Monday, April 8                John 12:1-8        Rev. Rachel Heyduck

Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.) Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”

Extravagant gifts, for some of us, are way more natural to give than to receive. The definition of extravagant is lacking restraint in spending money or using resources; exceeding what is reasonable or appropriate; absurd. That is the only way to describe the pouring of perfume made of pure nard on the feet of Jesus: extravagant. Judas was brave enough to verbalize the absurdity of this gift.

There have only been a couple of things in my life that I have purchased that could be deemed extravagant. I have received many extravagant gifts, but they were rarely absurd because of the price. These gifts were lacking restraint in love and thoughtfulness from the giver. I honestly felt that I was not worthy of such an award.

I think of the gift my previous senior pastor gave us in purchasing a wagon to stay up at the church so that while Eliza was in a cast, she would always have a way around the building. Or just the fact that he came up to the hospital and spent the entire day with us while she was in surgery and recovery.  He was a dear friend who extravagantly loved and cared for our family.

But that is different than giving away something that cost way too much! I always want to think of myself as frugal, or at least very responsible. However, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ are both extravagant in love and in cost. Jesus’ life for us was way too high a price!

How can we live into this extravagant nature? Can we find a balance between what we consider careful stewardship and exuberant generosity? Can I continue to push myself to give financial gifts that are beyond my comfort? I know Christ gave way more than was comfortable, I want to live into this!

Prayer: God, we ask for your help to give in a way that might seem absurd to others.