Anointing the Feet

17 Mar

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 5 Lent on 17 March 2013, St Patrick’s Day
Anointing the Feet
I wonder if Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Jn 12:2) was thinking somewhere in the back of her mind the passage of Isaiah from today’s lessons (Isa 43:16-21) as she knelt at Jesus’ feet. Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11). The Sanhedrin then called a meeting (Jn 11:47) and decided to kill Jesus (v 53). At that meeting the high priest, Caiaphas, had said,
Jn 11:50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.
Jesus likely knew what was going down among His homies, because He could no longer move about publically among His people (v 54), the people that He loved. However, He withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where He stayed with His disciples. (v 54)
A week before Passover, Jesus came to Lazarus’ house (Jn 12:1) and there He had dinner with His friends. (v 2) Surly those were turbulent times, in many spiritual ways not unlike our own. The Church-as-Lazarus has suffered through turbulent “waters” as well. We may not see what has been going on in the frothy “waters” churning among the Church-as-Institution and among the school [like fish] of prophets, but that doesn’t mean the Holy Spirit hasn’t been working. Truly, the Lord has been doing a powerful work that has been hidden from most. It’s the Frozen Chosen in key positions who have been obstinate and blocking the view from others. The Church herself has been made ready. (Rev 19:7) This only highlights the truth of the following statement:
“The outworking of the “promise” that we have been given may be delayed beyond what the Lord originally intended.”
That doesn’t mean that God’s timetable is off. It means that God is working out His salvation (Ph 2:12) in the hearts of His people and fulfilling prophecy at the same time (Ph 2:13). Only God can change the heart. The Lord has already made a way in the “sea,” a path in the mighty waters. (Isa 43:16) He has brought out “chariot and horse, army and warrior.” (v 17) They lie down prostrate in humility; they cannot rise, and they lie extinguished, quenched like a wick. (v 17) The former things that we have tried (v 18) have come to naught. Considering the things of old (v 18) seems to only agitate old wounds we thought had healed. Being “awake” and risen from the “dead” of sleepwalking through life sometimes feels too painful to bear. But God says,
Isa 43:19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

43:20 The wild animals will honor Me, the [conniving] jackals and the ostriches [who bury their heads in the sands and pretend that God is not on the move]; for I give [spiritual] water in the wilderness [of your life], rivers in the desert [of stagnation], to give drink to My [frozen] chosen people,

43:21 the people whom I formed for Myself so that they might declare My praise.
As Mary knelt at Jesus’ feet I can imagine that she really was declaring His praise with her offering:
John 12:3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Then Judas Iscariot had a hissy fit, thinking of the cost (v 5); it’s always the cost and never the joy that micromanagers fixate on. Now, I ask you, dear reader, through the eyes of Divine Romance, when two people love each other, isn’t Love greater than counting the cost of the relationship? Sure, we anchor ourselves, count the cost, and then we sing, “The Things We Do For Love!” (Colin Smith, 1977)
Jesus verbally swatted Judas the puppy on his nose:
John 12:7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.
The Church-as-Institution has historically understood the depth of the meaning of this verse. It is an ancient tradition that the Church (as well as the Old Testament Prophets) used to practice, to steal away to the “desert” [ie, removal of distraction] to secure a quiet place of solitude to anchor in relationship with God. In the Middle Ages the Anchorites were even given the Last Rites as they were cloistered away (and in some cases walled into the church building) in a symbolic gesture that they were leaving their old lives behind and being “buried” with Christ. It is true that in every life betrayals (v 4) happen, and others try to “fix” us into what they consider as the “common purse,” and this is old. (Isa 43:18) But it is all oh-so-tiresome! There’s old and then there’s ancient. One snuffs and the other gives New Life. The ancient rumble is borne out of the old. When we anoint the feet of Jesus with our praise, then we, too, are “buried” with Him, so that the Holy Spirit is empowered to blaze a trail right over our bowed heads, bent backs, and prostrate bodies lying flat on the ground in worship of Who He is.
Almost a month ago Chuck Pierce and team had prophesied from the Lord on Saturday, February 16, 2013:
“He is coming as the Ancient of Days, and because He is the Ancient of Days, there is an ancient key that He carries. And in the carrying of this key you have seen the enemy take his place between you and the promise at this level.”
The “ancient key” is Relationship. It is because of relationship that the enemy really did take his place between the Church and the Promise. The relationship was real. If it hadn’t been, then Satan wouldn’t have bothered to try and take it away. (Rev 12:7-9) It was attempted to be taken away through the instrument of communication. But God has been trying to communicate His love all along. Honest communication opens a multitude of doors, but thus far the “Arc Speak” of the Holy Spirit has been doing all the work. The humans, not so much.
Historically, the event of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet happened a week before Passover and Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. (Jn 12:1) In a parallel, we, too, are a week before Palm Sunday (24 Mar 13) and the beginning of Passover (25 Mar 13). In divine poetry today is also the traditional Feast Day of St Patrick. Patrick was an ambassador for Christ to the people of Ireland. (d 461 AD) The chieftains of the Irish tribes of the fifth century were also keen on trying to micromanage their own people and “fix” Patrick into what they considered was their ‘common purse.” It would seem that nothing “at ‘tal, at ‘tal” [at all] has changed over the millennia as humanity continues attempts at micromanaging and fixating on the common purse. But St Patrick’ gave humanity the explanation of the Trinity in the simple clover. God is Three in One like the shamrock: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father works in the “leaf” of our heart-minds; Jesus the Son works through the “leaf” of our bodies; the Holy Spirit works through the “leaf” of our souls to transform us from the inside out. Because the Church forgot her divine mandate to honor the sacred ordinary and to not deny the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31), the Church has herself in a tangle resembling interlacing ancient Celtic art. But God does not waste His poetry. So in a symbolic gesture, I put perfumed nard on the feet of the Church-as-Body and on the feet of the prophetic brethren to embolden all with courage and humility of the Holy Spirit. I rub the perfume into the collective Church’s “feet” with my hair. I breathe blessing into the “feet” so that she would glorify Jesus through her actions [ie feet] and recognize God at work. I ask God to show/reveal how He has already answered our prayers and that He may give us eyes to “see” what He has already manifested but we didn’t notice. I ask for the fruit of encounters bearing the seal of the Holy Spirit and endorsement of God in the gifts He has already given us. I ask for forgiveness on behalf of the Frozen Chosen. Forgive us and thaw us, Lord.
Father, please give us a sense of reverential awe in our response to You, humility as we “die” to our selfish old selves and tired old ways; courage as we walk through the doors of opportunity You have already granted us; and give us a heart to enjoy (in joy!) our lives and ministries You have entrusted to us, so that Your whole Church body would be reunited in You. Fulfill Your dream that the scattered children of God would finally be brought together and make us one in You. Bless and anoint our feet as we take the High Road around all the blarney. Amen.

5 Lent 17 March 2013 St Patrick’s Day Gospel: John 12:1-8
Isaiah 43:16-21
43:16 Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,

43:17 who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:

43:18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.

43:19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

43:20 The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,

43:21 the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.

Psalm 126
126:1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.

126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”

126:3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

126:4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.

126:5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.

126:6 Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

Philippians 3:4b-14
3:4b If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more:

3:5 circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;

3:6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

3:7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.

3:8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.

3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,

3:11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

3:13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

John 12:1-8
12:1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

12:2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.

12:3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

12:4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said,

12:5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”

12:6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

12:7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.

12:8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

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