While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Prayer is sometimes seen as a luxury – something that people who have disposable time and attention undertake because they can afford to. Likewise, prayer is sometimes seen as a means to an end – something that people do to speed up a process like healing, spiritual growth, wisdom, etc. When we view prayer as simply a nice add-on (luxury) or as a catalyst for (most likely our own) agendas (necessity), we miss what Mark shows us in this story of the woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume. Prayer doesn't sit on the spectrum between necessity and luxury. Prayer invites us to see what’s in front of us; not in terms of necessity and luxury, but in terms of seeing the present moment for the fullness and richness that is already there in that moment. This unnamed woman in Mark saw something in Jesus that no one else in the room could see (his impending death) and acted accordingly. Prayer helps us notice these divine moments that are often right in front of us, and then helps us look around and look ahead to act accordingly.
As you pray today:
1) Look around and be aware of the divine moments happening all around you – they are neither luxury or necessity, they are gifts that only need unwrapped with our awareness.
2) Look ahead to how your participation in these moments (the things right in front of you today) dovetail with the larger story of God (either in terms of death/resurrection, creation/incarnation/recreation, creation/fall/redemption, etc.).
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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Deeper Dive Podcast (Mark 14:1-11)
About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC