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Wednesday Meditation

St. Johannes Lutheran Church
April 1, 2020

Kyrie eleison, on our world and on our way. Kyrie eleison, every day!

from Setting 4 of the Lutheran Liturgy

Greetings from Pastor Steve Cooper

Pastoral Greeting Message

Wednesday's Meditation

Wednesday and Sunday E-Blasts will only have the text for the service beginning this Palm Sunday(April 5). NO videos of the sermons or the devotionals will be posted in the e-blast! The videos will be posted ONLY on our church website- www.stjohanneschurch.org.  To access the videos, click on the "Sermons" button on the front page.  Then select which video you want to watch.

Devotional Meditation Service- Text format matches Meditation Video above.

April 1, 2020
 
Prayer of the Day
Creator God, in this Lenten Season open our hearts to be transformed by the new thing you are doing, that our lives may proclaim the extravagance of your love given to all through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen.
Gospel John 12:1-11
1Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary 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. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor? 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.) 7Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

9When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
 
Sermon                        “Mary, Martha, And Lazarus               Pastor Steve
 
Judas wasn’t the only one shocked at Mary’s extravagance you know.
 
Everyone was. 
 
Well, everyone but Jesus. 
 
What would cause a young girl, like Mary,
to do such a thing?
 
And I believe that’s what she was
 
A young girl, that is,
or at best a teenager
 
I don’t know how old Lazarus was when all this happened,
but I am pretty sure Martha and Mary were still quite young. 
 
You see there is no mention in the story of any parents.
So the chances are very good they were orphans.
 
And, that Lazarus,
as the male head of household,
would have had the responsibility for caring for his sisters
until they were old enough to marry. 
 
So, I think Mary and Martha were young girls or teenagers.
 
And Lazarus,
who probably wasn’t very much older himself,
had the responsibility of taking care of them. 
 
And, incidentally,
I think Jesus may have had that same responsibility
of caring for his younger brothers and sisters after Joseph died.
Which would explain his rather late entry into his ministry
at the age of thirty. 
 
And maybe her young age had something to do with it.
 
Maybe Mary was too young
to repress her love for Jesus,
or question what others might think of her reckless behavior.
 
Remember how passionate you were as a teenager.
How deeply you felt things,
 
For years I helped to lead a weeklong youth event called AFFIRM,
where middle and high school youth
would spend around six hours a day, every day,
in small groups of six or eight youth and one or two caring adults,
learning and sharing and growing
 
And then they would spend another couple of hours every day,
with two hundred or more other youth,
singing and worshiping and sharing communion.
 
And at the end of the week, we would have to remind them
that all their friends and families and churches back home,
had not had this awesome experience.
 
And warn them not to go overboard when they got back.
 
Otherwise, they would often go home and be overly enthusiastic
And sometimes obnoxious,
Wanting to know why their churches weren’t as loving and caring
and exciting as their experience at AFFIRM had been.
 
And, I must confess,
often when I went home and back to my congregation,
I often wonder the same thing.
Maybe we could all use a little youthful exuberance now and then.
 
And maybe that’s why she did it.
She was just too young to know better.
 
But then maybe it was because Jesus,
Despite their young age,
Did not dismiss these three young kids
trying to make it on their own,
in what could be a very scary world,
As unimportant.
 
He went to their house and stayed with them.
 
Lazarus may have been the “male head of household”
in this family of three siblings,
 
but I think Martha was the one who called the shots. 
 
And it was Martha, according to Luke 10:38
who first invited Jesus into “her” house. 
 
And Jesus accepted her invitation
 
And while not as shocking as his eating with tax collectors and sinners
Like Zacchaeus and Matthew,
 
Even the Pharisees made a big deal about having the famous rabbi Jesus
as their guest for dinner.
 
And I suspect many very were surprised and shocked
that he would choose to stay with Mary and Martha and Lazarus.
 
But he did,
 
And not just once,
but at least three times that we know of.
And can you imagine what healing and comfort those visits
must have brought to these three kids,
grieving the loss of their parents
and struggling to make it on their own,
 
Wouldn’t you like Jesus to come and stay with you
In times like that?
 
And I suspect for many of you,
He has done just that,
even if you weren’t aware that he was there.
 
And I know that he is with us right now in fact,
As we go through this Covid-19 crisis.
 
And maybe that’s why Mary did it.
 
Or maybe she did it,
because Jesus didn’t just love and accept her family,
he loved and accepted her.
 
We all know the story of how Martha tried to triangle Jesus
into taking her side in a dispute with her sister Mary,
who Martha thought wasn’t doing her share of the “serving.” 
 
But Jesus told Martha that it was she, Martha,
who was anxious and troubled about many thing
when only one thing was needed,
and that Mary had chosen the better part.  
 
I think poor Martha gets a bum rap in this story,
By the way. 
It seems obvious that she had a gift for inviting people in
and waiting on them,
but her busy-ness and  anxiety were getting in the way
of the most important thing,
taking the time to listen to her guests
and care for them as individuals. 
 
And I am glad that after that first visit,
and the death and resurrection of Lazarus,
that Martha was still serving in today’s gospel account. 
 
Only now she wasn’t just waiting on a visiting rabbi,
she was serving her Lord Jesus, the Messiah,
 
with a love and devotion,
that in her own way,
may have been just as extravagant
as that jar of costly perfume made of pure nard. 
 
But I think Mary poured out that bottle of perfume
because Jesus didn’t just love and accept her family.
 
He loved and accepted her.
 
Refusing to dismiss her as just a woman,
in what was a male dominated society,
 
or a child, because she was young and not yet married,
 
but accepting her totally and completely
as a beloved child of God worthy of his love and attention. 
 
Inviting her to sit and listen at his feet,
to be a disciple, in fact,
of the great rabbi Jesus,
if for but a few hours,
just like Peter and James and John.
 
 
 
And when chastised by her sister
to get up and help with the serving,
he had defended her right to be there. 
 
And she did it because,
when her brother Lazarus died
and she and her sister Martha
had blasted him for not getting there sooner to save his life,
 
he saw only her hurt and tears,
and the tears of those around her.
 
And he did get angry,
but not at her!
 
He got angry, instead, at death itself,
demanding to see where they had placed his body.
 
And he cried,
 
not as she thought at the time for Lazarus,
for he must have known that he was going to resurrect her brother.
 
Instead crying for Mary and Martha,
and all who like them have lost fathers and mothers,
husbands and wives, sisters and brothers,
without the hope of the eternal life
that he came to bring for everyone.  
 
And as a sign of that resurrected life
he had called forth her brother Lazarus,
unbound him and set him free. 
 
Of course, that’s why she did it.
 
 
And maybe, just maybe,
 
she did it because she knew that Jesus resurrection of her brother
had been the last straw for those who opposed Jesus
and that they were even at that very moment plotting to kill him
 
and her brother too if they could. 
 
And so, she took all the money she had.
 
Three hundred silver pieces?
 
Money most likely set aside for her dowry,
All that a woman was allowed to own in her own right.
 
And purchased the most expensive aromatic oils you could buy.
 
And got down on her knees and anointed Jesus’ feet
and then wiped them with her hair,
 
because it was the only way she could think of
to let him know how dearly she loved him.   
 
They say that the last sense to leave you
before losing consciousness
is your sense of smell. 
 
And within only a few days,
those feet that Mary anointed
would be pierced by Roman nails.
 
And I can’t help but wonder if that fragrance,
 
A fragrance, so strong that it filled the house,
might still have remained. 
 
And if so, might Jesus last breath
Have been filled with a reminder a young girl’s love and devotion.
 
I hope so.   
 
Thank you Jesus for coming into our homes and churches
As you did the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus,
to share a meal with us and be our loving friend.
 
And thank you for giving us the assurance of eternal life,
the communion of all the saints,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
 
Help us see you in everyone you have called us to serve,
and to remember that our listening and caring for them
as the beloved children of God they are,
is even more important than any other service we might offer them..
 
And finally, free us Lord, to love you extravagantly,
even as Mary anointed your feet with costly oil
and You gave your life on a cross extravagantly for us. Amen.
 
God loves you!
 
And so do I.
Amen.


Prayer
Gracious God, it is good for us to gather as your beloved in community. Be with us in these days when gathering together is not possible. When we must be apart for reasons of safety, we trust that you surround us with your sheltering wings. Encourage us in connecting as we are able, reaching out to our neighbors in need and being persistent in prayer. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our constant companion. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our Prayer.
God, our peace and our strength, we pray for our nation and the world as we face new uncertainties around coronavirus. Protect the most vulnerable among us, especially all who are currently sick or in isolation. Grant wisdom, patience, and clarity to health care workers, especially as their work caring for others puts them at great risk. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our Prayer.
 
Guide us as we consider how best to prepare and respond in our families, congregations, workplaces, and communities. Give us courage to face these days not with fear but with compassion, concern, and acts of service, trusting that you abide with us always. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our Prayer.
 
Permeate this world with the sweet perfume of Christ’s anointing. Fill your people with such gratitude that it spills over into service of those who are poor or in any need. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our Prayer.
 
Accompany those for whom death draws near. Bring us with all your saints to receive the abundance of heavenly glory through the covenant Christ sealed in his death and resurrection. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our Prayer.
 
Into your hands we commend all for whom we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.
 
BLESSING
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and ☩ give you peace.
Amen.
 
Physical services in our Sanctuary are closed for month of April. We will notify you when services resume in our sanctuary! Please be safe!
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