it all the way to the cross..
and so she anointed him with perfume,
as women did for the dead.
When you anoint a king, you anoint the head.
When you anoint a dead body, you anoint the feet.
Mary smashes the jar and slathers Jesus’ feet with perfume;
wiping them not with a towel but with her own hair –
keeping that scent on herself –
keeping him with her as long as she can.
Throughout the gospel of John,
to be a disciple of Jesus is to be in relationship with him.
Once Mary came into relationship with Jesus – she was all in.
No holding back.
Mary gives everything- every last drop – to him.
Some said she could have used her time better…
they said that she was hanging around Jesus too much.
You may remember that her sister once complained and said that
Mary could have spent more time helping out around the house.
Some said she could have used her money better…
Judas said Mary could have given it to the poor.
Jesus responds that you will always have the poor –
it will always be your responsibility to care for the poor—
And then the gospel writer John lets us know
that Judas didn’t really care about the poor….
As someone said,
“The only thing worse than not caring about the poor
is pretending to care about them!”[i]
Mary alone knows that this night is different…
this week is different as Jesus comes close to the end
of his journey in Jerusalem.
This night Mary is so full of emotion,
so full of love anticipating what’s about to happen,
that without counting the cost,
without calculating the pros and cons,
without a spreadsheet to figure out how much she can afford to lose,
she chooses to give it all – give it all to Jesus.
She gives completely from her heart without a second guess.
You know, I never knew my great uncle Henry.
The only story I remember hearing about him,
is the one about Henry and his special car that he didn’t drive.
For those in the home at Bethany that night,
my guess is the one story they remembered
is the story of Mary and the special jar of perfume
that she poured out completely on Jesus’ feet.
I suspect that in most of my relationships
including my relationship with God,
I’m a little like Henry.
I’m cautious, careful,
not wanting to get hurt,
concerned about what’s left for myself.
I want to be more like Mary.
She’s all in.
She pours it all out for the sake of others.
Studies show the secret of happiness – joy in life
isn’t a secret at all.
It’s about being generous – giving to others.[ii]
Who do you think experienced more joy in their life?
Henry, who kept it for himself?
Or Mary, who gave it all for others?